Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 176, Issue 2, pp 199–205 | Cite as

Startle produces early response latencies that are distinct from stimulus intensity effects

  • Anthony N. Carlsen
  • Chris J. Dakin
  • Romeo Chua
  • Ian M. Franks
Research Article

Abstract

Recent experiments pairing a startling stimulus with a simple reaction time (RT) task have shown that when participants are startled, a prepared movement was initiated earlier in comparison to voluntary initiation. It has been argued that the startle acts to trigger the response involuntarily. However, an alternative explanation is that the decrease in RT may be due to stimulus intensity effects, not involuntary triggering. Thus the aim of the current investigation was to determine if RT simply declined in a linear fashion with increasing stimulus intensity, or if there was a point at which RT dramatically decreased. In the present experiment participants completed 50 active wrist extension trials to a target in response to an auditory stimulus of varying stimulus intensity (83–123 dB). The presented data show that RTs associated with a startle response are separate from stimulus intensity facilitated responses. Furthermore, this startle facilitation is more highly associated with sternocleidomastoid electromyographic (EMG) activity, rather than the EMG from the widely used startle response indicator muscle orbicularis oculi.

Keywords

Startle Electromyography Reaction time Orbicularis oculi Sternocleidomastoid 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony N. Carlsen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chris J. Dakin
    • 1
  • Romeo Chua
    • 1
  • Ian M. Franks
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Human KineticsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.VancouverCanada

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