Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 534–543 | Cite as

Relationship of the Acoustic Startle Response and Its Modulation to Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Typical Development Children and Those with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Hidetoshi TakahashiEmail author
  • Sahoko Komatsu
  • Takayuki Nakahachi
  • Kazuo Ogino
  • Yoko Kamio
Original Paper


Auditory hyper-reactivity is a common sensory-perceptual abnormality in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), which interrupts behavioral adaptation. We investigated acoustic startle response (ASR) modulations in 17 children with ASD and 27 with typical development (TD). Compared to TD, children with ASD had larger ASR magnitude to weak stimuli and more prolonged peak startle-latency. We could not find significant difference of prepulse inhibition (PPI) or habituation in ASD children compared to TD. However, habituation and PPI at 70-dB prepulses were negatively related to several subscales of Social Responsiveness Scale and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, when considering all children. Comprehensive investigation of ASR and its modulation might increase understanding of the neurophysiological impairments underlying ASD and other mental health problems in children.


Autism spectrum disorders Acoustic startle response Prepulse inhibition Sensory-motor gating Habituation Startle latency 



The authors wish to thank all the subjects who participated in this study and their parents. This study was supported by Grants-in-Aid from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (23890257, 24591739), Intramural Research Grant (23-1, 26-1) for Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders of NCNP, Research Grants from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan (H19-KOKORO-006 and H20-KOKORO-004), and the Center of Innovation Program from Japan Science and Technology Agency, JST.

Author Contributions

HT conceived the study, participated in its design, supervised the entire project, collected the data, performed the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript; YK also supervised the entire project, confirmed the research diagnoses of ASD and TD, was critically involved in the collection and analysis of the data, and drafted the manuscript; SK, TN and KO were involved in the collection of the majority of the data, and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hidetoshi Takahashi
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sahoko Komatsu
    • 1
  • Takayuki Nakahachi
    • 1
  • Kazuo Ogino
    • 1
  • Yoko Kamio
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, National Institute of Mental HealthNational Center of Neurology and PsychiatryKodaira, TokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Advanced Neuroimaging, Integrative Brain Imaging CenterNational Center of Neurology and PsychiatryKodaira, TokyoJapan

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