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A computational model for the modulation of the prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle reflex

Abstract

The acoustic startle reflex (ASR), a defensive response, is a contraction of the skeletal and facial muscles in response to an abrupt, intense (> 80 db) auditory stimulus, which has been extensively studied in rats and humans. Prepulse inhibition (PPI) of ASR is the normal suppression of the startle reflex when an intense stimulus is preceded by a weak non-starting pre-stimulus. PPI, a measure of sensory motor gating, is impaired in various neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, and is modulated by cognitive and emotional contexts such as fear and attention. We have modeled the fear modulation of PPI of ASR based on its anatomical substrates and taking into account data from behaving rats and humans. The model replicates the principal features of both phenomena and predicts underlying neural mechanisms. In addition, the model yields testable predictions.

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Abbreviations

ASR:

Acoustic startle reflex

PPI:

Prepulse inhibition

C:

Cochlea

CRN:

Cochlear root nucleus

NRPC:

Nucleus reticularis pontine caudalis

MN:

Motor neuron

IC:

Inferior colliculus

SC:

Superior colliculus

PTN:

Pontine tegmental nucleus

AM:

Amygdala

MOD:

Modulatory structure

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Correspondence to David Fernando Ramirez-Moreno.

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Ramirez-Moreno, D.F., Sejnowski, T.J. A computational model for the modulation of the prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle reflex. Biol Cybern 106, 169–176 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00422-012-0485-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00422-012-0485-7

Keywords

  • Acoustic startle reflex
  • Prepulse inhibition
  • Fear modulation
  • PPI computational model