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Automatic and controlled attentional processes in startle eyeblink modification: Effects of habituation of the prepulse

  • ANNE M. SCHELL (a1), JONATHAN K. WYNN (a1) (a2), MICHAEL E. DAWSON (a3), NINET SINAII (a1) and CHRIS B. NIEBALA (a1)...
    • Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 July 2000

Abstract

The effect of prehabituation of the prepulse on startle eyeblink modification was studied in two experiments. In Experiment 1, college student participants were either prehabituated or nonhabituated to a tone that served as a prepulse in a startle modification passive attention paradigm. Neither short lead interval (60 and 120 ms) prepulse inhibition (PPI) nor long lead interval (2,000 ms) prepulse facilitation (PPF) was affected by the prehabituation procedure. In Experiment 2, participants were presented with an active attention paradigm in which one of two tone prepulses was attended while the other was ignored. One group was prehabituated to the prepulses and the other was not. Unlike the results with the passive paradigm in Experiment 1, prehabituation did significantly diminish attentional modulation of PPI and PPF. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that passive PPI and PPF are primarily automatic processes, whereas attentional modulation involves controlled cognitive processing.

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Corresponding author

Address reprint requests to: Anne M. Schell, Department of Psychology, Occidental College, 1600 Campus Road, Los Angeles, CA 90041, USA.

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