Psychophysiological response patterns to affective film stimuli
Bos, Marieke Geerte Nynke Jentgens, Pia Beckers, Tom Kindt, Merel # ×
Public Library of Sciene
PLoS One vol:8 issue:4
Psychophysiological research on emotion utilizes various physiological response measures to index activation of the defense system. Here we tested 1) whether acoustic startle reflex (ASR), skin conductance response (SCR) and heart rate (HR) elicited by highly arousing stimuli specifically reflect a defensive state and 2) the relation between resting heart rate variability (HRV) and affective responding. In a within-subject design, participants viewed film clips with a positive, negative and neutral content. In contrast to SCR and HR, we show that ASR differentiated between negative, neutral and positive states and can therefore be considered as a reliable index of activation of the defense system. Furthermore, resting HRV was associated with affect-modulated characteristics of ASR, but not with SCR or HR. Interestingly, individuals with low-HRV showed less differentiation in ASR between affective states. We discuss the important value of ASR in psychophysiological research on emotion and speculate on HRV as a potential biological marker for demarcating adaptive from maladaptive responding.