International Journal of Psychophysiology vol:98 issue:1 pages:128-134
This study aimed to investigate affective modulation of eye blink startle by aversive visceral stimulation. Startle blink EMG responses were measured in 31 healthy participants receiving painful, intermittent balloon distentions in the distal esophagus during 4 blocks (positive, negative, neutral or no pictures), and compared to startles during 3 'safe' blocks without esophageal stimulations (positive, negative or neutral emotional pictures). Women showed enhanced startle during blocks with distentions (as compared to 'safe' blocks), both when the balloon was in an inflated and deflated state, suggesting that fear and/or expectations may have played a role. Men's startle did not differ between distention and non-distention blocks. In this particular study context affective picture viewing did not further impose any effect on startle eye blink responses. The current results may contribute to a better understanding of emotional reactions to aversive interoceptive stimulation.