The present study used the picture perception paradigm to examine the extent to which three well-documented psychophysiological measures demonstrate consistency across time in response to emotional stimuli. The three measures were the eye-blink startle response and the activation in two facial muscle regions (zygomatic and corrugator). Twenty-seven young women were assessed on two occasions, 2 weeks apart. Whereas activation in the corrugator and zygomatic muscle regions demonstrated the predicted patterns at both assessments (with some attenuation in the zygomatic muscle regions), the startle response had limited consistency across the two assessments. The startle response revealed the predicted linear pattern of valence modulation during the first assessment. During the second assessment, startle magnitude response was a quadratic function of valence ratings and a linear function of arousal ratings. The unexpected pattern of startle response during the second session appeared to be related to the content of the pleasant slides, with action slides generating quadratic valence modulation and erotic slides continuing to exhibit the expected linear valence modulation.
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View details for PubMedID 11037044