Modulation of the acoustic startle response by the level of arousal: comparison of clonidine and modafinil in healthy volunteers.

Division of Psychiatry, Psychopharmacology Section, Medical School, Queen's Medical Centre, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.
Neuropsychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 8.68). 12/2007; 32(11):2405-21. DOI: 10.1038/sj.npp.1301363
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A sudden loud sound evokes an electromyographic (EMG) response from the orbicularis oculi muscle in humans together with an auditory evoked potential (AEP) and an increase in skin conductance (SC). Startle responses are inhibited by weak prepulses (prepulse inhibition, (PPI)) and may also be modified by the level of alertness. We compared the sedative drug clonidine and the alerting drug modafinil on sound-evoked EMG, AEP, and SC responses, on the PPI of these responses and on level of arousal and autonomic functions. Sixteen healthy male volunteers participated in four weekly sessions (clonidine 0.2 mg, modafinil 400 mg, their combination, placebo) in a double-blind, cross-over, balanced design. Responses were evoked by sound pulses of 115 and 85 dB (PPI) for 40 ms and recorded conventionally. Level of alertness, autonomic functions (pupil diameter, blood pressure, heart rate, salivation, temperature) and the plasma levels of the hormones prolactin, thyroid-stimulating hormone and growth hormone were also measured. Data were analyzed with analysis of variance with multiple comparisons. Both prepulses and clonidine attenuated all three startle responses and modafinil antagonized clonidine's effects on the EMG and AEP responses. None of the drugs affected PPI. Clonidine showed sedative and sympatholytic effects, and modafinil showed alerting and sympathomimetic effects. In conclusion, startle responses were susceptible not only to PPI but also to the level of arousal.

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    ABSTRACT: The literature has already demonstrated that auditory stimulation with music influences the cardiovascular system. In this study, we performed a literature review in order to investigate the relationship between auditory mechanisms and cardiac autonomic regulation. The selected studies indicated that there is a strong correlation between noise intensity and vagal-sympathetic balance. Also, it was reported that music therapy improved heart rate variability in anthracycline-treated breast cancer patients. It was hypothesized that dopamine release in the striatal system induced by pleasure songs are involved in the cardiac autonomic regulation. Further studies are necessary to add new elements in the literature to improve new therapies to treat cardiovascular disorders.
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