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Startle modulation in children at risk for anxiety disorders and/or alcoholism.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To examine the startle reflex as a possible vulnerability marker among offspring of parents with anxiety disorders and/or alcoholism.

METHOD:

The subjects were 66 male and female offspring (aged 10 to 17 years) of proband who participated in a family study of comorbidity of alcoholism and anxiety disorders. Testing consisted of examining the startle reflex and its modulation by prepulse stimuli (prepulse facilitation and prepulse inhibition).

RESULTS:

Different components of the startle discriminated among children of parents with anxiety disorders, children of alcoholics, and children of normal controls. Specifically startle magnitude was elevated in children with a parental history of an anxiety disorder, whereas startle habituation and prepulse inhibition were impaired in children with a parental history of alcoholism.

CONCLUSION:

These findings suggest that individual differences in the startle reflex may serve as a vulnerability marker for the development of anxiety disorders and alcohol problems.

PMID:
9204670
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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