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Biol Psychiatry. 1999 Jun 1;45(11):1455-66.

Prepulse inhibition of startle and the neurobiology of primary nocturnal enuresis.

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Department of Psychiatry, UCLA, USA.



Children with primary nocturnal enuresis (PNE) wet the bed during all stages of sleep and irrespective of state of arousal, suggesting that during sleep, when voluntary, i.e., cortical control, is not available, the signal from the distended bladder is not registered in the subcortical centers inhibiting micturition. Deficient prepulse inhibition (PPI) of startle has been reported in PNE. This study evaluates the association of this PPI deficit in PNE with comorbidity with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and with intelligence.


Prepulse modulation of startle was studied in 96 boys with PNE and 105 nonenuretic boys using intervals of 60, 120, and 4000 msec between the onset of a 75-dB 1000-Hz tone and a 104-dB noise burst. Thirty-one percent of the enuretic and 36% of the nonenuretic boys were diagnosed with ADHD.


After adjustment for presence or absence of ADHD, lower or higher IQ, age, and unmodulated startle amplitude, there was a significant association between PNE and deficient PPI of startle following the 120-msec prepulse interval. Those enuretic boys who also were ADHD or had higher performance IQs (> or = 110) showed the greatest PPI deficit.


A common deficiency of inhibitory signal processing in the brain stem may underlie both deficient PPI and the inability to inhibit micturition in PNE. Strong familiarity for PNE, ADHD, and intelligence suggests a possible genetic mediation of these effects.

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