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Psychophysiology. 2004 May;41(3):401-6.

Menstrual cycle phase effects on prepulse inhibition of acoustic startle.

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Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Prepulse inhibition (PPI) represents an attenuation of the startle reflex following the presentation of a weak prepulse at brief intervals prior to the startle eliciting pulse. It has been shown that increases in striatal dopamine levels decrease PPI; because dopamine release is sensitive to estrogen, it is likely that PPI varies across the menstrual cycle. Cross-sectional studies looking at estrogen effects suggest that this may be true. In this study, we compare effects of menstrual phase on PPI in a between-group design (men, follicular phase women, and luteal phase women) as well as a within-subjects design (women across the two phases). The study found a between-group as well as a within-subjects effect of phase on PPI. PPI in follicular phase women did not differ significantly from PPI in men. However, PPI was reduced in luteal women compared to follicular women. These data provide evidence that ovarian hormones affect sensorimotor gating.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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