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J Abnorm Psychol. 1995 Feb;104(1):75-82.

Physiologic responses to loud tones in Vietnam veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder.

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  • 1Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, Manchester, New Hampshire 03103.


The authors evaluated eyeblink and autonomic components of the acoustic startle response in combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Thirty-seven Vietnam combat veterans with current PTSD and 19 combat veterans without PTSD were exposed to 15 consecutive 95-dB, 500-ms, 1000-Hz tones with 0-ms rise and fall times, while orbicularis oculi electromyogram, skin conductance, and heart rate responses were measured. PTSD veterans produced larger averaged electromyographic and heart rate responses, and a slower decline in skin conductance responses, across the 15 tone presentations compared to non-PTSD veterans. Results of this study provide laboratory support for an exaggerated startle response in PTSD and replicate and extend previous findings of increased autonomic responses to loud tone stimuli in this disorder.

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