Event Abstract

Ventromedial prefrontal cortex regulation of prepulse inhibition and emotional modulation of the startle reflex: effect of lesion onset

  • 1 University of Murcia, Spain
  • 2 University of Iowa, USA
  • 3 Saint Louis University, USA
  • 4 University of Southern California, USA

The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC) is involved in inhibitory and emotional processing. Behavioral studies have shown that deficits in these processes are more severe if lesions occur in childhood, rather than adulthood. Our goal was to study both inhibitory and emotional processes in patients with either childhood-onset or adult-onset VMPC damage. To address these processes, we examined the modulation of the startle reflex by early attentional processes and emotion. The sample was composed of 6 adult-onset VMPC, 4 childhood-onset VMPC patients, and 10 healthy participants. Subjects viewed 54 pictures from the IAPS. The startle reflex was evoked by a 105 dB white noise burst in 18 pictures at 300 ms after picture onset (prepulse inhibition) and at 3,800 ms after picture onset in 18 pictures (emotion-modulated startle). Childhood-onset VMPC patients did not show prepulse inhibition, attentional inhibition, or emotion-modulated startle. On the other hand, adult-onset VMPC patients showed preserved prepulse inhibition, impaired attentional inhibition, and preserved emotion-modulated startle. Overall, childhood-onset VMPFC patients lose the ability to protect the processing of a previous stimulus when a second stimulus appears (prepulse inhibition). By contrast, adult-onset VMPC patients preserve this ability, but show a deficit to more deeply process the salience of emotional pictures, in comparison to neutral pictures (attentional inhibition). At later stages of processing, childhood-onset VMPC patients did not show an emotional modulation of startle, while adult-onset VMPC patients did show this effect similar to controls. Hence, early onset damage to the VMPC results in more severe deficits to early and late processing of emotion compared to adult-onset cases.

Keywords: emotion, VMPC patients

Conference: XI International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON XI), Palma, Mallorca, Spain, 25 Sep - 29 Sep, 2011.

Presentation Type: Poster Presentation

Topic: Poster Sessions: Emotion, Motivation and the Social Brain

Citation: Sanchez-Navarro J, Driscoll D, Buchanan TW, Bechara A, Anderson SW and Tranel D (2011). Ventromedial prefrontal cortex regulation of prepulse inhibition and emotional modulation of the startle reflex: effect of lesion onset. Front. Hum. Neurosci. Conference Abstract: XI International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON XI). doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2011.207.00165

Received: 18 Nov 2011; Published Online: 28 Nov 2011.

* Correspondence: Dr. Juan P. Sanchez-Navarro, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain, jpedro@um.es

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