Probe P3 and blinks: Two measures of affective startle modulation

Harald T. Schupp, Bruce N. Cuthbert, Margaret M. Bradley, Niels Birbaumer, Peter J. Lang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two concurrent measures of the evoked startle response, the elicited blink reflex and the event-related potential, were measured while individuals viewed pictures that varied in pleasure and arousal. Replicating previous findings, the blink response was modulated by picture pleasantness, with larger reflexes elicited in the context of viewing unpleasant versus pleasant pictures. However, the probe P3 was primarily modulated by picture arousal, with smaller P3 responses elicited when viewing affective (pleasant or unpleasant) than when viewing neutral pictures. Both modulatory effects were sustained for probes presented in a subsequent picture imagery period. These data suggest that two measurable responses to the same startle probe are differentially modified by emotional context, with blink magnitude varying with pleasure and probe P3 varying with stimulus arousal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1997


  • Arousal
  • Attention
  • Emotion
  • Event-related potentials
  • P3
  • Startle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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