Different effects of unexpected changes in environmental conditions on prepulse inhibition in rats and humans.
The reduction of the startle response to an auditory stimulus caused by the presentation of another stimulus of lower intensity closely preceding it, a phenomenon known as prepulse inhibition (PPI), can be modulated by changes in dopaminergic activity. Schmajuk, Larrauri, De la Casa, and Levin (2009) demonstrated that this dopaminergic modulation of PPI in rats can be influenced by manipulating the experimental context, specifically by introducing changes in the ambient lighting condition that include novel elements. In this paper we analyze the effects of introducing changes in context illumination on PPI in male rats (Experiment 1) and humans (Experiment 2). The results with rats showed a reduction of PPI when the illumination condition switched from dark to light, but not from light to dark. In the experiment with human participants the reduction of PPI occurred for both changes in illumination conditions. The animal experiment results are interpreted in terms of competing exploratory behavior that appear when the context is illuminated after the dark-light transition; while in the case of human participants a perceptual and/or attentional mechanism after both illumination transitions is proposed, which may result in a reduced processing of the prepulse and subsequent lower PPI.
De la Casa, LG; Fernandez, A; Larrauri, J; Mena, A; Puentes, A; Quintero, E; Schmajuk, N
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