Genetic influences on prepulse inhibition of startle reflex in humans

Neurosci Lett. 2003 Dec 15;353(1):45-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2003.09.014.


Prepulse inhibition (PPI) is a suppression of the startle reflex that occurs when an intense startling stimulus is preceded by a weaker 'prepulse' stimulus. PPI deficits have been implicated in the biological bases of schizophrenia and some other neuropsychiatric disorders and proposed as a possible biological marker (endophenotype) for genetic studies. However, little is known about the genetic determination of PPI in humans. We examined acoustic eye-blink startle reflex and PPI in 142 young female twins (40 monozygotic and 31 dizygotic pairs) and conducted a biometrical genetic analysis using structural equation modeling. PPI showed significant heritability suggesting that over 50% of PPI variance in this sample can be attributed to genetic factors. Baseline startle magnitude showed higher heritability (about 70%).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blinking / genetics*
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Inhibition / genetics*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Reaction Time
  • Reflex, Startle / genetics*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Twin Studies as Topic
  • Twins
  • Zygote / physiology