Startle gating deficits occur across prepulse intensities in schizophrenic patients

Biol Psychiatry. 1992 Nov 15;32(10):939-43. doi: 10.1016/0006-3223(92)90183-z.


The effects of prepulse stimuli of different intensities in inhibiting the startle reflex was assessed in 14 age-matched and gender-matched schizophrenic patients and 14 normal controls. The subjects were presented with startling stimuli consisting of bursts of white noise (106 dBA) with or without prepulse stimuli. Four intensities of prepulse stimuli were utilized: 75, 80, 85, and 90 dBA. Throughout the testing, the background noise was maintained at 70 dBA. The prepulse stimuli more effectively inhibited the startle reflex in the control group compared to the schizophrenic patients who showed deficient prepulse inhibition (gating) of the startle reflex. These results suggest that schizophrenics have impaired central inhibitory mechanisms over a fairly broad range of background noise to prepulse ratios. Further studies are needed to clarify exactly which ratios are optimal in eliciting prepulse inhibition (PPI) and in differentiating between schizophrenic and control groups.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal* / physiology
  • Attention* / physiology
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Limbic System / physiopathology
  • Loudness Perception* / physiology
  • Male
  • Mesencephalon / physiopathology
  • Neural Inhibition* / physiology
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychotic Disorders / physiopathology
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Reflex, Startle* / physiology
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology
  • Schizophrenia, Paranoid / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia, Paranoid / physiopathology
  • Schizophrenia, Paranoid / psychology
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology


  • Dopamine