The acoustic startle response (ASR) and its modulation, including prepulse inhibition (PPI), are considered to be promising neurophysiological indices for translational research in psychiatry. Impairment of the PPI has been reported in several psychiatric disorders, but particularly in schizophrenia, where PPI is considered to be a candidate endophenotype of the disorder. Although the profiles of the ASR differ between races, recent studies of single ethnicity samples in Asia were in accord with a number of studies from Western countries, in reporting that patients with schizophrenia exhibit impaired PPI. The PPI of the ASR is known to develop before 8years of age, and PPI impairment has only been reported in adults (not children) with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which involves atypical features that are present from early development. Recent Asian studies of children with ASD suggest that comprehensive investigation of the ASR and its modulation, including the startle response to weak startle stimuli, peak startle latency, and PPI, may contribute to an understanding of the impairment of the neural circuitry in children with ASD and its comorbid behavioral problems. In this review, we review recent findings on the ASR and its modulation from Asian countries, and discuss its potential use for studying sensorimotor gating and its relationship to schizophrenia and ASD. In conclusion, the ASR and its modulation can provide a well-established global neurophysiological index for translational research in psychiatric disorders. Future studies investigating the development of sensorimotor gating in early development may contribute to prevention of psychiatric disorders.
Keywords: Acoustic startle response; Asian population; Autism spectrum disorder; Prepulse inhibition; Schizophrenia; Sensorimotor gating.
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