Human blink startle during aversive and nonaversive Pavlovian conditioning

J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 1994 Oct;20(4):380-9.


Potentiation of blink startle during aversive and nonaversive Pavlovian single-cue conditioning was assessed in human Ss. In Experiment 1 (N = 89), the conditioning group received paired presentations of a visual conditioned stimulus (CS) and an unconditioned stimulus (US), whereas the control group was presented with a random sequence. The US was an electric shock for half the Ss and a nonaversive reaction time task for the other half. Electrodermal conditioning was evident regardless of the nature of the US, but blink potentiation was found only in the conditioning group that had been trained with the aversive US. These results were replicated in Experiment 2 (N = 65), in which a nonaversive US of increased motivational significance was used. Thus, only aversive conditioning seems to affect the affective valence of the CS, at least as reflected by changes in a skeletal reflex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Conditioning, Classical*
  • Electrodes
  • Galvanic Skin Response
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise / adverse effects
  • Reaction Time
  • Reflex, Startle*