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Emotion modulation of the startle reflex in essential tremor: Blunted reactivity to unpleasant and pleasant pictures


Lafo, Jacob A; Mikos, Ania; Mangal, Paul C; Scott, Bonnie M; Trifilio, Erin; Okun, Michael S; Bowers, Dawn (2017). Emotion modulation of the startle reflex in essential tremor: Blunted reactivity to unpleasant and pleasant pictures. Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, 34:54-58.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Essential tremor is a highly prevalent movement disorder characterized by kinetic tremor and mild cognitive-executive changes. These features are commonly attributed to abnormal cerebellar changes, resulting in disruption of cerebellar-thalamo-cortical networks. Less attention has been paid to alterations in basic emotion processing in essential tremor, despite known cerebellar-limbic interconnectivity.
OBJECTIVES: In the current study, we tested the hypothesis that a psychophysiologic index of emotional reactivity, the emotion modulated startle reflex, would be muted in individuals with essential tremor relative to controls.
METHODS: Participants included 19 essential tremor patients and 18 controls, who viewed standard sets of unpleasant, pleasant, and neutral pictures for six seconds each. During picture viewing, white noise bursts were binaurally presented to elicit startle eyeblinks measured over the orbicularis oculi.
RESULTS: Consistent with past literature, controls' startle eyeblink responses were modulated according to picture valence (unpleasant > neutral > pleasant). In essential tremor participants, startle eyeblinks were not modulated by emotion. This modulation failure was not due to medication effects, nor was it due to abnormal appraisal of emotional picture content.
CONCLUSIONS: Neuroanatomically, it remains unclear whether diminished startle modulation in essential tremor is secondary to aberrant cerebellar input to the amygdala, which is involved in priming the startle response in emotional contexts, or due to more direct disruption between the cerebellum and brainstem startle circuitry. If the former is correct, these findings may be the first to reveal dysregulation of emotional networks in essential tremor.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Essential tremor is a highly prevalent movement disorder characterized by kinetic tremor and mild cognitive-executive changes. These features are commonly attributed to abnormal cerebellar changes, resulting in disruption of cerebellar-thalamo-cortical networks. Less attention has been paid to alterations in basic emotion processing in essential tremor, despite known cerebellar-limbic interconnectivity.
OBJECTIVES: In the current study, we tested the hypothesis that a psychophysiologic index of emotional reactivity, the emotion modulated startle reflex, would be muted in individuals with essential tremor relative to controls.
METHODS: Participants included 19 essential tremor patients and 18 controls, who viewed standard sets of unpleasant, pleasant, and neutral pictures for six seconds each. During picture viewing, white noise bursts were binaurally presented to elicit startle eyeblinks measured over the orbicularis oculi.
RESULTS: Consistent with past literature, controls' startle eyeblink responses were modulated according to picture valence (unpleasant > neutral > pleasant). In essential tremor participants, startle eyeblinks were not modulated by emotion. This modulation failure was not due to medication effects, nor was it due to abnormal appraisal of emotional picture content.
CONCLUSIONS: Neuroanatomically, it remains unclear whether diminished startle modulation in essential tremor is secondary to aberrant cerebellar input to the amygdala, which is involved in priming the startle response in emotional contexts, or due to more direct disruption between the cerebellum and brainstem startle circuitry. If the former is correct, these findings may be the first to reveal dysregulation of emotional networks in essential tremor.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute for Regenerative Medicine (IREM)
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:06 Jan 2017 14:35
Last Modified:07 Jan 2017 02:03
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1353-8020
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2016.11.003
PubMed ID:27887893

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