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  • 1.
    Dhamija, Devika
    et al.
    Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Tuvblad, Catherine
    Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work. Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Dawson, Michael
    Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Raine, Adrian
    Departments of Criminology, Psychiatry, and Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia PA, USA.
    Baker, Laura A.
    Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.
    Heritability of startle reactivity and affect modified startle2017In: International Journal of Psychophysiology, ISSN 0167-8760, E-ISSN 1872-7697, Vol. 115, p. 57-64Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Startle reflex and affect-modified startle reflex are used as indicators of defensive reactivity and emotional processing, respectively. The present study investigated the heritability of both the startle blink reflex and affect modification of this reflex in a community sample of 772 twins ages 14–15 years old. Subjects were shown affective picture slides falling in three valence categories: negative, positive and neutral; crossed with two arousal categories: high arousal and low arousal. Some of these slides were accompanied with a loud startling noise. Results suggestedsex differences in meanlevels of startle reflex as well as in proportions of variance explained by genetic and environmental factors. Females had higher mean startle blink amplitudes for each valence-arousal slide category, indicating greater baseline defensive reactivity compared to males. Startle blink reflex in males was significantly heritable (49%), whereas in females, variance was explained primarily by shared environmental factors (53%) and non-shared environmental factors (41%). Heritability of affect modified startle (AMS) was found to be negligible in both males and females. These results suggest sex differences in the etiology of startle reactivity, while questioning the utility of the startle paradigm for understanding the genetic basis of emotional processing.

  • 2.
    Venables, N. C.
    et al.
    Florida State University, Tallahassee FL, USA.
    Hicks, B. M
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI, USA.
    Yancey, J. R.
    Florida State University, Tallahassee FL, USA.
    Kramer, Mark
    Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis MN, USA.
    Nelson, L. D.
    Medical College of Wisconsin, Wauwatosa WI, USA.
    Strickland, C. M.
    Florida State University, Tallahassee FL, USA.
    Krueger, R. F.
    University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN, USA.
    Iacono, W. G.
    University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN, USA.
    Patrick, C. J.
    Florida State University, Tallahassee FL, USA.
    Evidence of a prominent genetic basis for associations between psychoneurometric traits and common mental disorders2017In: International Journal of Psychophysiology, ISSN 0167-8760, E-ISSN 1872-7697, Vol. 115, p. 4-12Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Threat sensitivity (THT) and weak inhibitory control (or disinhibition; DIS) are trait constructs that relate to multiple types of psychopathology and can be assessed psychoneurometrically (i.e., using self-report and physiological indicators combined). However, to establish that psychoneurometric assessments of THT and DIS index biologically-based liabilities, it is important to clarify the etiologic bases of these variables and their associations with clinical problems. The current work addressed this important issue using data from a sample of identical and fraternal adult twins (N = 454). THT was quantified using a scale measure and three physiological indicators of emotional reactivity to visual aversive stimuli. DIS was operationalized using scores on two scale measures combined with two brain indicators from cognitive processing tasks. THT and DIS operationalized in these ways both showed appreciable heritability (0.45, 0.68), and genetic variance in these traits accounted for most of their phenotypic associations with fear, distress, and substance use disorder symptoms. Our findings suggest that, as indices of basic dispositional liabilities for multiple forms of psychopathology with direct links to neurophysiology, psychoneurometric assessments of THT and DIS represent novel and important targets for biologically-oriented research on psychopathology.

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