The impact of orbital prefrontal cortex damage on emotional activation to unanticipated and anticipated acoustic startle stimuli

Nicole A. Roberts, Jennifer S. Beer, Kelly H. Werner, Donatella Scabini, Sara M. Levens, Robert T. Knight, Robert W. Levenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Damage to the orbital prefrontal cortex has been implicated in selectively diminishing electrodermal autonomic nervous system responses to anticipated punishing stimuli (e.g., losing money; Bechara, Damasio, & Damasio, 2000), but not to unanticipated punishing stimuli (e.g., loud noises; Damasio, Tranel, & Damasio, 1990). We extended this research by examining the effects of orbitofrontal damage on emotional responses to unanticipated and anticipated acoustic startles and collecting a more extensive set of physiological measures, emotional facial behavior, and self-reported emotional experience. Consistent with previous research, patients showed intact physiology to an unanticipated startle but failed to show appropriate anticipatory cardiovascular responses (patients' heart rates decreased, controls' increased). In addition, patients displayed more surprise facial behavior and reported marginally more fear than did controls in response to the unanticipated startle. Thus, orbitofrontal damage may compromise the ability to anticipate physiologically the onset of aversive stimuli, despite intact or enhanced emotional responses when such stimuli occur unexpectedly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-316
Number of pages10
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Volume4
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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