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Physiological evidence of exaggerated startle response in a subgroup of Vietnam veterans with combat-related PTSD
Am J Psychiatry 1990;147:1308-1312.
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Abstract

One of the diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an exaggerated startle response; however, this phenomenon has not been verified empirically. The authors compared 20 Vietnam combat veterans with PTSD and 18 combat veterans without PTSD on the eyeblink reflex electromyographic response of the startle reaction. Subjects in both groups who failed to show an eyeblink response to the startle stimuli were eliminated from further analyses. Among the remaining subjects, the 13 with PTSD had a significantly greater startle response amplitude than the 12 control subjects at intermediate intensities of acoustic stimuli. The relationship between startle responsivity and both negative and positive symptoms was also investigated.

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