Modulation of defensive reflexes by contextual cues: Effect of environmental light-darkness

María Sánchez, María Carmen Fernández, Francisca López, Jaime Vila

Abstract


The results of a study aimed to examine the effect of manipulating environmental lightdarkness on the amplitude of two defensive reflexes -the startle motor reflex and the cardiac defense response- are presented. Using a between group design, four light levels were manipulated: complete darkness (0 Lux), penumbra (11 lux), medium light (175 lux) and intense light (1225). 60 volunteer student women participated in the study (15 per group). Both reflexes were examined, presenting a white noise of 105 dB, 500 millisecond duration and instantaneous risetime five occasions. The results show a potentiation of the cardiac defense response under conditions of darkness-penumbra, as compared to conditions of medium-intense light. These results are discussed under of Peter J. Lang's motivational priming theory and the neurophysiological differentiation between fear and anxiety.


Keywords


Startle; defense; heart rate; electromyography; fear; anxiety



DOI: https://doi.org/10.5944/ap.1.2.547

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