© 2018 Elsevier Inc. The modulation of the eyeblink component of the acoustic startle reflex (ASR) has been used to study human motivation, attention, and emotion towards affective stimuli of different valence. However, sex and individual differences in personality have been rather overlooked concerning the change in the ASR to brief affective sequences. In this study, we aimed to evaluate sex differences in the ASR, together with the influence of sensitivity to punishment (SP) and sensitivity to reward (SR) in the affective modulation of the ASR to pleasant and unpleasant pictures. We addressed this topic with a latent curve model (LCM) representing the change in the ASR of an extensive group of men (n = 166) and women (n = 109). There was a significant habituation of the ASR to the pleasant pictures, and a significant sensitization of the ASR to the unpleasant pictures. Both effects were higher and more variable for women than for men. There were in addition interactive and quadratic effects of SP and SR on the ASR to the pleasant and unpleasant pictures. Men and women with extreme scores in SP, and women with low scores in SR habituated faster to the pleasant stimuli. For men scoring low in SP, higher scores in SR related with an attenuated initial ASR to the unpleasant stimuli. Women with extreme scores in SP had a higher initial ASR to the unpleasant stimuli. There were remarkable asymmetries between men and women concerning personality effects on the change in the ASR to affective stimuli.
- Acoustic startle reflex
- Sex differences