Abstract

The ability to adapt to aversive stimuli is critical for mental health. Here, we investigate the relationship between habituation to startling stimuli and startle-related activity in medial frontal cortex as measured by EEG in both healthy control participants and patients with Parkinson disease (PD). We report three findings. First, patients with PD exhibited normal initial startle responses but reduced startle habituation relative to demographically matched controls. Second, control participants had midfrontal EEG theta activity in response to startling stimuli, and this activity was attenuated in patients with PD. Finally, startle-related midfrontal theta activity was correlated with the rate of startle habituation. These data indicate that impaired startle habituation in PD is a result of attenuated midfrontal cognitive control signals. Our findings could provide insight into the frontal regulation of startle habituation.

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