Changes on the modulation of the startle reflex in alcohol-dependent patients after 12 weeks of a cognitive-behavioral intervention

Journal article


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Publication Details

Author list: Jurado Barba R
Publisher: Karger Publishers
Publication year: 2015
Volume number: 21
Issue number: 4
Start page: 195
End page: 203
Number of pages: 9
ISSN: 1022-6877
Languages: English-Great Britain (EN-GB)


Aims: Little is known about changes in the modulation of the startle
reflex when patients go through an alcohol-dependence treatment in an
outpatient facility. In the current study, the affective modulation of
the cue-related startle reflex has been used to evaluate changes in the
emotional processing of alcohol-related stimuli that occurred after a
standard cognitive-behavioral intervention, and to assess the outcome of
this intervention. We hypothesized a 'normalization' of the startle
inhibition for the alcohol-related cues during the period of treatment.
We also assumed that higher startle inhibition at baseline elicited by
alcohol cues would predict the relapse on alcohol consumption during
treatment. Participants: A total of 98 alcohol-dependent subjects were
included who fulfilled DSM-IV criteria for alcohol dependence. A control
group of 72 subjects was selected to match demographic characteristics.
Measurements: All patients received a standard cognitive-behavioral
therapy once a week throughout the study period. Findings: Results show
that the startle response differed significantly after 12 weeks of
treatment for alcohol-related, neutral and aversive stimuli between
alcohol-dependent patients and controls. Low startle responses at
baseline to alcohol cues predicted relapse. Conclusions: These results
may indicate that the startle reflex is referred to enduring and
permanent processes of cue reactivity, and that the emotional processing
of alcohol-associated cues assessed with the affect-modulated startle
reflex is less altered by interventions attempting to influence explicit
cognitions. Furthermore, lower values of the baseline startle reflex
elicited by alcohol-associated stimuli were associated with higher
probability of relapse on alcohol use


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Last updated on 2019-13-08 at 00:45