Factors governing prepulse inhibition and prepulse facilitation of the acoustic startle response in mice

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The influence of prepulses on the acoustic startle response (ASR) was measured in three inbred mouse strains, C57BL/6J, 129/SvHsd, and AKR/OlaHsd, and one hybrid strain produced by crossing wild mice and NMRI mice. Prepulse inhibition (PPI), i.e. reduction of ASR by prepulses, was maximal when the interval between prepulses and startle stimuli was in the range of 37.5–100ms. Prepulse facilitation (PPF), i.e. increase of ASR by prepulses, was maximal when the prepulse preceded the startle stimulus by 12.5ms. PPI increased with increasing prepulse SPL, PPF first increased then decreased when prepulse SPL was increased. Percent PPI was independent from startle stimulus SPL. All strains showed a long-term increase of PPI when tested for several days; one strain (129) also showed an increase of PPF over days. The present results clearly show that PPI and PPF are independent processes, which add to yield the final response change. PPF and the observed long-term changes of PPI and PPF are stronger expressed in mice than have been observed in rats under similar conditions. Since there were significant differences between the strains of mice with respect to PPI and PPF, genetically different strains of mice are a promising tool to study these two processes.

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