Acoustic startle responses have been studied extensively in relation to individual differences and psychopathology. We examined three indices of the blink response in a picture-viewing paradigm-overall startle magnitude across all picture types, and aversive and pleasant modulation scores-in 3,323 twins and parents. Biometric models and molecular genetic analyses showed that half the variance in overall startle was due to additive genetic effects. No single nucleotide polymorphism was genome-wide significant, but GRIK3 produced a significant effect when examined as part of a candidate gene set. In contrast, emotion modulation scores showed little evidence of heritability in either biometric or molecular genetic analyses. However, in a genome-wide scan, PARP14 produced a significant effect for aversive modulation. We conclude that, although overall startle retains potential as an endophenotype, emotion-modulated startle does not.
- Gene-based tests
- Genome-wide association study
- Molecular genetics