The auditory brainstem response (ABR) was recorded during simultaneous binaural presentation of two types of sounds: 1) condensation clicks presented through in-the-ear earphones at 43.1/sec, 60dB nHL; and 2) recordings of breathing sounds, presented through supra-aural headphones, at levels adjusted by participants to be equivalent to the clicks. In alternate blocks, the breathing sounds were either: 1) a recording of quiet breathing (blocks 1, 3, 5); or 2) a recording of erratic (stressed) breathing (blocks 2, 4). The erratic breathing was modeled on a video game soundtrack in which the character was represented as running, wounded, and frightened. Four 2048-sweep ABR waveforms were collected in each of the five blocks, and the mean amplitude of ABR peak V was calculated over each set of four waveforms. Results indicate a significant decrease in the amplitude of ABR peak V during erratic breathing vs. quiet breathing. Implications include: 1) new evidence of the effect of selective attention on the ABR; 2) the potential for using auditory stressors to study the central physiology of emotional responses in humans; and 3) clues to physiological correlates of the effects of certain video games known to evoke panic attacks in susceptible players.
Lauter, Judith; Mathukutty, Elizabeth; and Scott, Brandon, "How can a video game cause panic attacks? 1. Effects of an auditory stressor on the human brainstem" (2009). Faculty Publications. 13.
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