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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.



This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and AIP Publishing. This article appeared in

Lauter, J., Mathukutty, E., & Scott, B. How can a video game cause panic attacks? 1. Effects of an auditory stressor on the human brainstem. Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics, Vol. 8, 050001 (2009).

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