A common method for measuring changes in temporal processing sensitivity in both humans and animals makes use of GaP-induced Inhibition of the Acoustic Startle (GPIAS). It is also the basis of a common method for detecting tinnitus in rodents. However, the link to tinnitus has not been properly established because GPIAS has not yet been used to objectively demonstrate tinnitus in humans. In guinea pigs, the Preyer (ear flick) myogenic reflex is an established method for measuring the acoustic startle for the GPIAS test, while in humans, it is the eye-blink reflex. Yet, humans have a vestigial remnant of the Preyer reflex, which can be detected by measuring skin surface potentials associated with the Post-Auricular Muscle Response (PAMR). A similar electrical potential can be measured in guinea pigs and we aimed to show that the PAMR could be used to demonstrate GPIAS in both species. In guinea pigs, we compare the GPIAS measured using the pinna movement of the Preyer reflex and the electrical potential of the PAMR to demonstrate that the two are at least equivalent. In humans, we establish for the first time that the PAMR provides a reliable way of measuring GPIAS that is a pure acoustic alternative to the multimodal eye-blink reflex. Further exploratory tests showed that while eye gaze position influenced the size of the PAMR response, it did not change the degree of GPIAS. Our findings confirm that the PAMR is a sensitive method for measuring GPIAS and suggest that it may allow direct comparison of temporal processing between humans and animals and may provide a basis for an objective test of tinnitus.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.