Open Access Research article

Prepulse inhibition of auditory change-related cortical responses

Koji Inui1*, Aki Tsuruhara1, Minori Kodaira1, Eishi Motomura2, Hisashi Tanii2, Makoto Nishihara3, Sumru Keceli1 and Ryusuke Kakigi1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Integrative Physiology, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Okazaki, 444-8585, Japan

2 Department of Psychiatry, Mie University Graduate School of Medicine, Tsu, 514-8507, Japan

3 Multidisciplinary Pain Center, Aichi Medical University, Aichi, 480-1195, Japan

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Neuroscience 2012, 13:135  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-13-135

Published: 31 October 2012



Prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the startle response is an important tool to investigate the biology of schizophrenia. PPI is usually observed by use of a startle reflex such as blinking following an intense sound. A similar phenomenon has not been reported for cortical responses.


In 12 healthy subjects, change-related cortical activity in response to an abrupt increase of sound pressure by 5 dB above the background of 65 dB SPL (test stimulus) was measured using magnetoencephalography. The test stimulus evoked a clear cortical response peaking at around 130 ms (Change-N1m). In Experiment 1, effects of the intensity of a prepulse (0.5 ~ 5 dB) on the test response were examined using a paired stimulation paradigm. In Experiment 2, effects of the interval between the prepulse and test stimulus were examined using interstimulus intervals (ISIs) of 50 ~ 350 ms. When the test stimulus was preceded by the prepulse, the Change-N1m was more strongly inhibited by a stronger prepulse (Experiment 1) and a shorter ISI prepulse (Experiment 2). In addition, the amplitude of the test Change-N1m correlated positively with both the amplitude of the prepulse-evoked response and the degree of inhibition, suggesting that subjects who are more sensitive to the auditory change are more strongly inhibited by the prepulse.


Since Change-N1m is easy to measure and control, it would be a valuable tool to investigate mechanisms of sensory gating or the biology of certain mental diseases such as schizophrenia.