The startle pattern
AbstractReviews the book, by C. Landis & W. A. Hunt (with a chapter by H. Strauss) . In their introduction, the authors correctly state that significant findings often result from the careful investigation of relatively simple processes. The present volume demonstrates the correctness of this thesis. After a review of the literature on the subject, the authors explain the technique of the investigation, which was the same in outline for all of the special experiments reported. Essentially, this technique consists in the development of high-speed motion-picture cameras in such a way that accurate timing of the onset of the stimulus and of the temporal details of the response can be recorded. The normal startle response, as previously described by Strauss, includes blinking of the eyes, head movement forward, change in facial expression, raising and drawing forward of the shoulders, abduction of the upper arms, bending of the elbows, pronation of the lower arms, flexion of the fingers, forward movement of the trunk, contraction of the abdomen, and bending of the knees. The book also describes the pattern in the case of deaf subjects, adrenalized subjects, and hypnotized subjects. In the case of the latter subjects, the pattern can be better inhibited under hypnotic instruction than by voluntary control. The neural mechanisms of the response and the correlated physiological and psychological processes are also discussed. According to the reviewer, in evaluating the book it may be said that it records a well-conceived and carefully executed series of experiments which give a definite and coherent picture of a simple and yet significant pattern of human behavior. It is a good piece of scientific work, well done and well reported.