Informations and abstract
The startle reflex is a multicomponential motor response present from birth, to short, sudden and loud stimuli. The analysis of this response has found a widespread application in developmental science, particularly in the medical and psychological fields. In the medical area, the startle response is considered and assessed as the result of a whole-body motor reaction, that can be used as an early diagnostic index of CNS pathologies, especially in newborn infants. The psychological field focuses on the analysis of one single component of the startle motor pattern: the blink reflex. On the basis of the measurement of this reflex, the response is viewed as an investigative tool of emotional or cognitive development. The present work proposed a review of the main diagnostic and research procedures used in the medical and psychological areas. Finally, focusing mostly on the measurement gaps present in both fields, the necessity of setting- up new measurement methodologies for the startle assessment in the early human development is highlighted.