In her presidential address to the Society for Psychophysiological Research, Graham (1975) proposed a general theory of acoustic startle-blink modulation that postulated three underlying mechanisms:

Any onset, offset, or qualitative change in stimulation automatically engages an inhibitory mechanism that protects preattentive perceptual analyses of that stimulus from interruption by concurrent reflexive behavior.

Sustained prestimulation triggers an increase in immediate arousal that nonselectively facilitates motoric processes.

Prestimuli can also engage attentional orienting, thereby modifying sensory analyses of a subsequent reflexogenic stimulus.