An ERP study of the interaction between verbal information and conditioning pathways to fear

Ugland, Carina C O, Dyson, Benjamin J and Field, Andy P (2013) An ERP study of the interaction between verbal information and conditioning pathways to fear. Biological Psychology, 92 (1). pp. 69-81. ISSN 0301-0511

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Two experiments are described that explore the effects of verbal information and direct conditioning in the acquisition and extinction of fear responses. Participants were given verbal threat information about novel animals before conditioning trials in which the animals were presented alongside an aversive outcome (Experiment 1), or positive information about the animals before extinction trials (Experiment 2). Fear was measured using self-reported fear beliefs, expectancy of the unconditioned stimulus (US) and event-related brain potential (ERP). The results showed a direct effect of verbal information on acquisition (Experiment 1) and extinction (Experiment 2). There was a P2 peak latency shift at acquisition (Experiment 1) and P1 mean amplitude response at extinction (Experiment 2) based on the interaction between verbal information and US-contingency. However, the P2 response showed little evidence for an enhanced conditioned response (CR) when verbal threat information and direct conditioning combined: earlier P2 responses were found for all animals that had been associated with either threat information or the aversive US. Additionally, increase in P1 mean amplitude response (Experiment 2) seemed to stem from the conflict between verbal information and contingency information, rather than the predicted decrease in response where positive information and extinction training were combined. Future studies are suggested that might explore whether attention/arousal modulate the P1 response as a result of such expectation violations.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Conditioning; ERP; Fear
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0180 Experimental psychology
Depositing User: Andy Field
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2013 08:25
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2015 14:02
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