ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 6, Issue 3, 206-228, 2015
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Motor intention as a trigger for fear of movement-related pain: An experimental cross-US reinstatement study

  Ann Meulders - Research Group on Health Psychology, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  Ann Rousseau - School for Mass Communication Research, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  Johan Vlaeyen - Research Group on Health Psychology, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

Volume 6, Issue 3, 2015, Pages 206-228

Using a voluntary joystick movement task with arm movements as conditioned stimuli (CSs) a and a painful electrocutaneous stimulus as an unconditioned stimulus (pain-US), we investigated whether 1) the intention to perform a painful movement would elicit pain-related fear in healthy participants, 2) a non-painful but aversive sound-US (i.e. human scream) could induce cross-US reinstatement. All groups (same-US/different-US/no-US) received acquisition and extinction with the pain-US. During reinstatement, the same-US group received two unsignaled pain-USs, the different-US group received two unsignaled sound-USs and the no-US group did not receive any stimulus presentations. Next, we tested the return of fear (fear and US-expectancy ratings and startle eyeblink responses) in all groups. Uncoupling motor intention and action led to successful inhibition of pain-related fear elicited by merely thinking about a painful movement as compared to previous study results in which motor intention was always coupled with motor action. The different-US group showed a differential cross-US reinstatement effect in the pain-US expectancy ratings. However, this effect failed to materialize in the fear ratings and startle responses. Taken together, we found partial support for the hypothesis that reinstatement experiences might foster the acquisition of new fears rather than reinstating old fears.

Table of Contents
Apparatus and experimental stimuli
Stimulus material
Preparation phase
Practice phase
Startle probe habituation
Sound-US familiarization
Acquisition phase
Extinction phase
Reinstatement and test of return of fear
Self-reported fear of movement-related pain
Fear-potentiated startle modulation
Retrospective expectancy of the pain-US and the sound-US
Experimental setting
Data analysis overview
US characteristics and questionnaires
Fear-potentiated startle modulation
Motor intention vs. context alone
Motor action vs. context alone
Self-reported fear of movement-related pain
Expectancy of the pain-US and the sound-US after reinstatement
Conflict of interest statement

Correspondence to
Ann Meulders, Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Leuven, Tiensestraat 102, box 3726, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.

fear conditioning; fear of movement-related pain; motor intention; reinstatement; voluntary movement paradigm

Received 12 May 2014; Revised 29 Sep 2014; Accepted 14 Jan 2015; In Press 2 Oct 2015

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