ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
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Magnitude of conditioned responses to threat and safety cues as predictors of anxiety symptoms in high risk children: A twelve-month follow-up

Authors
  Allison Waters - Griffith University

In Press (Uncorrected Proof), Pages 1-20
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5127/jep.055716

Abstract

While both maternal emotional disorders and perturbed fear learning increase risk for emotional disorder, it remains unclear the way in which these factors interact.  This study examined whether responding during Pavlovian fear conditioning and extinction (Time 1) differentially predicted anxiety and depression symptoms 12 months later (Time 2) in 23 children with maternal risk for emotional disorders and 23 low risk comparisons.  At Time 1, participants completed diagnostic and symptom measures and a discriminative conditioning and extinction task using shape conditional stimuli paired with (CS+) and without (CS-) an aversive tone unconditioned stimulus (UCS).  Skin conductance responses (SCRs) were assessed in latency windows corresponding to CS orienting (first interval), UCS anticipation (second interval) and response to the UCS (third interval). Diagnostic and symptom measures were repeated at Time 2. Larger acquisition third interval SCRs during CS- trials predicted higher Time 2 anxiety symptoms in all children, irrespective of maternal diagnostic status. Larger acquisition first interval SCRs during CS+ trials predicted higher Time 2 anxiety symptoms in high risk offspring but not low risk comparisons. There were no significant effects involving fear extinction responses. All analyses involving the prediction of depression symptoms were not significant. Elevated responding to safety cues may be a general risk marker among children, and larger orienting responses to threat cues may be a specific risk marker in high risk offspring for increasing anxiety but not depressive symptoms over time.


Table of Contents

Correspondence to
Dr Allison Waters

Keywords
Children, anxiety, depression, high risk, conditioning, extinction, skin conductance responses

Dates
Received 7 Feb 2016; Revised 14 Sep 2016; Accepted 14 Sep 2016; In Press 25 Sep 2016







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