ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 2, Issue 3, 432-448, 2011
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Associative Conditioning Deficits: Caused by or Cause of Anxiety?

Authors
Jason M. Prenoveau (a), Michelle G. Craske (b), Betty Liao (b), and Edward M. Ornitz (c)
(a) Loyola University Maryland, USA
(b) Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
(c) Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Science, Center for Neurobiology of Stress, and Brain Research Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Volume 2, Issue 3, 2011, Pages 432-448
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5127/jep.018211

Abstract
Associative conditioning deficits resulting in a sense of perceived unpredictability have been linked with increases in contextual anxiety and behavioral avoidance. Trait and state anxiety were investigated as predictors of such conditioning deficits. In a differential fear conditioning paradigm with 107 healthy participants, state, but not trait, anxiety predicted awareness of the association between the conditioned stimulus (CS+) and an aversive unconditioned stimulus (US) as assessed by post-experimental questionnaire and an online measure of US expectancy. Independent of initial state anxiety, unaware participants demonstrated increased contextual anxiety compared to aware participants as indicated by skin conductance responses (physiological arousal), eye blink startle reflex (defensive emotional response), and self-reported fear of the CS- (CS not paired with the US) as well as by self-reported US expectancy during intertrial intervals. Current findings may help to explain the perpetuating nature of anxiety.

Table of Contents
Introduction
Methods and Materials
  Participants
  Materials
    Self-Report Measures.
    Behavioral Measure.
    Physiological Measures.
    Apparatus.
  Procedure
  Data Reduction and Statistical Analysis
Results
  Contingency Awareness and Predictors of Awareness
  Impact of Contingency Awareness on Conditioning
  Impact of Contingency Awareness on Changes in Responding During Acquisition
  Impact of Contingency Awareness on Avoidance
  Impact of State Anxiety on Changes in Responding During Acquisition and Avoidance
  Contingency Awareness and State Anxiety as Simultaneous Predictors
Discussion
  State Anxiety and Associative Conditioning
  State Anxiety, Associative Conditioning Deficits, and Increased Contextual Anxiety
  Implications for Etiology, Maintenance, and Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
  Limitations and Future Directions
Conclusion
Acknowledgements
References

Correspondence to
Jason M. Prenoveau, Department of Psychology, Loyola University Maryland, 4501 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21210, USA.

Keywords
fear conditioning; context conditioning; anxiety; psychophysiology; contingency awareness

Dates
Received 24 Nov 2010; Revised 22 Apr 2011; Accepted 27 Apr 2011; In Press 24 Jul 2011







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