| Volume 3, Issue 1, 84-102, 2012 |
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|Repetitive Thought about an Aversive Learning Experience Maintains Conditioned Responding|
|Els Joos, Debora Vansteenwegen, and Dirk Hermans|
|University of Leuven, Belgium|
|Volume 3, Issue 1, 2012, Pages 84-102|
|Clinical anxiety is often believed to be based on fear conditioning, a procedure of pairing an originally neutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus, CS) with an aversive unconditioned stimulus (US), which results in the CS eliciting a conditioned fear response in the absence of the US. Recently, it was shown that repeatedly thinking about an aversive conditioning event maintains subsequent fear responding. A crucial question is how such effects should be interpreted. Does rehearsal of a CS-US-contingency result in a strengthened memory trace of the conditioning experience or in changes in the US-representation (e.g., US-inflation or increased US-coherence)? The current study was set up to investigate the underlying mechanism of this rehearsal effect. After acquisition training with two CS+s paired with the same US, participants rehearsed one of both CS-US-contingencies. The CS+ that was part of the rehearsed contingency elicited more US-expectancy than the CS+ that was not rehearsed. As changes in the US-representation could not explain our data, we suggest that a strengthening of the memory trace of the CS-US-association underlies this effect. Repetitive thought about a conditioning experience seems to result in sustained conditioned responding due to a strengthened CS-US-association. We propose that the repetitive nature of thought processes such as worry might partly explain its unconstructive role in anxiety. |
|Table of Contents|
Stimuli and Apparatus
Stimulus selection phase.
Acquisition phase and Acquisition test phase.
Rehearsal phase 1 and Rehearsal test 1.
Rehearsal phase 2 and Rehearsal test 2.
Manipulation check of rehearsal instruction
Was acquisition successful in US-expectancy ratings and fear ratings?
Does CS-US-rehearsal impact subsequent conditioned responding?
Did CS-US-rehearsal result in an inflation of the negative value of the US-representation?
Did spreading of activation to the CS+Non-rehearsed–US-association influence the observed rehearsal effect?
Did rehearsal of the CS+Rehearsed-US-contingency activate the CS+Non-rehearsed–US-association?
Did activation of the CS+Non-rehearsed-US-association attenuate the effect of CS-US-rehearsal on CR strength?
|Dirk Hermans, Department of Psychology, University of Leuven, Tiensestraat 102 box 3712, 3000 Leuven, Belgium. |
|fear conditioning, rehearsal, repetitive thought, US-representation, US-inflation |
|Received 20 Apr 2011; Revised 5 Jul 2011; Accepted 10 Aug 2011; In Press 5 Feb 2012 |