Deleting "fear" from "fear extinction": Estimating the individual extinction rate via non-aversive conditioning.

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Date: July 2021
Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Report; Brief article
Length: 310 words

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Abstract :

Keywords Conditioning; Extinction learning; Non-aversive US; LCGA; Inter-individual differences Highlights * Extinction rates might be a marker for anxiety disorders and treatment response. * Aversive and neutral unconditioned stimuli were included in a conditioning task. * Extinction indices for neutral and aversive outcomes overlapped. * Conditioning with neutral outcomes might suffice to estimate extinction rates. Abstract Individual differences in extinction learning have attracted ample attention of researchers and are under investigation as a marker for the onset of anxiety disorders and treatment response. Unfortunately, the common paradigm for obtaining the extinction rate, which entails aversive stimulus pairings, is subject to practical limitations. Therefore, the present study assessed whether the use of an aversive stimulus is actually needed to get a good estimate of the extinction rate. A total of 161 undergraduate students completed a conditioning task with both an aversive and a non-aversive stimulus. Using latent class growth analysis (LCGA), distinct trajectories, representing normal and stunted extinction learning, were identified for both these stimulus types. Participants' membership in these classes largely overlapped for aversive and non-aversive stimulus pairings and respective extinction indices were significantly correlated. Thereby, findings suggest that the use of a non-aversive stimulus could suffice for successfully capturing individual differences in extinction learning. However, future studies are needed to confirm that conditioning with a non-aversive stimulus may serve to predict clinically relevant outcomes. Author Affiliation: (a) Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University, the Netherlands (b) Department of Clinical Psychology and Experimental Psychopathology, University of Groningen, the Netherlands (c) Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology, Ghent University and Center for the Learning of Psychology and Experimental Psychopathology, KU Leuven, Belgium * Corresponding author. Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, B-9000, Ghent, Belgium. Article History: Received 27 May 2020; Revised 3 November 2020; Accepted 19 April 2021 Byline: Michelle Spix (a), Miriam J.J. Lommen (b), Yannick Boddez [] (c,*)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A664259794