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Reduced autobiographical memory specificity is associated with impaired discrimination learning in anxiety disorder patients.

Lenaert B, Boddez Y, Vervliet B, Schruers K, Hermans D - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: In a sample of healthy participants (Study 1), we did not find evidence for differences in discrimination learning as a function of memory specificity.In contrast to previous findings, results revealed no effect of memory specificity on generalization.Because we used a neutral, non-aversive outcome (i.e., drawing of a lightning bolt), these data suggest that learning abnormalities in panic disorder may not be restricted to fear learning, but rather reflect a more general associative learning deficit that also manifests in fear irrelevant contexts.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Centre for the Psychology of Learning and Experimental Psychopathology, University of Leuven Leuven, Belgium.

ABSTRACT
Associative learning plays an important role in the development of anxiety disorders, but a thorough understanding of the variables that impact such learning is still lacking. We investigated whether individual differences in autobiographical memory specificity are related to discrimination learning and generalization. In an associative learning task, participants learned the association between two pictures of female faces and a non-aversive outcome. Subsequently, six morphed pictures functioning as generalization stimuli (GSs) were introduced. In a sample of healthy participants (Study 1), we did not find evidence for differences in discrimination learning as a function of memory specificity. In a sample of anxiety disorder patients (Study 2), individuals who were characterized by low memory specificity showed deficient discrimination learning relative to high specific individuals. In contrast to previous findings, results revealed no effect of memory specificity on generalization. These results indicate that impaired discrimination learning, previously shown in patients suffering from an anxiety disorder, may be-in part-due to limited memory specificity. Together, these studies emphasize the importance of incorporating cognitive variables in associative learning theories and their implications for the development of anxiety disorders. In addition, re-analyses of the data (Study 3) showed that patients suffering from panic disorder showed higher outcome expectancies in the presence of the stimulus that was never followed by an outcome during discrimination training, relative to patients suffering from other anxiety disorders and healthy participants. Because we used a neutral, non-aversive outcome (i.e., drawing of a lightning bolt), these data suggest that learning abnormalities in panic disorder may not be restricted to fear learning, but rather reflect a more general associative learning deficit that also manifests in fear irrelevant contexts.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

The S+, the S−, and the 6 GSs. For half of participants, the S+, the S−, and the corresponding GSs were reversed.
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Figure 1: The S+, the S−, and the 6 GSs. For half of participants, the S+, the S−, and the corresponding GSs were reversed.

Mentions: Stimuli were presented on a black background in the center of a laptop computer screen (38.1 cm). The associative learning task was programmed with Affect 4.0 software (Spruyt et al., 2010). The S+ and S− were pictures of neutral human female faces (DeBruine, 2005). For half of the participants, one picture of a female face served as S+, whereas the other picture served as S−. For the other participants, this was reversed. The pictures were presented 95 mm wide and 127 mm high (360 × 480 pixels). The GS were obtained by transforming the S+ into the S− in six gradual steps using specialized software, resulting in six GS that resembled the S+ (S−) to a greater or lesser extent (see Figure 1). A drawing of a white lightning bolt, which measured 45 by 28 mm, served as the outcome. The experimental trials consisted of the presentation of a picture of a female face (S+, S− or GS), which was immediately followed by the outcome only after S+ presentations. The lightning bolt was presented for 1500 ms. The inter trial interval was set to 3000 ms.


Reduced autobiographical memory specificity is associated with impaired discrimination learning in anxiety disorder patients.

Lenaert B, Boddez Y, Vervliet B, Schruers K, Hermans D - Front Psychol (2015)

The S+, the S−, and the 6 GSs. For half of participants, the S+, the S−, and the corresponding GSs were reversed.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4487172&req=5

Figure 1: The S+, the S−, and the 6 GSs. For half of participants, the S+, the S−, and the corresponding GSs were reversed.
Mentions: Stimuli were presented on a black background in the center of a laptop computer screen (38.1 cm). The associative learning task was programmed with Affect 4.0 software (Spruyt et al., 2010). The S+ and S− were pictures of neutral human female faces (DeBruine, 2005). For half of the participants, one picture of a female face served as S+, whereas the other picture served as S−. For the other participants, this was reversed. The pictures were presented 95 mm wide and 127 mm high (360 × 480 pixels). The GS were obtained by transforming the S+ into the S− in six gradual steps using specialized software, resulting in six GS that resembled the S+ (S−) to a greater or lesser extent (see Figure 1). A drawing of a white lightning bolt, which measured 45 by 28 mm, served as the outcome. The experimental trials consisted of the presentation of a picture of a female face (S+, S− or GS), which was immediately followed by the outcome only after S+ presentations. The lightning bolt was presented for 1500 ms. The inter trial interval was set to 3000 ms.

Bottom Line: In a sample of healthy participants (Study 1), we did not find evidence for differences in discrimination learning as a function of memory specificity.In contrast to previous findings, results revealed no effect of memory specificity on generalization.Because we used a neutral, non-aversive outcome (i.e., drawing of a lightning bolt), these data suggest that learning abnormalities in panic disorder may not be restricted to fear learning, but rather reflect a more general associative learning deficit that also manifests in fear irrelevant contexts.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Centre for the Psychology of Learning and Experimental Psychopathology, University of Leuven Leuven, Belgium.

ABSTRACT
Associative learning plays an important role in the development of anxiety disorders, but a thorough understanding of the variables that impact such learning is still lacking. We investigated whether individual differences in autobiographical memory specificity are related to discrimination learning and generalization. In an associative learning task, participants learned the association between two pictures of female faces and a non-aversive outcome. Subsequently, six morphed pictures functioning as generalization stimuli (GSs) were introduced. In a sample of healthy participants (Study 1), we did not find evidence for differences in discrimination learning as a function of memory specificity. In a sample of anxiety disorder patients (Study 2), individuals who were characterized by low memory specificity showed deficient discrimination learning relative to high specific individuals. In contrast to previous findings, results revealed no effect of memory specificity on generalization. These results indicate that impaired discrimination learning, previously shown in patients suffering from an anxiety disorder, may be-in part-due to limited memory specificity. Together, these studies emphasize the importance of incorporating cognitive variables in associative learning theories and their implications for the development of anxiety disorders. In addition, re-analyses of the data (Study 3) showed that patients suffering from panic disorder showed higher outcome expectancies in the presence of the stimulus that was never followed by an outcome during discrimination training, relative to patients suffering from other anxiety disorders and healthy participants. Because we used a neutral, non-aversive outcome (i.e., drawing of a lightning bolt), these data suggest that learning abnormalities in panic disorder may not be restricted to fear learning, but rather reflect a more general associative learning deficit that also manifests in fear irrelevant contexts.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus