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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

Mean outcome expectancy ratings for S+, S−, and the six GSs (+SEM) of the first generalization test block as a function of memory specificity (high vs. low memory specificity) for (A) healthy individuals (left panel, Study 1), and (B) anxiety disorder patients (right panel, Study 2).
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Figure 3: Mean outcome expectancy ratings for S+, S−, and the six GSs (+SEM) of the first generalization test block as a function of memory specificity (high vs. low memory specificity) for (A) healthy individuals (left panel, Study 1), and (B) anxiety disorder patients (right panel, Study 2).

Mentions: During the subsequent test of generalization, outcome expectancy ratings were obtained for the S+, the six GSs, and the S−, which are visualized for the first of three test blocks in Figure 3 (left panel). In the first generalization test block, the mean outcome expectancy ratings for the high specific participants were 4.89 (S+), 5.00 (GS1), 5.21 (GS2), 2.93 (GS3), 1.86 (GS4), 1.07 (GS5), 1.14 (GS6), 0.54 (S−). For the low specific participants, this was 6.17 (S+), 7.07 (GS1), 5.67 (GS2), 6.87 (GS3), 3.07 (GS4), 0.93 (GS5), 1.13 (GS6), 1.53 (S−). The pattern of the data, with decreases in outcome expectancy as the GSs become increasingly dissimilar to the S+, suggests the presence of generalization. The relationship between memory specificity and generalization was examined using a repeated measures MANOVA with Specificity (low specific, high specific) as between-subjects variable, and Block (Block 1–3) and Stimulus (S+, GS1, GS2, GS3, GS4, GS5, GS6, S−) as within-subjects variables. Analyses revealed a main effect of Stimulus over the three test blocks, F(7,189) = 9.64, p < 0.001, partial η2 = 0.52, indicating the presence of generalization. There also was a main effect of Block, F(2, 54) = 4.74, p = 0.018, partial η2 = 0.18, with an overall decrease in outcome expectancy from Block 1 to 3. However, we found no Specificity × Stimulus interaction, F(7,21) = 1.61, p = 0.187, partial η2 = 0.06 (which again may have been due to a lack of power). In summary, we found no evidence for a relationship between memory specificity and generalization in this sample. Interestingly, we did find a main effect of Specificity over the three test blocks, F(1, 27) = 10.49, p = 0.003, partial η2 = 0.28, with higher overall outcome expectancies in low specific individuals, relative to their high specific counterparts. Because only one S+ trial out of a total of ten trials in each test block was followed by the outcome, elevated responding to resembling stimuli may be indicative of impaired discrimination learning in low specific individuals.


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)

Mean outcome expectancy ratings for S+, S−, and the six GSs (+SEM) of the first generalization test block as a function of memory specificity (high vs. low memory specificity) for (A) healthy individuals (left panel, Study 1), and (B) anxiety disorder patients (right panel, Study 2).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 3: Mean outcome expectancy ratings for S+, S−, and the six GSs (+SEM) of the first generalization test block as a function of memory specificity (high vs. low memory specificity) for (A) healthy individuals (left panel, Study 1), and (B) anxiety disorder patients (right panel, Study 2).
Mentions: During the subsequent test of generalization, outcome expectancy ratings were obtained for the S+, the six GSs, and the S−, which are visualized for the first of three test blocks in Figure 3 (left panel). In the first generalization test block, the mean outcome expectancy ratings for the high specific participants were 4.89 (S+), 5.00 (GS1), 5.21 (GS2), 2.93 (GS3), 1.86 (GS4), 1.07 (GS5), 1.14 (GS6), 0.54 (S−). For the low specific participants, this was 6.17 (S+), 7.07 (GS1), 5.67 (GS2), 6.87 (GS3), 3.07 (GS4), 0.93 (GS5), 1.13 (GS6), 1.53 (S−). The pattern of the data, with decreases in outcome expectancy as the GSs become increasingly dissimilar to the S+, suggests the presence of generalization. The relationship between memory specificity and generalization was examined using a repeated measures MANOVA with Specificity (low specific, high specific) as between-subjects variable, and Block (Block 1–3) and Stimulus (S+, GS1, GS2, GS3, GS4, GS5, GS6, S−) as within-subjects variables. Analyses revealed a main effect of Stimulus over the three test blocks, F(7,189) = 9.64, p < 0.001, partial η2 = 0.52, indicating the presence of generalization. There also was a main effect of Block, F(2, 54) = 4.74, p = 0.018, partial η2 = 0.18, with an overall decrease in outcome expectancy from Block 1 to 3. However, we found no Specificity × Stimulus interaction, F(7,21) = 1.61, p = 0.187, partial η2 = 0.06 (which again may have been due to a lack of power). In summary, we found no evidence for a relationship between memory specificity and generalization in this sample. Interestingly, we did find a main effect of Specificity over the three test blocks, F(1, 27) = 10.49, p = 0.003, partial η2 = 0.28, with higher overall outcome expectancies in low specific individuals, relative to their high specific counterparts. Because only one S+ trial out of a total of ten trials in each test block was followed by the outcome, elevated responding to resembling stimuli may be indicative of impaired discrimination learning in low specific individuals.

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