- The development of cued versus contextual conditioning in a predictable and an unpredictable human fear conditioning preparation
- Acta Psychologica
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- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
In this human fear conditioning study, the online development of conditioned US-expectancy to discrete cues and background contexts was measured in two groups. In the paired group (n = 30), the CS was systematically followed by an aversive shock (US). In the unpaired group (n = 30), CS and US were presented explicitly unpaired. Using US-expectancy ratings, we replicated the basic finding already illustrated in humans with startle modulation. In the paired group, the CS elicited more US-expectancy than the context, whereas in the unpaired group, the context elicited more US-expectancy than the CS. Interestingly, we also observed a trial-by-trial development of conditioning to the context in the unpaired group as indicated by a significant linear trend. This gradual development and the evidence for the role of US-expectancy in contextual fear add to the idea that cued and contextual fear rely on the same basic associative processes.
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