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Cued aversive classical conditioning in humans: The role of trait-anxiety

Author(s): Óscar Andión | Xavier Caseras | Miquel Àngel Fullana | Alberto Fernandez-Teruel | Marc Ferrer | Miquel Casas | Rafael Torrubia

Journal: Open Journal of Psychiatry
ISSN 2161-7325

Volume: 03;
Issue: 02;
Start page: 230;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Classical Conditioning | Startle Reflex | Trait-Anxiety | Cued Conditioning | Fear-Potentiated Startle

No study so far has specifically addressed the influence of individual differences in trait-anxiety on aversive classical conditioning as indexed by the startle reflex response. We compared the startle reflex responses between participants classified as high (n = 25) and low (n = 26) in trait-anxiety while undergoing a single-cue aversive classical conditioning procedure. High trait-anxiety group showed a greater startle response to the CS relative to the ITI at the post-acquisition compared with the pre-acquisition phase. Low trait-anxiety group did not show such a clear pattern of conditioning, and results from this group seem to be concealed by differences in the startle responses to the CS and the ITI during the pre-acquisition phase. However, a post-hoc analysis in which such differences at pre-conditioning were removed showed no conditioning effects in low trait-anxiety participants. Taking together, these results suggest differences between high and low trait-anxiety groups in the acquisition of the CS-US association. However, further research should clarify the unexpected pattern of responses shown by low trait-anxiety group.
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