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Relationship between fear conditionability and aversive memories : evidence from a novel conditioned-intrusion paradigm
VerfasserWegerer, Melanie ; Blechert, Jens ; Kerschbaum, Hubert ; Wilhelm, Frank H.
Erschienen in
PLoS ONE, London, 2013, Jg. 8, H. 11, S. 1-13
ErschienenPubMed Central, 2013
SpracheEnglisch
DokumenttypAufsatz in einer Zeitschrift
ISSN1932-6203
URNurn:nbn:at:at-ubs:3-520 Persistent Identifier (URN)
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 Das Werk ist frei verfügbar
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Relationship between fear conditionability and aversive memories [0.58 mb]
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Zusammenfassung (Englisch)

Intrusive memories a hallmark symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are often triggered by stimuli possessing similarity with cues that predicted or accompanied the traumatic event. According to learning theories, intrusive memories can be seen as a conditioned response to trauma reminders. However, direct laboratory evidence for the link between fear conditionability and intrusive memories is missing. Furthermore, fear conditioning studies have predominantly relied on standardized aversive stimuli (e.g. electric stimulation) that bear little resemblance to typical traumatic events. To investigate the general relationship between fear conditionability and aversive memories, we tested 66 mentally healthy females in a novel conditioned-intrusion paradigm designed to model real-life traumatic experiences. The paradigm included a differential fear conditioning procedure with neutral sounds as conditioned stimuli and short violent film clips as unconditioned stimuli. Subsequent aversive memories were assessed through a memory triggering task (within 30 minutes, in the laboratory) and ambulatory assessment (involuntary aversive memories in the 2 days following the experiment). Skin conductance responses and subjective ratings demonstrated successful differential conditioning indicating that naturalistic aversive film stimuli can be used in a fear conditioning experiment. Furthermore, aversive memories were elicited in response to the conditioned stimuli during the memory triggering task and also occurred in the 2 days following the experiment. Importantly, participants who displayed higher conditionability showed more aversive memories during the memory triggering task and during ambulatory assessment. This suggests that fear conditioning constitutes an important source of persistent aversive memories. Implications for PTSD and its treatment are discussed.