The association between mnemonic discrimination ability and differential fear learning

Per Davidson, Peter Jönsson, Mikael Johansson

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelPeer review

1 Citeringar (Scopus)
45 Nedladdningar (Pure)


Background and objectives: It is important to be able to learn which stimuli in our surroundings predict aversive outcomes. To maintain emotional well-being, it is similarly important to be able to learn which stimuli predict safety. The ability to discriminate between stimuli that predict danger and safety has been suggested to not only have an emotional component, but also a cognitive one. One such candidate mechanism is mnemonic discrimination (MD), the ability to differentiate between two memories that are similar but not identical. In the present study, we wanted to examine if MD performance helps to explain inter-individual differences in the ability to acquire a differentiated fear response during fear conditioning. Methods: Participants performed a task assessing MD ability, and then underwent a fear conditioning procedure. Fear responses were measured using skin conductance responses (SCRs). Results: Results revealed no support for MD ability being associated with to which degree a differentiated fear response was acquired, or with the time needed to acquire such a response. Limitations: Our only outcome measurement was SCRs. Future studies need to include fear ratings, expectancy ratings and neural responses. Future studies also need to examine this using a stimulus material where the conditioned stimulus and the safety stimulus are more difficult to distinguish from each other. Conclusions: If MD ability has a role in inhibiting overgeneralization of fear learning, this does not seem to be driven by MD already during the initial learning.

TidskriftJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
StatusPublicerad - 2021-dec.-09

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  • Psykologi (50101)


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