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Fear responses are particularly intense and persistent in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and can be evoked by unspecific cues that resemble the original traumatic event. Overgeneralisation of fear might be one of the underlying mechanisms. We investigated the generalisation and discrimination of fear in individuals with and without PTSD related to prolonged childhood maltreatment.
Sixty trauma-exposed women with (N = 30) and without (N = 30) PTSD and 30 healthy control participants (HC) underwent a fear conditioning and generalisation paradigm. In a contingency learning procedure, one of two circles of different sizes was associated with an electrical shock (danger cue), while the other circle represented a safety cue. During generalisation testing, online risk ratings, reaction times and fear-potentiated startle were measured in response to safety and danger cues as well as to eight generalisation stimuli, i.e. circles of parametrically varying size creating a continuum of similarity between the danger and safety cue.
The increase in reaction times from the safety cue across the different generalisation classes to the danger cue was less pronounced in PTSD compared with HC. Moreover, PTSD participants expected higher risk of an aversive event independent of stimulus types and task.
Alterations in generalisation constitute one part of fear memory alterations in PTSD. Neither the accuracy of a risk judgement nor the strength of the induced fear was affected. Instead, processing times as an index of uncertainty during risk judgements suggested a reduced differentiation between safety and threat in PTSD.
Instead of converging to one, all-embracing resilience mechanism – that is, positive appraisal style – we encourage complementary research strategies, exploring both vulnerabilities and resilience factors, much like the biomedical sciences combine insights from pathophysiology and immunology. Furthermore, we argue that research with a strong focus on one central resilience mechanism may overlook or undervalue other processes that can aid in maintaining mental health.
Non-specificity of fear is a core aspect of what makes anxiety disorders so impairing: Fear does not remain specific to a single stimulus paired with danger, but generalizes to a broad set of stimuli, resulting in a snowballing of threat signals. The blocking procedure can provide a valuable laboratory model for gaining insight into such threat appraisal and generalization processes. We report two experiments in which we induced selective threat appraisal by using a blocking procedure in human aversive conditioning. We subsequently assessed to what extent such selective threat appraisal is sensitive to different kinds of interference. Results illustrate that the maintenance of selective threat appraisal is not guaranteed: Stimuli present during an aversive conditioning event that are initially tagged with a low threat value, can come to be tagged with a higher threat value later on, without additional experience with these stimuli. We argue that such interference in selective threat appraisal might be one of the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of non-specific fear.
The diet quality index (DQI) for preschool children is a new index developed to reflect compliance with four main food-based dietary guidelines for preschool children in Flanders. The present study investigates: (1) the validity of this index by comparing DQI scores for preschool children with nutrient intakes, both of which were derived from 3 d estimated diet records; (2) the reproducibility of the DQI for preschoolers based on a parentally reported forty-seven-item FFQ DQI, which was repeated after 5 weeks; (3) the relative validity of the FFQ DQI with 3 d record DQI scores as reference. The study sample included 510 and 58 preschoolers (2·5–6·5 years) for validity and reproducibility analyses, respectively. Increasing 3 d record DQI scores were associated with decreasing consumption of added sugars, and increasing intakes of fibre, water, Ca and many micronutrients. Mean FFQ DQI test–retest scores were not significantly different: 72 (sd 11) v. 71 (sd 10) (P = 0·218) out of a maximum of 100. Mean 3 d record DQI score (66 (sd 10)) was significantly lower than mean FFQ DQI (71 (sd 10); P < 0·001). The reproducibility correlation was 0·88. Pearsons correlation (adjusted for within-person variability) between FFQ and 3 d record DQI scores was 0·82. Cross-classification analysis of the FFQ and 3 d record DQI classified 60 % of the subjects in the same category and 3 % in extreme tertiles. Cross-classification of repeated administrations classified 62 % of the subjects in the same category and 3 % in extreme categories. The FFQ-based DQI approach compared well with the 3 d record approach, and it can be used to determine diet quality among preschoolers.
We discuss findings on evaluative conditioning (EC) that are problematic for the “conscious reasoning/propositional knowledge” account of learning, namely, dissociations between conscious beliefs and acquired (dis)liking. We next argue that, both for EC and for Pavlovian learning in general, conditioned responding cannot rationally be inferred from propositional knowledge type “CS refers to/signals US,” and that, therefore, performance cannot be explained.
In the European Union, the definition of a GMO is technology-based. This means that a novel organism will be regulated under the GMO regulatory framework only if it has been developed with the use of defined techniques. This approach is now challenged with the emergence of new techniques. In this paper, we describe regulatory and safety issues associated with the use
of oligonucleotide-mediated mutagenesis to develop novel organisms. We present scientific arguments for not having organisms developed through this technique fall within the scope of the EU regulation on GMOs. We conclude that any political decision on this issue should be taken on the basis of a
broad reflection at EU level, while avoiding discrepancies at international level.
Perspectives from 22 countries on aspects of the legal environment for selection are presented in this article. Issues addressed include (a) whether there are racial/ethnic/religious subgroups viewed as “disadvantaged,” (b) whether research documents mean differences between groups on individual difference measures relevant to job performance, (c) whether there are laws prohibiting discrimination against specific groups, (d) the evidence required to make and refute a claim of discrimination, (e) the consequences of violation of the laws, (f) whether particular selection methods are limited or banned, (g) whether preferential treatment of members of disadvantaged groups is permitted, and (h) whether the practice of industrial and organizational psychology has been affected by the legal environment.
Recent empirical work indicates that reduced autobiographical memory specificity can act as an avoidant processing style. By truncating the memory search before specific elements of traumatic memories are accessed, one can ward off the affective impact of negative reminiscences. This avoidant processing style can be viewed as an instance of what Erdelyi describes as the “subtractive” class of repressive processes.
Dirk Hermans, Department of Psychology, University of Leuven, Tiensestraat 102, 3000 Leuven, Belgium,
Frank Baeyens, Department of Psychology, University of Leuven, Tiensestraat 102, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
Catherine Rouby, Université Lyon I,Benoist Schaal, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris,Danièle Dubois, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris,Rémi Gervais, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris,A. Holley, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris
Odors and the reactions of liking and disliking are so intimately intertwined that it would be difficult to object to the statement (Richardson and Zucco, 1989) that “it is clearly the hedonic meaning of odor that dominates odor perception” (p. 353). The fact that the affective/emotional consequences of odor stimuli are so powerful makes it possible for an economically important industry – perfumery – to thrive on the production of substances whose only real function is to elicit highly positive reactions. Also, because the principal distinctive properties of food flavors are provided by olfaction rather than by taste cues (Rozin, 1982), it could reasonably be argued that the whole of culinary culture is based largely on the same strong connection between evaluative meaning and odor. Besides eliciting the reactions of mere liking or disliking, odors can have considerable emotional impact (Ehrlichman and Halpern, 1988; Miltner et al., 1994). This bond between odors and emotions has long been recognized, and hence it may not be that surprising that the subcortical limbic system, which is considered to be of critical importance in the generation of emotions, was originally known as the rhinencephalon or the “smell brain” (Van Toller, 1988).
Although the evaluative and emotional components and consequences of odors have been given a lot of thought, it is less well appreciated that most human evaluative reactions toward odor stimuli are not fixed and innate, but are largely the products of associative learning (Engen, 1988; Bartoshuk, 1994).
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