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Mechanisms of attention for appetitive and aversive outcomes in Pavlovian conditioning

Mechanisms of attention for appetitive and aversive outcomes in Pavlovian conditioning

Behavioural Brain Research 213(1): 19-26

Different mechanisms of attention controlling learning have been proposed in appetitive and aversive conditioning. The aim of the present study was to compare attention and learning in a Pavlovian conditioning paradigm using visual stimuli of varying predictive value of either monetary reward (appetitive conditioning; 10p or 50p) or blast of white noise (aversive conditioning; 97 dB or 102 dB). Outcome values were matched across the two conditions with regard to their emotional significance. Sixty-four participants were allocated to one of the four conditions matched for age and gender. All participants underwent a discriminative learning task using pairs of visual stimuli that signalled a 100%, 50%, or 0% probability of receiving an outcome. Learning was measured using a 9-point Likert scale of expectancy of the outcome, while attention using an eyetracker device. Arousal and emotional conditioning were also evaluated. Dwell time was greatest for the full predictor in the noise groups, while in the money groups attention was greatest for the partial predictor over the other two predictors. The progression of learning was the same for both groups. These findings suggest that in aversive conditioning attention is driven by the predictive salience of the stimulus while in appetitive conditioning attention is error-driven, when emotional value of the outcome is comparable.

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Accession: 054298523

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PMID: 20412818

DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2010.04.019

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