Sensitivity to masked conditioned stimuli predicts conditioned response magnitude under masked conditions

Brian R. Cornwell*, Aileen M. Echiverri, Christian Grillon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Expression of conditioned fear has been reported to be independent of perceptual awareness of conditioned stimuli (CSs). Previous studies have been criticized, however, for not adequately assessing perceptual awareness. We fear-conditioned participants to one of two symbols and measured skin conductance responses to dichoptically masked and unmasked CSs. Participants also performed a target detection task and sensitivity (d′) to the masked conditioned stimuli (CS+, CS-) was measured. Results showed that sensitivity under masking conditions was related to conditioned responses to masked CSs but not unmasked CSs. Thus, a strong relationship between expression of conditioned fear and awareness of the CS+ emerges when the latter is assessed by signal detection methods. Without consensus on how awareness should be defined, these findings bring balance to previous studies that have typically used less sensitive assessments of awareness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-406
Number of pages4
JournalPsychophysiology
Volume44
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Awareness
  • Fear conditioning
  • Masking
  • Signal detection
  • Skin conductance

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