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What is going on around here? Intolerance of uncertainty predicts threat generalization

Morriss, J., Henne, B. and Van Reekum, C. M. (2016) What is going on around here? Intolerance of uncertainty predicts threat generalization. PLoS ONE. ISSN 1932-6203

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154494

Abstract/Summary

Attending to stimuli that share perceptual similarity to learned threats is an adaptive strategy. However, prolonged threat generalization to cues signalling safety is considered a core feature of pathological anxiety. One potential factor that may sustain over-generalization is sensitivity to future threat uncertainty. To assess the extent to which Intolerance of Uncertainty (IU) predicts threat generalization, we recorded skin conductance in 54 healthy participants during an associative learning paradigm, where threat and safety cues varied in perceptual similarity. Lower IU was associated with stronger discrimination between threat and safety cues during acquisition and extinction. Higher IU, however, was associated with generalized responding to threat and safety cues during acquisition, and delayed discrimination between threat and safety cues during extinction. These results were specific to IU, over and above other measures of anxious disposition. These findings highlight: (1) a critical role of uncertainty-based mechanisms in threat generalization, and (2) IU as a potential risk factor for anxiety disorder development.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Neuroscience
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:65643
Publisher:Public Library of Science

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