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Impact of Conditioning Inhibitory Control Recruitment to Threat Processing in Trauma Exposed Adults




Afshar, Kaveh

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Psychological Sciences


The underlying mechanisms contributing to the risk and maintenance of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are unclear. Deficits in inhibitory control (IC) have been associated with worse post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in PTSD. Therefore, training IC activation during threat processing may be therapeutic for trauma-exposed individuals. Seventy-one trauma-exposed undergraduate students were recruited and were randomly assigned to either the IC+threat or IC+happy training conditions. In the IC+threat condition, high IC demand trials of a flanker task (e.g., <<><<) were associated with threatening emotional face stimuli, while in the IC+happy condition, high IC demand trials were associated with happy emotional face stimuli. We expected the IC+threat group to improve performance during high IC-demand trials with novel threatening emotional faces. Conversely, the IC+happy group was predicted to exhibit the opposite pattern. Results suggest that IC-emotional processing association can be learned; however, the association does not transfer to novel stimuli.