Impact of Conditioning Inhibitory Control Recruitment to Threat Processing in Trauma Exposed Adults
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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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.