Potentiation of the early visual response to learned danger signals in adults and adolescents

Levita, Liat, Howsley, Philippa, Jordan, Jeff, & Johnston, Pat (2015) Potentiation of the early visual response to learned danger signals in adults and adolescents. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 10(2), pp. 269-277.

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Abstract

The reinforcing effects of aversive outcomes on avoidance behaviour are well established. However, their influence on perceptual processes is less well explored, especially during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Using electroencephalography, we examined whether learning to actively or passively avoid harm can modulate early visual responses in adolescents and adults. The task included two avoidance conditions, active and passive, where two different warning stimuli predicted the imminent, but avoidable, presentation of an aversive tone. To avoid the aversive outcome, participants had to learn to emit an action (active avoidance) for one of the warning stimuli and omit an action for the other (passive avoidance). Both adults and adolescents performed the task with a high degree of accuracy. For both adolescents and adults, increased N170 event-related potential amplitudes were found for both the active and the passive warning stimuli compared with control conditions. Moreover, the potentiation of the N170 to the warning stimuli was stable and long lasting. Developmental differences were also observed; adolescents showed greater potentiation of the N170 component to danger signals. These findings demonstrate, for the first time, that learned danger signals in an instrumental avoidance task can influence early visual sensory processes in both adults and adolescents.

Impact and interest:

4 citations in Scopus
3 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 76430
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: N170 event-related potential, danger signals, avoidance behaviour, adolescence, learning-dependent plasticity
DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsu048
ISSN: 1749-5024
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Developmental Psychology and Ageing (170102)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Sensory Processes Perception and Performance (170112)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 The Author(s)
Deposited On: 05 Nov 2014 22:33
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 16:01

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