Affective states high in arousal modulate associative learning processes in latent inhibition

[Speaker] Sachse, Pierre:1
[Co-author] Campidell, Thomas:1, Furtner, Marco:1, Maran, Thomas:1
1:University of Innsbruck (Austria)

Latent Inhibition (LI) is a phenomenon that reflects an outcome from the processing of irrelevant stimuli and has been shown to be a state-like learning deficit in psychiatric disorders. Despite the importance of this topic no studies to date explored the influence of affective states on LI. To examine the effects of arousal and valence on LI we assessed LI using the LIrr-Task in a sample of n=92 healthy subjects, randomly assigned to three affect conditions (high negative, high positive, low arousal). Our results show intact LI in the control condition, whereas highly aroused subjects showed abolished LI, regardless of valence. We conclude that stressful states lead to attentional perseveration within a given task set and thereby disrupt learning from predictive, but currently irrelevant cues. These findings elucidate the role of affective states in modulating associative learning processes and rigid cognitive style in stress-related disorders.
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