This symposium addresses the role of aversive conditioning and multisensory associative learning for perception and (emotional) memory in healthy humans, including translational implications.

Keil et al. (Gainesville, USA) show how changes in sensory visuocortical tuning depend on experience. Measuring dense-array EEG and pupillometry, visuocortical responses were selectively sharpened when low-level features (e.g., orientation) had been associated with an aversive outcome whereas using higher-level features (object category) resulted in generalization (in line with top-down control).

Wang et al. (Glasgow/Birmingham, UK) present empirical studies and data from computational modelling. They provide causal evidence that neural synchronization in theta- and gamma-frequencies accounts for formation of visuo-auditory associative memory in declarative-memory tasks.

Plog et al. (Osnabrück) extend this research to (implicit) fear conditioning: Visual conditioned stimuli (CS) and aversive noise (unconditioned stimulus, US) were presented in 4-Hz modulation, phase-synchronized vs. out-of-phase. Phase-synchronization improved CS-US contingency-knowledge and affective stimulus-evaluation, but not steady-state-visually-evoked potentials and skin-conductance responses (SCRs).

Fear-recall and poor extinction-recall characterize anxiety disorders.

To identify conditions improving extinction-recall, Bierwirth et al. (Osnabrück) compared extinction learning immediately after fear-acquisition with 24-h-delayed extinction on fear- and extinction-recall. As expected, delayed-extinction resulted in better extinction-recall in SCRs. EEG (source-localized theta and gamma oscillations) and cardiac responses are currently analyzed.

Sperl et al. (Marburg) examined effects of the noradrenergic alpha-2 adrenoreceptor-antagonist yohimbine, D2-receptor antagonist sulpiride and placebo on long-term fear conditioning and extinction. Yohimbine enhanced fear-recall with potentiated fear bradycardia and larger amplitudes of N170 and LPP ERP-components, elucidating a key role of noradrenaline in strengthening conditioned fear.

Zeitfenster der Veranstaltung (1)

From (epi)genetics to cognition

Chair(s): Ursula Stockhorst (Osnabrück), Andreas Keil (Gainesville, Florida, USA)

Presenter(s): Andreas Keil (Gainesville, Florida, USA), Danying Wang (Glasgow, UK; Birmingham, UK), Elena Plog (Osnabrück), Philipp Bierwirth (Osnabrück), Matthias F. J. Sperl (Marburg; Giessen)