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Impaired generalization of reward but not loss in obsessive-compulsive disorder

Rouhani, N; Wimmer, GE; Schneier, FR; Fyer, AJ; Shohamy, D; Simpson, HB; (2019) Impaired generalization of reward but not loss in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Depression & Anxiety , 36 (2) pp. 121-129. 10.1002/da.22857. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Generalizing from past experiences can be adaptive by allowing those experiences to guide behavior in new situations. Generalizing too much, however, can be maladaptive. For example, individuals with pathological anxiety are believed to overgeneralize emotional responses from past threats, broadening their scope of fears. Whether individuals with pathological anxiety overgeneralize in other situations remains unclear. METHODS: The present study (N = 57) used a monetary sensory preconditioning paradigm with rewards and losses to address this question in individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD), comparing them to healthy comparison subjects (HC). In all groups, we tested direct learning of associations between cues and reward vs. loss outcomes, as well as generalization of learning to novel choice options. RESULTS: We found no differences between the three groups in the direct learning of stimuli with their outcomes: all subjects demonstrated intact stimulus-response learning by choosing rewarding options and avoiding negative ones. However, OCD subjects were less likely to generalize from rewards than either the SAD or HC groups, and this impairment was not found for losses. Additionally, greater deficits in reward generalization were correlated with severity of threat estimation, as measured by a subscale of the Obsessive Beliefs Questionnaire, both within OCD and across all groups. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that a compromised ability to generalize from rewarding events may impede adaptive behavior in OCD and in those susceptible to high estimation of threat.

Type: Article
Title: Impaired generalization of reward but not loss in obsessive-compulsive disorder
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/da.22857
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22857
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: cognition, decision-making, reinforcement learning, reward generalization, sensory preconditioning, Adolescent, Adult, Anxiety, Case-Control Studies, Cognition, Cues, Fear, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Phobia, Social, Reward, Surveys and Questionnaires, Young Adult
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10075112
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