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Psychophysiological modelling and the measurement of fear conditioning

Bach, DR; Melinscak, F; (2020) Psychophysiological modelling and the measurement of fear conditioning. Behaviour Research and Therapy , 127 , Article 103576. 10.1016/j.brat.2020.103576. Green open access

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Abstract

Quantification of fear conditioning is paramount to many clinical and translational studies on aversive learning. Various measures of fear conditioning co-exist, including different observables and different methods of pre-processing. Here, we first argue that low measurement error is a rational desideratum for any measurement technique. We then show that measurement error can be approximated in benchmark experiments by how closely intended fear memory relates to measured fear memory, a quantity that we term retrodictive validity. From this perspective, we discuss different approaches commonly used to quantify fear conditioning. One of these is psychophysiological modelling (PsPM). This builds on a measurement model that describes how a psychological variable, such as fear memory, influences a physiological measure. This model is statistically inverted to estimate the most likely value of the psychological variable, given the measured data. We review existing PsPMs for skin conductance, pupil size, heart period, respiration, and startle eye-blink. We illustrate the benefit of PsPMs in terms of retrodictive validity and translate this into sample size required to achieve a desired level of statistical power. This sample size can differ up to a factor of three between different observables, and between the best, and the current standard, data pre-processing methods.

Type: Article
Title: Psychophysiological modelling and the measurement of fear conditioning
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.brat.2020.103576
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2020.103576
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY/4.0/).
Keywords: Anxiety disorder, Aversive learning, Reconsolidation, Retrodictive validity, Return of fear, Threat conditioning
UCL classification: UCL
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/10092651
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