Context conditioning: Generalization, discrimination, extinction, and the influence of risk factors

Pauli, Wieser

Our established a virtual reality (VR) context conditioning paradigm will be used to first examine processes of contextual generalization, discrimination and extinction assumed to importantly contribute to the development and maintenance of sustained anxiety. Second, we plan to evaluate how these processes are modulated by specific risk factors for anxiety disorders, i.e. high trait anxiety or the BDNF 66Met risk allele. Third, we will examine the hypotheses that particularly contextual anxiety causes general hypervigilance, and finally plan to explore a potentially relevant mechanism for treatment of anxiety, specifically whether it is possible to teach high-anxiety-risk individuals to better discriminate threat and safety contexts, and consequently reduce the generalization of anxiety.

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