Jimmy Yin L&S Sciences
Investigating the Effects of Trait Anxiety Vulnerability on Fear Association to Compound Stimuli
With a prevalence of about 18% of the American adult population, anxiety disorders are an increasingly important focus of mental health research. Such disorders can severely diminish the quality of an individuals daily life. In both the animal and human literature, fear conditioning has provided an important model of the abnormal development of learned fear responses associated with anxiety disorders. One important question has been whether anxiety is characterized by greater generalization of fear responses. This is typically examined by testing stimuli that vary along some dimension in similarity from a conditioned stimulus. In my study, I ask whether anxious individuals show a differential tendency to condition to the parts versus the whole of compound stimuli. This research expands upon current studies of conditioned fear in individuals with elevated trait vulnerability to anxiety, and has significant implications for advancing our understanding, and potentially the treatment, of anxiety disorders.