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Spontaneous eye movements and trait empathy predict vicarious learning of fear.

Kleberg, Johan L; Selbing, Ida; Lundqvist, Daniel; Hofvander, Björn LU and Olsson, Andreas (2015) In International Journal of Psychophysiology 98(3). p.577-583
Abstract
Learning to predict dangerous outcomes is important to survival. In humans, this kind of learning is often transmitted through the observation of others' emotional responses. We analyzed eye movements during an observational/vicarious fear learning procedure, in which healthy participants (N=33) watched another individual ('learning model') receiving aversive treatment (shocks) paired with a predictive conditioned stimulus (CS+), but not a control stimulus (CS-). Participants' gaze pattern towards the model differentiated as a function of whether the CS was predictive or not of a shock to the model. Consistent with our hypothesis that the face of a conspecific in distress can act as an unconditioned stimulus (US), we found that the total... (More)
Learning to predict dangerous outcomes is important to survival. In humans, this kind of learning is often transmitted through the observation of others' emotional responses. We analyzed eye movements during an observational/vicarious fear learning procedure, in which healthy participants (N=33) watched another individual ('learning model') receiving aversive treatment (shocks) paired with a predictive conditioned stimulus (CS+), but not a control stimulus (CS-). Participants' gaze pattern towards the model differentiated as a function of whether the CS was predictive or not of a shock to the model. Consistent with our hypothesis that the face of a conspecific in distress can act as an unconditioned stimulus (US), we found that the total fixation time at a learning model's face increased when the CS+ was shown. Furthermore, we found that the total fixation time at the CS+ during learning predicted participants' conditioned responses (CRs) at a later test in the absence of the model. We also demonstrated that trait empathy was associated with stronger CRs, and that autistic traits were positively related to autonomic reactions to watching the model receiving the aversive treatment. Our results have implications for both healthy and dysfunctional socio-emotional learning. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
International Journal of Psychophysiology
volume
98
issue
3
pages
577 - 583
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • pmid:25872010
  • wos:000367493700011
  • scopus:84949528913
ISSN
0167-8760
DOI
10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.04.001
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a90bff64-c479-4377-abf3-5416d1278bcb (old id 5341915)
alternative location
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25872010?dopt=Abstract
date added to LUP
2015-05-05 20:11:45
date last changed
2017-07-09 03:24:20
@article{a90bff64-c479-4377-abf3-5416d1278bcb,
  abstract     = {Learning to predict dangerous outcomes is important to survival. In humans, this kind of learning is often transmitted through the observation of others' emotional responses. We analyzed eye movements during an observational/vicarious fear learning procedure, in which healthy participants (N=33) watched another individual ('learning model') receiving aversive treatment (shocks) paired with a predictive conditioned stimulus (CS+), but not a control stimulus (CS-). Participants' gaze pattern towards the model differentiated as a function of whether the CS was predictive or not of a shock to the model. Consistent with our hypothesis that the face of a conspecific in distress can act as an unconditioned stimulus (US), we found that the total fixation time at a learning model's face increased when the CS+ was shown. Furthermore, we found that the total fixation time at the CS+ during learning predicted participants' conditioned responses (CRs) at a later test in the absence of the model. We also demonstrated that trait empathy was associated with stronger CRs, and that autistic traits were positively related to autonomic reactions to watching the model receiving the aversive treatment. Our results have implications for both healthy and dysfunctional socio-emotional learning.},
  author       = {Kleberg, Johan L and Selbing, Ida and Lundqvist, Daniel and Hofvander, Björn and Olsson, Andreas},
  issn         = {0167-8760},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {577--583},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {International Journal of Psychophysiology},
  title        = {Spontaneous eye movements and trait empathy predict vicarious learning of fear.},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.04.001},
  volume       = {98},
  year         = {2015},
}