The current study examined developmental changes in fear learning and generalization in 54 healthy 5-10-year old children using a novel fear conditioning paradigm. In this task, the conditioned stimuli (CS+/CS-) were two blue and yellow colored cartoon bells, and the unconditioned stimulus was an unpleasant loud alarm sound presented with a red cartoon bell. Physiological and subjective data were acquired. Three weeks after conditioning, 48 of these participants viewed the CS-, CS+, and morphed images resembling the CS+. Participants made threat-safety discriminations while appraising threat and remembering the CS+. Although no age-related differences in fear learning emerged, patterns of generalization were qualified by child age. Older children demonstrated better discrimination between the CS+ and CS morphs than younger age groups and also reported more fear to stimuli resembling the CS+ than younger children. Clinical implications and future directions are discussed.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2016 .
- Aversive conditioning
- Extinction recall
- Fear generalization
- Fear learning
- Skin conductance
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology