Impact of healthy aging on awareness and fear conditioning.


Journal Article

Fear conditioning has provided a useful model system for studying associative emotional learning, but the impact of healthy aging has gone relatively unexplored. The present study investigated fear conditioning across the adult life span in humans. A delay discrimination task was employed using visual conditioned stimuli and an auditory unconditioned stimulus. Awareness of the reinforcement contingencies was assessed in a postexperimental interview. Compared with young adult participants, middle-aged and older adults displayed reductions in unconditioned responding, discriminant conditioning, and contingency awareness. When awareness and overall arousability were taken into consideration, there were no residual effects of aging on conditioning. These results highlight the importance of considering the influence of declarative knowledge when interpreting age-associated changes in discriminative conditioned learning.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Labar, KS; Cook, CA; Torpey, DC; Welsh-Bohmer, KA

Published Date

  • October 2004

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 118 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 905 - 915

PubMed ID

  • 15506873

Pubmed Central ID

  • 15506873

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0735-7044

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/0735-7044.118.5.905


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States