The role of intolerance of uncertainty in the acquisition and extinction of reward

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Individuals, who score high in self-reported intolerance of uncertainty (IU), tend to find uncertainty anxiety-provoking. IU has been reliably associated with disrupted threat extinction. However, it is unclear whether IU would be related to disrupted extinction to other arousing stimuli that are not threatening (i.e., rewarding). We addressed this question by conducting a Pavlovian reward conditioning task with acquisition and extinction training phases (n = 58). In the Pavlovian reward conditioning task, we recorded liking ratings, skin conductance response (SCR), and corrugator supercilii activity (i.e., brow muscle indicative or negative and positive affect) to learned reward (CS+) and neutral (CS−) cues. Typical patterns of reward acquisition and extinction training were observed for liking ratings. There was evidence for conditioning in SCR during the extinction training phase but not the acquisition training phase. However, no evidence of conditioning in either the acquisition or extinction training phase was observed for the corrugator supercilii. IU was not related to any measures during the acquisition or extinction training phases. Taken together, these results suggest that the current Pavlovian reward conditioning task was not sufficient for eliciting a reliable conditioned reward response, and therefore, further research with optimized reward conditioning designs are required to test whether IU-related deficits occur during the extinction of reward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3063-3071
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by (1) a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (27567) and an ESRC New Investigator Grant (ES/R01145/1) awarded to Jayne Morriss.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. European Journal of Neuroscience published by Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd


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