The Impact of Stress and Impulsivity on Pavlovian Instrumental Transfer in Humans

Tang, Ruoqi (2023) The Impact of Stress and Impulsivity on Pavlovian Instrumental Transfer in Humans. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Pavlovian instrumental transfer (PIT) is a phenomenon thought to underlie the maintenance of addictive behaviours, in which a conditioned stimulus (CS), previously paired with a specific outcome, can influence the performance of an instrumental response (R). PIT can be specific (the CS selectively elevates the performance of an R paired with the same outcome) and general (CSs elevate the performance of any R paired with an outcome of the same motivational value). To study both specific and general PIT effects, an avoidance-based and an appetitive PIT task were conducted in Chapter II. Both effects were observed successfully in the two types of PIT tasks.

As exposure to stressors has been considered a risk factor for relapsing in addiction, in Chapter III, the novel avoidance-based PIT task in Chapter II was applied to explore the relationship between anxiety and specific or general PIT effects. To measure anxiety/stress, personality scales, and mood induction procedures (online: using heavy metal music and unpleasant pictures; in-person: using a procedure in which participants were told they had to give a speech) were applied. In all experiments, specific or general effects showed a non-significant relationship with anxiety or stress levels. These results did not support the suggestion that stress or anxiety can affect PIT. This may be because the variability of the anxiety level was limited, and the mood induction procedures did not work to their maximum effect in changing the anxiety levels.

In addition, impulsivity is a personality trait that plays an important role in various types of addiction. It has been proposed that individuals with high impulsivity levels keep consuming rewards even if they are satisfied, which results in addiction; this may be because they are insensitive to the devaluation of rewards. Therefore, in Chapter IV, the novel appetitive task conducted in Chapter II was used to examine the relationship between impulsivity, PIT effects, and devaluation effects on the PIT effects. In all experiments, the results did not show a correlation between PIT effects and impulsivity levels. Results also showed that devaluation abolished general PIT, diminished Pavlovian- directed devaluation of specific PIT, and left instrumental-directed devaluation of specific PIT intact. Although instrumental-directed outcome devaluation did not influence the magnitude of specific PIT, it was negatively correlated to negative urgency. These results did not support the hypothesis that impulsivity correlated to PIT.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Bonardi, Charlotte
Keywords: Pavlovian instrumental transfer, impulsive behaviour, addictive behaviour
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC 321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 76586
Depositing User: TANG, RUOQI
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2023 15:00
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2023 15:00

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