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Spontaneous eye movements and trait empathy predict vicarious learning of fear.
Int J Psychophysiol. 2015 Dec; 98(3 Pt 2):577-83.IJ

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.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Uppsala University, Department of Psychology, Uppsala Child and Baby Lab, Sweden; Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Division of Psychology, Sweden.Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Division of Psychology, Sweden.Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Division of Psychology, Sweden.Lund University, Forensic Psychiatry, Department of Clinical Sciences, Malmö, Sweden.Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Division of Psychology, Sweden. Electronic address: andreas.olsson@ki.se.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

25872010

Citation

Kleberg, Johan L., et al. "Spontaneous Eye Movements and Trait Empathy Predict Vicarious Learning of Fear." International Journal of Psychophysiology : Official Journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology, vol. 98, no. 3 Pt 2, 2015, pp. 577-83.
Kleberg JL, Selbing I, Lundqvist D, et al. Spontaneous eye movements and trait empathy predict vicarious learning of fear. Int J Psychophysiol. 2015;98(3 Pt 2):577-83.
Kleberg, J. L., Selbing, I., Lundqvist, D., Hofvander, B., & Olsson, A. (2015). Spontaneous eye movements and trait empathy predict vicarious learning of fear. International Journal of Psychophysiology : Official Journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology, 98(3 Pt 2), 577-83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.04.001
Kleberg JL, et al. Spontaneous Eye Movements and Trait Empathy Predict Vicarious Learning of Fear. Int J Psychophysiol. 2015;98(3 Pt 2):577-83. PubMed PMID: 25872010.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Spontaneous eye movements and trait empathy predict vicarious learning of fear. AU - Kleberg,Johan L, AU - Selbing,Ida, AU - Lundqvist,Daniel, AU - Hofvander,Björn, AU - Olsson,Andreas, Y1 - 2015/04/11/ PY - 2014/08/27/received PY - 2015/03/02/revised PY - 2015/04/08/accepted PY - 2015/4/15/entrez PY - 2015/4/15/pubmed PY - 2016/9/23/medline KW - Autism KW - Empathy KW - Eye movements KW - Fear conditioning KW - Skin conductance KW - Social learning KW - Vicarious fear learning SP - 577 EP - 83 JF - International journal of psychophysiology : official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology JO - Int J Psychophysiol VL - 98 IS - 3 Pt 2 N2 - 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. SN - 1872-7697 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/25872010/Spontaneous_eye_movements_and_trait_empathy_predict_vicarious_learning_of_fear_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0167-8760(15)00149-X DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -