Resistance to extinction of a motor avoidance response and its relation to event related slow potentials of the brain

B. Rockstroh, T. Elbert, W. Lutzenberger, N. Birbaumer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Fourteen experimental subjects learned to perform two different motor responses (horizontal eye movement and forearm muscle twitch) in response to two different signal tones (S(D) as avoidance responses: they had to avoid an aversive noise for matched experimental partners by performing the required response within one second (S(D)-interval). The fourteen partners learned the same motor responses, but without avoidance function. Both groups were compared with respect to the resistance to extinction of these motor responses. Resistance to extinction was tested by the number of responses (identical to the formerly learned) spontaneously performed under different stressful conditions five weeks after the learning session. A significantly higher frequency of horizontal eye movements and muscle twitches by experimental subjects compared to partners during this test period documents resistance to extinction of motor avoidance responses compared to responses learned without avoidance function. This resistance to extinction was significantly related to specific sequence of brain potentials: a strong negative shift preceding the S(D) and a relative positive shift (i.e. reduced negativity) after performance of the avoidance responses observed during extinction trials could predict to a high degree the resistance to extinction observed five weeks later.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-201
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioural Analysis and Modification
Volume3
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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