How instructions, expectations, and conditioning influence pain and aversive learning


February 7, 2018 - 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Northwest Building, Room 243
About the Speaker
Lauren Atlas
Speaker Title: 
Chief, Section on Affective Neuroscience and Pain
Speaker Affiliation: 

In this talk I will present recent work examining how instructions, expectations, and associative learning jointly influence pain and aversive learning. In a series of experiments, we combined experimental manipulations with computational models to isolate the influences of these factors on subjective pain, aversive learning, and physiological responses. We found that instructions and associative learning were supported by both interactions and dissociations in neural pathways, and that they influenced both subjective and physiological responses to noxious stimuli. More recent work indicates that individual differences in state anxiety may moderate these effects. I will discuss the clinical implications of these findings, as well as broader conclusions about how cognitive factors shape perception, including subjective outcomes such as pain.