Measuring appetitive conditioned responses in humans (2018)

Physiol Behav. 2018 Feb 9;188:140-150. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.02.004.

Wardle MC1, Lopez-Gamundi P2, Flagel SB3.


Clinical and preclinical findings suggest that individuals with abnormal responses to reward cues (stimuli associated with reward) may be at risk for maladaptive behaviors including obesity, addiction and depression. Our objective was to develop a new paradigm for producing appetitive conditioning using primary (food) rewards in humans, and investigate the equivalency of several outcomes previously used to measure appetitive responses to conditioned cues. We used an individualized food reward, and multimodal subjective, psychophysiological and behavioral measures of appetitive responses to a conditioned stimulus (CS) that predicted delivery of that food. We tested convergence among these measures of appetitive response, and relationships between these measures and action impulsivity, a putative correlate of appetitive conditioning. 90 healthy young adults participated. Although the paradigm produced robust appetitive conditioning in some measures, particularly psychophysiological ones, there were not strong correlations among measures of appetitive responses to the CS, as would be expected if they indexed a single underlying process. In addition, there was only one measure that related to impulsivity. These results provide important information for translational researchers interested in appetitive conditioning, suggesting that various measures of appetitive conditioning cannot be treated interchangeably.

KEYWORDS: Appetitive conditioning, translational research; Human subjects; Psychophysiology

PMID: 29408238

DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.02.004