Skip to main content

A pilot study of the monetary incentive delay task with an aversive event: effects on anxiety

Friday, September 18, 2015 — Poster Session IV

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
FAES Terrace

* FARE Award Winner


  • JL Gowin
  • R Momenan
  • K Mathur
  • M Ernst
  • VA Ramchandani


Alcohol abuse and related problems are responsible for 4 % of deaths worldwide. One of the primary motives for escalation of drinking is stress relief, and alcohol-related neuroadaptations in brain reward and stress systems may contribute to alcohol use disorder (AUD). One mechanism by which stress may contribute to drinking is altered neural processing of aversive stimuli in susceptible individuals. This study aims to develop a novel variation of the well-established monetary incentive delay task that focuses on aversive processing in the context of reward. Participants see cues signaling monetary wins or losses, and have to perform the task under a safe context and an aversive context, where they are at risk for hearing a loud scream and seeing a fearful face, which is a well-validated aversive stimulus. 7 healthy adults participated in a pilot task validation study. They completed a brief version of the State-Trait Anxiety Index before and after the task. They also rated each of the cues in the task to assess how happy or nervous when viewing the stimuli. Results indicated that participants were less comfortable after the task. They were happiest when seeing the cue indicating they could earn money. They were most nervous when they saw cues indicating they could lose money and may hear the scream. These behavioral results indicate that this task has face validity. Current plans include conducting a functional MRI scan to examine the neural correlates of processing aversive stimuli in controls and individuals at risk for AUDs.

Category: Social and Behavioral Sciences