DOI: 10.1101/472050Nov 17, 2018Paper

The effects of the angiotensin II receptor antagonist losartan on appetitive versus aversive learning

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Erdem PulcuAndrea Reinecke


Exposure therapy is a first-line treatment for anxiety disorders but remains ineffective in a large proportion of patients. A proposed mechanism of exposure involves a form of inhibitory learning where the association between a stimulus and an aversive outcome is suppressed by a new association with an appetitive or neutral outcome. The blood pressure medication losartan augments fear extinction in rodents and might have similar synergistic effects on human exposure therapy, but the exact cognitive mechanisms underlying these effects remain unknown. In this study, we used a reinforcement learning paradigm with compound rewards and punishments to test the prediction that losartan augments learning from appetitive relative to aversive outcomes. Healthy volunteers (N=53) were randomly assigned to single-dose losartan (50mg) versus placebo. Participants then performed a reinforcement learning task which simultaneously probes appetitive and aversive learning. Participant choice behaviour was analysed using both a standard reinforcement learning model and by analysis of choice switching behaviour. Losartan significantly reduced learning rates from aversive events (losses) when participants were first exposed to the novel task environ...Continue Reading

Related Concepts

Receptor, Angiotensin II
Anxiety Disorders
Metabolic Inhibition
Psychological Reinforcement

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