Poster B16, Sunday, March 25, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Temporal dissociation in how stress enhances subjective valuation in the presence versus absence of explicit temptation
Nidhi Banavar1, Candace Raio1, Anna Konova1, Paul Glimcher1; 1New York University
Stress and craving are well-established drivers of reward-seeking behavior in health and psychopathology. Despite this, we still lack a basic empirical characterization of how these states affect reward valuation to bias behavior. Here, we developed an economic decision-making task designed to capture dynamic changes in subjective value (SV) for food rewards over time. Specifically, after a baseline period and before returning to the SV task, healthy non-dieters either underwent an acute stress induction (Cold-Pressor Test; 'Stress'), this same stress test paired with craving induction (brief multi-sensory food exposure; 'Stress+Craving'), or control procedures ('Control'). Results revealed an increase relative to baseline in the SV of food rewards in both the 'Stress' and 'Stress+Craving' groups compared to 'Control'. Interestingly, this increase peaked at different times: peak SV was observed immediately after induction in the 'Stress+Craving' group (+10 minutes), while peak SV was observed with delay in the 'Stress' group (+60 minutes). Individual differences in self-reported craving experience and perceived stress mirrored these distinct temporal profiles, suggesting that these SV changes might underlie the psychological experience of craving and stress, respectively. Additionally, for the 'Stress' group, effects were enhanced for foods rated as most desirable prior to the study suggesting that, in the absence of explicit cue-exposure (as in 'Stress+Craving'), an individual’s reward history guides the degree to which stress increases reward-seeking. Our results provide important insights into the mechanisms by which stress exposure and cue-induced craving influence SV and highlight differences in when individuals may be most susceptible to maladaptive choice behavior.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions