Conditioning in psychopathology: new developments (20-21 May 2021)
EPP Symposium 137

Conditioning research has a long-standing tradition both in psychological science in general and in experimental psychopathology specifically. Today, “compromised learning” has been put forward as an explanation for the development and maintenance of a wide range of psychopathologies. Yet conditioning is still a hot topic, and new discoveries continue to emerge.

In this symposium, both theoretical and methodological innovations will be covered, in an attempt to go beyond the typical associative learning account on classical (fear) conditioning.

We aim to address more recent propositional and goal-directed accounts on fear conditioning, broaden the scope to operant and evaluative learning, and critically reviewing the validity of extinction as a treatment model for anxiety disorders. Besides fear and anxiety, we will focus on the relevance of conditioning models for different psychopathologies, e.g. disgust in sexual disorders, and placebo/nocebo conditioning in pain, itch or hormones. Special attention will be paid to implications of these findings in behavioral therapy.

May 20 – 21, 2021

Online meeting

Ann Meulders (UM, KU Leuven), Charmaine Borg (RUG), Fabian Wolters (LU)

Thursday May 20th


Day 1


10.30 – 11.00 Welcome and ‘walk-in’ – coffee/tea
11.00 – 12.00 Introduction to associative, propositional and goal-directed approaches to fear conditioning (Yannick Boddez, UGent)
12.00 – 13.00 Lunch break
13.00 – 14.00


PhD Talks
1.       Irina Masselman: The unconscious road to alleviating body image concerns: A novel evaluative conditioning approach using continuous flash suppression
2.       Inka Papenfuss: Accepting the unknown: Uncertainty-related processes as mediators for the effect of mindfulness on anxiety 
14.00 – 14.15 Short break – coffee/tea
14.15 – 15.15 The learning body and mind: Conditioning of placebo and nocebo effects (Andrea Evers, Leiden University & Aleksandrina Skvortsova, McGill University
15.15 – 15.30 Change to comfortable clothes and get ready for something great! Make sure you have a yoga mat or large towel/blanket
15.30 – 16.30 Yoga with Marta Walentynowicz (click for more info)
16.30 – 16.45 Roll up your mat and freshen up
16.45 – 17.45 An inhibitory learning approach to extinction and its implications for exposure therapy (Michelle Craske, UCLA)
17.45 – 18.00 Closing day 1 of the symposium

Friday May 21st



Day 2


09.00 – 09.45 Conditioning in sexual dysfunction: psychophysiological studies on sexual reward learning (Stephanie Both, LUMC)
09.45 – 10.00 Short break – coffee/tea
10.00 – 11.00


PhD Talks
3.       Anke Lemmens: Better safe than sorry: New ways to investigate the maintenance and generalization of avoidance behaviors
4.       Lauranne Vanaken: Coherence Connects: On the Social Function of Coherent Autobiographical Memories
11.00 – 11.15 Short break – coffee/tea
11.15 – 12.15 Beyond fear of pain, operant conditioning of pain-related avoidance behavior and its relevance for chronic pain (Ann Meulders, KU Leuven & UM)
12.15 – 13.15 Lunch break
13.15 – 14.15 Learning through play: How to test the relevance of conditioning models for psychopathology? (Yannick Boddez, UGent)
14.15 – 14.30 Closing comments and end of symposium