Reward prospect improves inhibitory control in female university students with a history of childhood sexual and physical abuse

Meltem Kiyar, Miriam J. J. Lommen, Ruth M. Krebs, Judith K. Daniels, Sven C. Mueller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Background and objectives Childhood abuse and neglect increase the risk for psychiatric disorders (e.g., depression and anxiety) during adulthood and have been associated with deficits in cognitive control. The specific mechanisms underlying these cognitive control deficits are still unknown. Methods This study examined the expectation for reward to improve inhibitory control in young women (ages 18–35 years) with a history of childhood sexual and/or physical abuse (AG, N = 28), childhood emotional and/or physical neglect (NG, N = 30), or unaffected comparison women (HC, N = 40). They completed a previously validated rewarded (color-word) Stroop task and filled out questionnaires on depression, anxiety, and resilience. Results Surprisingly, a significant group by reward interaction revealed larger performance benefits under reward prospect (relative to no-reward) for the AG group relative to both the NG and HC groups. Limitations A small sample size limiting generalizability. Conclusions These results demonstrate sensitivity of abused subjects to reward in modulating cognitive control and might aid in discussing whether using reward schedules during therapeutic interventions could be effective.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101629
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Early online date7-Nov-2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2021


  • Abuse
  • Maltreatment
  • Neglect
  • RDoC
  • Cognitive control
  • Reward

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