Article

Test–Retest Reliability during Fear Acquisition and Fear Extinction in Humans

Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Research Service, Manchester, New Hampshire, UK
CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics (Impact Factor: 3.78). 02/2011; 18(4):313 - 317. DOI: 10.1111/j.1755-5949.2011.00238.x

ABSTRACT Aims: Classical fear conditioning and extinction has been used to understand the neurobiology of fear learning and its inhibition. The recall of an extinction memory involves the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, and patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been shown to exhibit deficits in this process. Furthermore, extinction forms the basis of exposure therapies commonly used to treat PTSD patients. It is possible that effective pharmacological and/or psychological treatment regimens could influence the activity of these regions, and thereby increase the ability to retain an extinction memory. However, to test this, a fear conditioning and extinction paradigm must demonstrate within-subject reproducibility over time. We, therefore, sought to test the within-subject reliability of a previously used 2-day, classical fear conditioning and extinction paradigm. Methods: Eighteen healthy participants participated in a 2-day paradigm on three occasions, each separated by at least 12 weeks. Conditioning and extinction took place on Day 1, and extinction recall and fear renewal were evaluated on Day 2 on each of the three occasions. The conditioned stimulus was a visual cue and the unconditioned stimulus was a mild electric shock to the fingers. Skin conductance was recorded throughout the experiment to measure conditioned responses. Results: We found that conditioning and extinction recall were not significantly different across time and were correlated within subjects. Conclusion: These data illustrate the reliability of this paradigm and its potential usefulness in evaluating the influence of a given treatment on the fear extinction network in longitudinal within-subject designs.

1 Follower
 · 
94 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Fear conditioning and extinction have been implicated in the pathogenesis of anxiety disorders. However, due to ethical and methodological limitations, few studies have examined these learning processes across development, particularly among anxious individuals. The present study examined differences in fear conditioning and extinction in anxious and nonanxious youth and adults using a novel task designed to be more tolerable for children than existing paradigms. Twenty-two anxious adults, 15 anxious youth, 30 healthy adults, and 17 healthy youth completed two discriminative fear-conditioning tasks. A well-validated task paired a woman's fearful face with a scream as the unconditioned stimulus. The novel task paired a bell with an aversive alarm as the unconditioned stimulus. Self-reported fear, skin conductance response, and fear-potentiated startle eye blink were measured. Both tasks were well tolerated and elicited fear responses with moderate stability. Anxious youth and adults reported overall greater fear than healthy participants during the tasks, although no group differences occurred in discriminative fear conditioning or extinction, as assessed by self-report or physiology. The novel bell-conditioning task is potent in eliciting fear responses but tolerable for pediatric and anxious populations. Our findings are consistent with prior studies that have shown comparable fear learning processes in anxious and nonanxious youth, but dissimilar from studies exhibiting between-group differences in extinction. Given the limited research on fear conditioning in youth, methodological issues and suggestions for future work are discussed. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Depression and Anxiety 04/2015; 32(4). DOI:10.1002/da.22318 · 4.29 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Exposure-based treatments for clinical anxiety generally are very effective, but relapse is not uncommon. Likewise, laboratory studies have shown that conditioned fears are easy to extinguish, but they recover easily. This analogy is striking, and numerous fear extinction studies have been published that highlight the processes responsible for the extinction and return of acquired fears. This review examines and integrates the most important results from animal and human work. Overall, the results suggest that fear extinction is relatively easy to "learn" but difficult to "remember." It follows that treatments will benefit from an enhanced focus on the long-term retrieval of fear extinction. We review the available studies on the prevention of return of fear and the prospects of weakening fear memories forever. We show that the behavioral principles outlined in learning theory provide a continuous inspiration for preclinical (neurobiological) and clinical research on the extinction and return of fear.
    Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 03/2013; 9:215-48. DOI:10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-050212-185542 · 12.92 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorders, affecting as many as 10% of youth, with diagnoses peaking during adolescence. A core component of these disorders is an unremitting fear in the absence of present threat. One of the most commonly used therapies to treat these disorders is exposure‐based cognitive behavioral therapy that identifies the source of the fear and anxiety and then desensitizes the individual to it. This treatment builds on basic principles of fear‐extinction learning. A number of patients improve with this therapy, but 40–50% do not. This paper provides an overview of recent empirical studies employing both human imaging and cross‐species behavioral genetics to examine how fear regulation varies across individuals and across development, especially during adolescence. These studies have important implications for understanding who may be at risk for anxiety disorders and for whom and when during development exposure‐based therapies may be most effective.
    Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 01/2013; 1304(1). DOI:10.1111/nyas.12287 · 4.31 Impact Factor

Full-text

Download
15 Downloads
Available from
May 17, 2014