A randomized controlled trial of the effect of D-cycloserine on extinction and fear conditioning in humans

School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.
Behaviour Research and Therapy (Impact Factor: 3.85). 05/2007; 45(4):663-72. DOI: 10.1016/j.brat.2006.07.005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Previous research has shown that D-cycloserine (DCS) facilitates extinction of Pavlovian fear conditioning in rats and enhances exposure therapy in humans. The aim of this study was to test the effect of DCS on extinction of fear conditioning in humans. In three experiments, 238 participants were given either DCS (50 or 500 mg) or placebo 2-3 h before extinction training following a differential shock conditioning paradigm. Clear extinction and recovery (return of fear) effects were observed on both skin conductance and self-reported shock expectancy measures in three studies. DCS had no influence on these effects. The same pattern was observed when the analysis was restricted to aware participants or to good conditioners, when fear-relevant cues (pictures of snakes) were used as the conditioned stimuli, or when analysis was restricted to heightened snake-fearful participants. These results suggest that DCS may not enhance the extinction, or prevent the recovery, of learned fear in a differential Pavlovian conditioning paradigm in humans. Further experimental research is needed to better understand the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of DCS.

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