Extinction in Human Fear Conditioning

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Biological Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 10.25). 09/2006; 60(4):361-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.10.006
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although most extinction research is conducted in animal laboratories, the study of extinction learning in human fear conditioning has gained increasing attention over the last decade. The most important findings from human fear extinction are reviewed in this article. Specifically, we review experimental investigations of the impact of conditioned inhibitors, conditioned exciters, context renewal, and reinstatement on fear extinction in human samples. We discuss data from laboratory studies of the extinction of aversively conditioned stimuli, as well as results from experimental clinical work with fearful or anxious individuals. We present directions for future research, in particular the need for further investigation of differences between animal and human conditioning outcomes, and research examining the role of both automatic and higher-order cognitive processes in human conditioning and extinction.

    • "This study examines aspects of emotional memory, sleep timing and quality and trait anxiety that, in currently healthy individuals , could potentially interact in such a way as to lead to pathological anxiety. An emotional memory that is of particular importance to regulating normal anxiety is the extinction of conditioned fear, or learning that something that once signaled danger no longer does so (Hermans et al., 2006). For example, exposure therapy for anxiety disorders is based on the formation of therapeutic extinction memories (Craske et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Poor ability to remember the extinction of conditioned fear, elevated trait anxiety, and delayed or disrupted nocturnal sleep are reported in anxiety disorders. The current study examines the interrelationship of these factors in healthy young-adult males. Skin-conductance response was conditioned to two differently colored lamps. One color but not the other was then extinguished. After varying delays, both colors were presented to determine extinction recall and generalization. Questionnaires measured sleep quality, morningness-eveningness, neuroticism and trait anxiety. A subset produced a mean 7.0 nights of actigraphy and sleep diaries. Median split of mean sleep midpoint defined early- and late-"sleep timers". Extinction was more rapidly learned in the morning than evening only in early timers who also better generalized extinction recall. Extinction recall was greater with higher sleep efficiency. Sleep efficiency and morningness were negatively associated with neuroticism and anxiety. However, neuroticism and anxiety did not predict extinction learning, recall or generalization. Therefore, neuroticism/anxiety and deficient fear extinction, although both associated with poor quality and late timing of sleep, are not directly associated with each other. Elevated trait anxiety, in addition to predisposing directly to anxiety disorders, may thus also indirectly promote such disorders by impairing sleep and, consequently, extinction memory. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
    06/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2015.05.069
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    • "After conditioning, the CS comes to elicit conditioned fear responses ( " CRs " ), such as freezing behavior in rats (Bolles 1970; Fanselow 1980, 1994; Sigmundi et al. 1980; Hagenaars et al. 2014). After repeated presentations of the CS alone, the magnitude and frequency of the CR is diminished, a process termed extinction (Pavlov 1927; Konorski 1948; Lolordo and Rescorla 1966; Rescorla 2001; Bouton 2004; Hermans et al. 2006; Chang et al. 2009; Fitzgerald et al. 2014; also see Jones et al. 2013). Standard extinction procedures do not erase the original fear memory; rather extinction represents a new form of learning that inhibits conditioned responding to the aversive CS (Konorski 1967; Bouton 1993; Falls 1998; Maren 2011; also see Myers et al. 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Aversive events can trigger relapse of extinguished fear memories, presenting a major challenge to the long-term efficacy of therapeutic interventions. Here, we examined factors regulating the relapse of extinguished fear after exposure of rats to a dangerous context. Rats received unsignaled shock in a distinct context ("dangerous" context) 24 h prior to auditory fear conditioning in another context. Fear to the auditory conditioned stimulus (CS) was subsequently extinguished either in the conditioning context ("ambiguous" context) or in a third novel context ("safe" context). Exposure to the dangerous context 30 min before a CS retention test caused relapse to the CS in the ambiguous and safe test contexts relative to nonextinguished controls. When rats were tested 24 h later (with or without short-term testing), rats tested in the ambiguous context continued to exhibit relapse, whereas rats tested in the safe context did not. Additionally, exposure of rats to the conditioning context-in place of the unsignaled shock context-did not result in relapse of fear to the CS in the safe testing context. Our work highlights the vulnerabilities of extinction recall to interference, and demonstrates the importance of context associations in the relapse of fear after extinction. © 2015 Goode et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.
    Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.) 03/2015; 22(3):170-8. DOI:10.1101/lm.037028.114 · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    • "many times without the aversive footshock . Context fear associated with the US can also be extinguished by placing the subject in the conditioned context in the absence of any aversive US ( refer to Maren et al . 2013 ) . As a result , animals learn that the CS ( or context ) no longer predicts the aversive US ( Bouton 2004 ; Chang et al . 2009 ; Hermans et al . 2006 ; Lolordo and Rescorla 1966 ; Pavlov 1927 ) , thereby reducing conditioned fear . Extinction has been shown to engage distinct neural circuits that act on and interact with the neural circuits involved in conditioning ( Courtin et al . 2014 ; Herry et al . 2010 ; Maren 2011 ; Milad et al . 2006b ; Myers and Davis 2002 ; Orsini et al . 2"
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    ABSTRACT: Whereas fear memories are rapidly acquired and enduring over time, extinction memories are slow to form and are susceptible to disruption. Consequently, behavioral therapies that involve extinction learning (e.g., exposure therapy) often produce only temporary suppression of fear and anxiety. This review focuses on the factors that are known to influence the relapse of extinguished fear. Several phenomena associated with the return of fear after extinction are discussed, including renewal, spontaneous recovery, reacquisition, and reinstatement. Additionally, this review describes recent work, which has focused on the role of psychological stress in the relapse of extinguished fear. Recent developments in behavioral and pharmacological research are examined in light of treatment of pathological fear in humans.
    ILAR journal / National Research Council, Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources 09/2014; 55(2):246-258. DOI:10.1093/ilar/ilu008 · 1.05 Impact Factor
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