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Sample records for human fear conditioning

  1. Modeling fear-conditioned bradycardia in humans.

    PubMed

    Castegnetti, Giuseppe; Tzovara, Athina; Staib, Matthias; Paulus, Philipp C; Hofer, Nicolas; Bach, Dominik R

    2016-06-01

    Across species, cued fear conditioning is a common experimental paradigm to investigate aversive Pavlovian learning. While fear-conditioned stimuli (CS+) elicit overt behavior in many mammals, this is not the case in humans. Typically, autonomic nervous system activity is used to quantify fear memory in humans, measured by skin conductance responses (SCR). Here, we investigate whether heart period responses (HPR) evoked by the CS, often observed in humans and small mammals, are suitable to complement SCR as an index of fear memory in humans. We analyze four datasets involving delay and trace conditioning, in which heart beats are identified via electrocardiogram or pulse oximetry, to show that fear-conditioned heart rate deceleration (bradycardia) is elicited and robustly distinguishes CS+ from CS-. We then develop a psychophysiological model (PsPM) of fear-conditioned HPR. This PsPM is inverted to yield estimates of autonomic input into the heart. We show that the sensitivity to distinguish CS+ and CS- (predictive validity) is higher for model-based estimates than peak-scoring analysis, and compare this with SCR. Our work provides a novel tool to investigate fear memory in humans that allows direct comparison between species. PMID:26950648

  2. Conditioned Fear Extinction and Reinstatement in a Human Fear-Potentiated Startle Paradigm

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Norrholm, Seth D.; Jovanovic, Tanja; Vervliet, Bram; Myers, Karyn M.; Davis, Michael; Rothbaum, Barbara O.; Duncan, Erica J.

    2006-01-01

    The purpose of this study was to analyze fear extinction and reinstatement in humans using fear-potentiated startle. Participants were fear conditioned using a simple discrimination procedure with colored lights as the conditioned stimuli (CSs) and an airblast to the throat as the unconditioned stimulus (US). Participants were extinguished 24 h…

  3. Extending animal models of fear conditioning to humans.

    PubMed

    Delgado, M R; Olsson, A; Phelps, E A

    2006-07-01

    A goal of fear and anxiety research is to understand how to treat the potentially devastating effects of anxiety disorders in humans. Much of this research utilizes classical fear conditioning, a simple paradigm that has been extensively investigated in animals, helping outline a brain circuitry thought to be responsible for the acquisition, expression and extinction of fear. The findings from non-human animal research have more recently been substantiated and extended in humans, using neuropsychological and neuroimaging methodologies. Research across species concur that the neural correlates of fear conditioning include involvement of the amygdala during all stages of fear learning, and prefrontal areas during the extinction phase. This manuscript reviews how animal models of fear are translated to human behavior, and how some fears are more easily acquired in humans (i.e., social-cultural). Finally, using the knowledge provided by a rich animal literature, we attempt to extend these findings to human models targeted to helping facilitate extinction or abolishment of fears, a trademark of anxiety disorders, by discussing efficacy in modulating the brain circuitry involved in fear conditioning via pharmacological treatments or emotion regulation cognitive strategies. PMID:16472906

  4. Thalamocortical interactions underlying visual fear conditioning in humans.

    PubMed

    Lithari, Chrysa; Moratti, Stephan; Weisz, Nathan

    2015-11-01

    Despite a strong focus on the role of the amygdala in fear conditioning, recent works point to a more distributed network supporting fear conditioning. We aimed to elucidate interactions between subcortical and cortical regions in fear conditioning in humans. To do this, we used two fearful faces as conditioned stimuli (CS) and an electrical stimulation at the left hand, paired with one of the CS, as unconditioned stimulus (US). The luminance of the CS was rhythmically modulated leading to "entrainment" of brain oscillations at a predefined modulation frequency. Steady-state responses (SSR) were recorded by MEG. In addition to occipital regions, spectral analysis of SSR revealed increased power during fear conditioning particularly for thalamus and cerebellum contralateral to the upcoming US. Using thalamus and amygdala as seed-regions, directed functional connectivity was calculated to capture the modulation of interactions that underlie fear conditioning. Importantly, this analysis showed that the thalamus drives the fusiform area during fear conditioning, while amygdala captures the more general effect of fearful faces perception. This study confirms ideas from the animal literature, and demonstrates for the first time the central role of the thalamus in fear conditioning in humans. PMID:26287369

  5. Categories, Concepts, and Conditioning: How Humans Generalize Fear

    PubMed Central

    Dunsmoor, Joseph E.; Murphy, Gregory L.

    2015-01-01

    During the past century, Pavlovian conditioning has served as the predominant experimental paradigm and theoretical framework to understand how humans learn to fear and avoid real or perceived dangers. Animal models for translational research offer insight into basic behavioral and neurophysiological factors mediating the acquisition, expression, inhibition, and generalization of fear. However, it is important to consider the limits of traditional animal models when applied to humans. Here, we focus on the question of how humans generalize fear. We propose that to understand fear generalization in humans requires taking into account research on higher-level cognition such as category-based induction, inferential reasoning, and representation of conceptual knowledge. Doing so will open the door for productive avenues of new research. PMID:25577706

  6. Generalization of Extinguished Skin Conductance Responding in Human Fear Conditioning

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Vervliet, Bram; Vansteenwegen, Debora; Eelen, Paul

    2004-01-01

    In a human fear conditioning paradigm using the skin conductance response (SCR), participants were assigned to two groups. Following identical acquisition, group ABA (n = 16) was extinguished to a generalization stimulus (GS), whereas group AAB (n = 20) was extinguished to the conditioned stimulus (CS). At test, presenting the CS in group ABA…

  7. Unconditioned responses and functional fear networks in human classical conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Linnman, Clas; Rougemont-Bücking, Ansgar; Beucke, Jan Carl; Zeffiro, Thomas A; Milad, Mohammed R

    2011-01-01

    Human imaging studies examining fear conditioning have mainly focused on the neural responses to conditioned cues. In contrast, the neural basis of the unconditioned response and the mechanisms by which fear modulates inter-regional functional coupling have received limited attention. We examined the neural responses to an unconditioned stimulus using a partial-reinforcement fear conditioning paradigm and functional MRI. The analysis focused on: (1) the effects of an unconditioned stimulus (an electric shock) that was either expected and actually delivered, or expected but not delivered, and (2) on how related brain activity changed across conditioning trials, and (3) how shock expectation influenced inter-regional coupling within the fear network. We found that: (1) the delivery of the shock engaged the red nucleus, amygdale, dorsal striatum, insula, somatosensory and cingulate cortices, (2) when the shock was expected but not delivered, only the red nucleus, the anterior insular and dorsal anterior cingulate cortices showed activity increases that were sustained across trials, and (3) psycho-physiological interaction analysis demonstrated that fear led to increased red nucleus coupling to insula but decreased hippocampus coupling to the red nucleus, thalamus and cerebellum. The hippocampus and the anterior insula may serve as hubs facilitating the switch between engagement of a defensive immediate fear network and a resting network. PMID:21377494

  8. Unconditioned responses and functional fear networks in human classical conditioning.

    PubMed

    Linnman, Clas; Rougemont-Bücking, Ansgar; Beucke, Jan Carl; Zeffiro, Thomas A; Milad, Mohammed R

    2011-08-01

    Human imaging studies examining fear conditioning have mainly focused on the neural responses to conditioned cues. In contrast, the neural basis of the unconditioned response and the mechanisms by which fear modulates inter-regional functional coupling have received limited attention. We examined the neural responses to an unconditioned stimulus using a partial-reinforcement fear conditioning paradigm and functional MRI. The analysis focused on: (1) the effects of an unconditioned stimulus (an electric shock) that was either expected and actually delivered, or expected but not delivered, and (2) on how related brain activity changed across conditioning trials, and (3) how shock expectation influenced inter-regional coupling within the fear network. We found that: (1) the delivery of the shock engaged the red nucleus, amygdale, dorsal striatum, insula, somatosensory and cingulate cortices, (2) when the shock was expected but not delivered, only the red nucleus, the anterior insular and dorsal anterior cingulate cortices showed activity increases that were sustained across trials, and (3) psycho-physiological interaction analysis demonstrated that fear led to increased red nucleus coupling to insula but decreased hippocampus coupling to the red nucleus, thalamus and cerebellum. The hippocampus and the anterior insula may serve as hubs facilitating the switch between engagement of a defensive immediate fear network and a resting network. PMID:21377494

  9. Generalization of Conditioned Fear-Potentiated Startle in Humans

    PubMed Central

    Lissek, Shmuel; Biggs, Arter L.; Rabin, Stephanie J.; Cornwell, Brian R.; Alvarez, Ruben P.; Pine, Daniel S.; Grillon, Christian

    2008-01-01

    Though generalization of conditioned fear has been implicated as a central feature of pathological anxiety, surprisingly little is known about the psychobiology of this learning phenomenon in humans. Whereas animal work has frequently applied methods to examine generalization gradients to study the gradual weakening of the conditioned-fear response as the test stimulus increasingly differs from the conditioned stimulus (CS), to our knowledge no psychobiological studies of such gradients have been conducted in humans over the last 40 years. The current effort validates an updated generalization paradigm incorporating more recent methods for the objective measurement of anxiety (fear-potentiated startle). The paradigm employs 10, quasi-randomly presented, rings of gradually-increasing size with extremes serving as CS+ and CS-. The eight rings of intermediary size serve as generalization stimuli (GS’s) and create a continuum-of-similarity from CS+ to CS-. Both startle data and online self-report ratings demonstrate continuous decreases in generalization as the presented stimulus becomes less similar to the CS+. The current paradigm represents an updated and efficacious tool with which to study fear generalization—a central, yet understudied conditioning-correlate of pathologic anxiety. PMID:18394587

  10. The effects of transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation on conditioned fear extinction in humans.

    PubMed

    Burger, Andreas M; Verkuil, Bart; Van Diest, Ilse; Van der Does, Willem; Thayer, Julian F; Brosschot, Jos F

    2016-07-01

    A critical component of the treatment for anxiety disorders is the extinction of fear via repeated exposure to the feared stimulus. This process is strongly dependent on successful memory formation and consolidation. Stimulation of the vagus nerve enhances memory formation in both animals and humans. The objective of this study was to assess whether transcutaneous stimulation of the vagus nerve (tVNS) can accelerate extinction memory formation and retention in fear conditioned humans. To assess fear conditioning and subsequent fear extinction, we assessed US expectancy ratings, fear potentiated startle responses and phasic heart rate responses. We conducted a randomized controlled trial in thirty-one healthy participants. After fear conditioning participants were randomly assigned to receive tVNS or sham stimulation during the extinction phase. Retention of extinction memory was tested 24h later. tVNS accelerated explicit fear extinction learning (US expectancy ratings), but did not lead to better retention of extinction memory 24h later. We did not find a differential physiological conditioning response during the acquisition of fear and thus were unable to assess potential effects of tVNS on the extinction of physiological indices of fear. These findings complement recent studies that suggest vagus nerve stimulation could be a promising tool to improve memory consolidation and fear extinction. PMID:27222436

  11. Fear conditioning and extinction across development: Evidence from human studies and animal models☆

    PubMed Central

    Shechner, Tomer; Hong, Melanie; Britton, Jennifer C.; Pine, Daniel S.; Fox, Nathan A.

    2015-01-01

    The ability to differentiate danger and safety through associative processes emerges early in life. Understanding the mechanisms underlying associative learning of threat and safety can clarify the processes that shape development of normative fears and pathological anxiety. Considerable research has used fear conditioning and extinction paradigms to delineate underlying mechanisms in animals and human adults; however, little is known about these mechanisms in children and adolescents. The current paper summarizes the empirical data on the development of fear conditioning and extinction. It reviews methodological considerations and future directions for research on fear conditioning and extinction in pediatric populations. PMID:24746848

  12. Fear conditioning and extinction across development: evidence from human studies and animal models.

    PubMed

    Shechner, Tomer; Hong, Melanie; Britton, Jennifer C; Pine, Daniel S; Fox, Nathan A

    2014-07-01

    The ability to differentiate danger and safety through associative processes emerges early in life. Understanding the mechanisms underlying associative learning of threat and safety can clarify the processes that shape development of normative fears and pathological anxiety. Considerable research has used fear conditioning and extinction paradigms to delineate underlying mechanisms in animals and human adults; however, little is known about these mechanisms in children and adolescents. The current paper summarizes the empirical data on the development of fear conditioning and extinction. It reviews methodological considerations and future directions for research on fear conditioning and extinction in pediatric populations. PMID:24746848

  13. Human fear conditioning conducted in full immersion 3-dimensional virtual reality.

    PubMed

    Huff, Nicole C; Zeilinski, David J; Fecteau, Matthew E; Brady, Rachael; LaBar, Kevin S

    2010-01-01

    Fear conditioning is a widely used paradigm in non-human animal research to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying fear and anxiety. A major challenge in conducting conditioning studies in humans is the ability to strongly manipulate or simulate the environmental contexts that are associated with conditioned emotional behaviors. In this regard, virtual reality (VR) technology is a promising tool. Yet, adapting this technology to meet experimental constraints requires special accommodations. Here we address the methodological issues involved when conducting fear conditioning in a fully immersive 6-sided VR environment and present fear conditioning data. In the real world, traumatic events occur in complex environments that are made up of many cues, engaging all of our sensory modalities. For example, cues that form the environmental configuration include not only visual elements, but aural, olfactory, and even tactile. In rodent studies of fear conditioning animals are fully immersed in a context that is rich with novel visual, tactile and olfactory cues. However, standard laboratory tests of fear conditioning in humans are typically conducted in a nondescript room in front of a flat or 2D computer screen and do not replicate the complexity of real world experiences. On the other hand, a major limitation of clinical studies aimed at reducing (extinguishing) fear and preventing relapse in anxiety disorders is that treatment occurs after participants have acquired a fear in an uncontrolled and largely unknown context. Thus the experimenters are left without information about the duration of exposure, the true nature of the stimulus, and associated background cues in the environment. In the absence of this information it can be difficult to truly extinguish a fear that is both cue and context-dependent. Virtual reality environments address these issues by providing the complexity of the real world, and at the same time allowing experimenters to constrain fear

  14. Fear generalization in humans: impact of feature learning on conditioning and extinction.

    PubMed

    Vervliet, Bram; Geens, Maarten

    2014-09-01

    Little is known about the role of discrete stimulus features in the regulation of fear. This study examined the effects of feature learning on the acquisition and extinction of fear conditioning. Human participants were fear conditioned to a yellow triangle (CS+) using an electrical shock. We manipulated feature learning through differential conditioning. The nonconditioned control stimulus (CS-) was a red triangle in one group (Color-Relevant), but a yellow circle in the other group (Shape-Relevant). Next, two generalization stimuli were tested that shared the shape- or color-feature with the CS+ (a blue triangle and a yellow square). Online shock-expectancy ratings and skin conductance responding showed that the CS- determined the pattern of fear generalization: the same-color stimulus elicited more fear in Group Color-Relevant, versus the same-shape stimulus in group Shape-Relevant. Furthermore, extinguishing these two generalization stimuli had no detectable effect on fear of the CS+. These results show that fear generalization is influenced by feature learning through differential conditioning, and that exposures to different features of a stimulus are not sufficient to extinguish fear of that stimulus as a whole. PMID:24120427

  15. Acquired fears reflected in cortical sensory processing: A review of electrophysiological studies of human classical conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Miskovic, Vladimir; Keil, Andreas

    2012-01-01

    The capacity to associate neutral stimuli with affective value is an important survival strategy that can be accomplished by cell assemblies obeying Hebbian learning principles. In the neuroscience laboratory, classical fear conditioning has been extensively used as a model to study learning related changes in neural structure and function. Here, we review the effects of classical fear conditioning on electromagnetic brain activity in humans, focusing on how sensory systems adapt to changing fear-related contingencies. By considering spatio-temporal patterns of mass neuronal activity we illustrate a range of cortical changes related to a retuning of neuronal sensitivity to amplify signals consistent with fear-associated stimuli at the cost of other sensory information. Putative mechanisms that may underlie fear-associated plasticity at the level of the sensory cortices are briefly considered and several avenues for future work are outlined. PMID:22891639

  16. The Impact of Instructions on Generalization of Conditioned Fear in Humans.

    PubMed

    Ahmed, Ola; Lovibond, Peter F

    2015-09-01

    Generalization of conditioned fear has been implicated in the maintenance and proliferation of fear in anxiety disorders. The role of cognitive processes in generalization of conditioning is an important yet understudied issue. Vervliet et al. (2010) tested generalization of fear to a visual stimulus of a particular color and shape paired with electric shock. Test stimuli shared either the color or shape of the CS+. Prior to conditioning, participants were instructed that either color or shape would be predictive of shock. Generalization was stronger to the stimulus containing the instructed feature, suggesting that instructions impacted generalization of fear. However, the result may also reflect the impact of instructions on attention and learning during the conditioning phase. In the present study, the instructional manipulation was given after the conditioning phase to control for any impact of instructions on learning. A similar result to that reported by Vervliet et al. was observed. On self-reported expectancy of shock, generalization was greater to the test stimulus that included the instructed stimulus feature. The same pattern was observed on skin conductance, although it did not reach statistical significance. The findings indicate that explicitly instructed information affected generalization of conditioned fear independently of any impact on learning, pointing to the role of cognitive processes in human fear generalization. They also support the utility of cognitive therapy approaches, which are employed after fear has already developed, in addressing clinical overgeneralization. PMID:26459840

  17. Reconsolidation in a human fear conditioning study: a test of extinction as updating mechanism.

    PubMed

    Kindt, Merel; Soeter, Marieke

    2013-01-01

    Disrupting reconsolidation seems to be a promising approach to dampen the expression of fear memory. Recently, we demonstrated that disrupting reconsolidation by a pharmacological manipulation specifically targeted the emotional expression of memory (i.e., startle response). Here we test in a human differential fear-conditioning paradigm with fear-relevant stimuli whether the spacing of a single unreinforced retrieval trial relative to extinction learning allows for "rewriting" the original fear association, thereby preventing the return of fear. In contrast to previous findings reported by Schiller et al. (2010), who used a single-method for indexing fear (skin conductance response) and fear-irrelevant stimuli, we found that extinction learning within the reconsolidation window did not prevent the recovery of fear on multiple indices of conditioned responding (startle response, skin conductance response and US-expectancy). These conflicting results ask for further critical testing given the potential impact on the field of emotional memory and its application to clinical practice. PMID:21986472

  18. Right-sided human prefrontal brain activation during acquisition of conditioned fear.

    PubMed

    Fischer, Håkan; Andersson, Jesper L R; Furmark, Tomas; Wik, Gustav; Fredrikson, Mats

    2002-09-01

    This H2(15)O positron emission tomography (PET) study reports on relative regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) alterations during fear conditioning in humans. In the PET scanner, subjects viewed a TV screen with either visual white noise or snake videotapes displayed alone, then with electric shocks, followed by final presentations of white noise and snakes. Autonomic nervous system responses confirmed fear conditioning only to snakes. To reveal neural activation during acquisition, while equating sensory stimulation, scans during snakes with shocks and white noise alone were contrasted against white noise with shocks and snakes alone. During acquisition, rCBF increased in the right medial frontal gyrus, supporting a role for the prefrontal cortex in fear conditioning to unmasked evolutionary fear-relevant stimuli. PMID:12899356

  19. Influence of stress on fear memory processes in an aversive differential conditioning paradigm in humans.

    PubMed

    Bentz, Dorothée; Michael, Tanja; Wilhelm, Frank H; Hartmann, Francina R; Kunz, Sabrina; von Rohr, Isabelle R Rudolf; de Quervain, Dominique J-F

    2013-07-01

    It is widely assumed that learning and memory processes play an important role in the pathogenesis, expression, maintenance and therapy of anxiety disorders, such as phobias or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Memory retrieval is involved in symptom expression and maintenance of these disorders, while memory extinction is believed to be the underlying mechanism of behavioral exposure therapy of anxiety disorders. There is abundant evidence that stress and stress hormones can reduce memory retrieval of emotional information, whereas they enhance memory consolidation of extinction training. In this study we aimed at investigating if stress affects these memory processes in a fear conditioning paradigm in healthy human subjects. On day 1, fear memory was acquired through a standard differential fear conditioning procedure. On day 2 (24h after fear acquisition), participants either underwent a stressful cold pressor test (CPT) or a control condition, 20 min before memory retrieval testing and extinction training. Possible prolonged effects of the stress manipulation were investigated on day 3 (48 h after fear acquisition), when memory retrieval and extinction were tested again. On day 2, men in the stress group showed a robust cortisol response to stress and showed lower unconditioned stimulus (US) expectancy ratings than men in the control group. This reduction in fear memory retrieval was maintained on day 3. In women, who showed a significantly smaller cortisol response to stress than men, no stress effects on fear memory retrieval were observed. No group differences were observed with respect to extinction. In conclusion, the present study provides evidence that stress can reduce memory retrieval of conditioned fear in men. Our findings may contribute to the understanding of the effects of stress and glucocorticoids on fear symptoms in anxiety disorders and suggest that such effects may be sex-specific. PMID:23333200

  20. From Pavlov to PTSD: The extinction of conditioned fear in rodents, humans, and in anxiety disorders

    PubMed Central

    VanElzakker, Michael B.; Dahlgren, M. Kathryn; Davis, F. Caroline; Dubois, Stacey; Shin, Lisa M.

    2014-01-01

    Nearly 100 years ago, Ivan Pavlov demonstrated that dogs could learn to use a neutral cue to predict a biologically relevant event: after repeated predictive pairings, Pavlov's dogs were conditioned to anticipate food at the sound of a bell, which caused them to salivate. Like sustenance, danger is biologically relevant, and neutral cues can take on great salience when they predict a threat to survival. In anxiety disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this type of conditioned fear fails to extinguish, and reminders of traumatic events can cause pathological conditioned fear responses for decades after danger has passed. In this review, we use fear conditioning and extinction studies to draw a direct line from Pavlov to PTSD and other anxiety disorders. We explain how rodent studies have informed neuroimaging studies of healthy humans and humans with PTSD. We describe several genes that have been linked to both PTSD and fear conditioning and extinction and explain how abnormalities in fear conditioning or extinction may reflect a general biomarker of anxiety disorders. Finally, we explore drug and neuromodulation treatments that may enhance therapeutic extinction in anxiety disorders. PMID:24321650

  1. From Pavlov to PTSD: the extinction of conditioned fear in rodents, humans, and anxiety disorders.

    PubMed

    VanElzakker, Michael B; Dahlgren, M Kathryn; Davis, F Caroline; Dubois, Stacey; Shin, Lisa M

    2014-09-01

    Nearly 100 years ago, Ivan Pavlov demonstrated that dogs could learn to use a neutral cue to predict a biologically relevant event: after repeated predictive pairings, Pavlov's dogs were conditioned to anticipate food at the sound of a bell, which caused them to salivate. Like sustenance, danger is biologically relevant, and neutral cues can take on great salience when they predict a threat to survival. In anxiety disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this type of conditioned fear fails to extinguish, and reminders of traumatic events can cause pathological conditioned fear responses for decades after danger has passed. In this review, we use fear conditioning and extinction studies to draw a direct line from Pavlov to PTSD and other anxiety disorders. We explain how rodent studies have informed neuroimaging studies of healthy humans and humans with PTSD. We describe several genes that have been linked to both PTSD and fear conditioning and extinction and explain how abnormalities in fear conditioning or extinction may reflect a general biomarker of anxiety disorders. Finally, we explore drug and neuromodulation treatments that may enhance therapeutic extinction in anxiety disorders. PMID:24321650

  2. Blockade of endogenous opioid neurotransmission enhances acquisition of conditioned fear in humans.

    PubMed

    Eippert, Falk; Bingel, Ulrike; Schoell, Eszter; Yacubian, Juliana; Büchel, Christian

    2008-05-21

    The endogenous opioid system is involved in fear learning in rodents, as opioid agonists attenuate and opioid antagonists facilitate the acquisition of conditioned fear. It has been suggested that an opioidergic signal, which is engaged through conditioning and acts inhibitory on unconditioned stimulus input, is the source of these effects. To clarify whether blockade of endogenous opioid neurotransmission enhances acquisition of conditioned fear in humans, and to elucidate the neural underpinnings of such an effect, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging in combination with behavioral recordings and a double-blind pharmacological intervention. All subjects underwent the same classical fear-conditioning paradigm, but subjects in the experimental group received the opioid antagonist naloxone before and during the experiment, in contrast to subjects in the control group, who received saline. Blocking endogenous opioid neurotransmission with naloxone led to more sustained responses to the unconditioned stimulus across trials, evident in both behavioral and blood oxygen level-dependent responses in pain responsive cortical regions. This effect was likely caused by naloxone blocking conditioned responses in a pain-inhibitory circuit involving opioid-rich areas such as the rostral anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala, and periaqueductal gray. Most importantly, naloxone enhanced the acquisition of fear on the behavioral level and changed the activation profile of the amygdala: whereas the control group showed rapidly decaying conditioned responses across trials, the naloxone group showed sustained conditioned responses in the amygdala. Together, these results demonstrate that in humans the endogenous opioid system has an inhibitory role in the acquisition of fear. PMID:18495880

  3. The influence of gonadal hormones on conditioned fear extinction in healthy humans.

    PubMed

    Milad, M R; Zeidan, M A; Contero, A; Pitman, R K; Klibanski, A; Rauch, S L; Goldstein, J M

    2010-07-14

    Recent rodent studies suggest that gonadal hormones influence extinction of conditioned fear. Here we investigated sex differences in, and the influence of estradiol and progesterone on, fear extinction in healthy humans. Men and women underwent a two-day paradigm in which fear conditioning and extinction learning took place on day 1 and extinction recall was tested on day 2. Visual cues were used as the conditioned stimuli and a mild electric shock was used as the unconditioned stimulus. Skin conductance was recorded throughout the experiment and used to measure conditioned responses (CRs). Blood samples were obtained from all women to measure estradiol and progesterone levels. We found that higher estradiol during extinction learning enhanced subsequent extinction recall but had no effects on fear acquisition or extinction learning itself. Sex differences were only observed during acquisition, with men exhibiting significantly higher CRs. After dividing women into low- and high-estradiol groups, men showed comparable extinction recall to high-estradiol women, and both of these groups showed higher extinction recall than low-estradiol women. Therefore, sex differences in extinction memory emerged only after taking into account women's estradiol levels. Lower estradiol may impair extinction consolidation in women. These findings could have practical applications in the treatment of anxiety disorders through cognitive and behavioral therapies. PMID:20412837

  4. The influence of gonadal hormones on conditioned fear extinction in healthy humans

    PubMed Central

    Milad, Mohammed R; Zeidan, Mohamed A.; Contero, Angelica; Pitman, Roger K.; Klibanski, Anne; Rauch, Scott L.; Goldstein, Jill M.

    2010-01-01

    Recent rodent studies suggest that gonadal hormones influence extinction of conditioned fear. Here we investigated sex differences in, and the influence of estradiol and progesterone on, fear extinction in healthy humans. Men and women underwent a two-day paradigm in which fear conditioning and extinction learning took place on day 1 and extinction recall was tested on day 2. Visual cues were used as the conditioned stimuli and a mild electric shock was used as the unconditioned stimulus. Skin conductance was recorded throughout the experiment and used to measure conditioned responses (CRs). Blood samples were obtained from all women to measure estradiol and progesterone levels. We found that higher estradiol during extinction learning enhanced subsequent extinction recall but had no effects on fear acquisition or extinction learning itself. Sex differences were only observed during acquisition, with men exhibiting significantly higher CRs. After dividing women into low- and high-estradiol groups, men showed comparable extinction recall to high-estradiol women, and both of these groups showed higher extinction recall than low-estradiol women. Therefore, sex differences in extinction memory emerged only after taking into account women's estradiol levels. Lower estradiol may impair extinction consolidation in women. These findings could have practical applications in the treatment of anxiety disorders through cognitive and behavioral therapies. PMID:20412837

  5. Fear conditioning to subliminal fear relevant and non fear relevant stimuli.

    PubMed

    Lipp, Ottmar V; Kempnich, Clare; Jee, Sang Hoon; Arnold, Derek H

    2014-01-01

    A growing body of evidence suggests that conscious visual awareness is not a prerequisite for human fear learning. For instance, humans can learn to be fearful of subliminal fear relevant images--images depicting stimuli thought to have been fear relevant in our evolutionary context, such as snakes, spiders, and angry human faces. Such stimuli could have a privileged status in relation to manipulations used to suppress usually salient images from awareness, possibly due to the existence of a designated sub-cortical 'fear module'. Here we assess this proposition, and find it wanting. We use binocular masking to suppress awareness of images of snakes and wallabies (particularly cute, non-threatening marsupials). We find that subliminal presentations of both classes of image can induce differential fear conditioning. These data show that learning, as indexed by fear conditioning, is neither contingent on conscious visual awareness nor on subliminal conditional stimuli being fear relevant. PMID:25198514

  6. Effects of Stress and Sex on Acquisition and Consolidation of Human Fear Conditioning

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Kuhn, Cynthia M.; LaBar, Kevin S.; Zorawski, Michael; Blanding, Nineequa Q.

    2006-01-01

    We examined the relationship between stress hormone (cortisol) release and acquisition and consolidation of conditioned fear learning in healthy adults. Participants underwent acquisition of differential fear conditioning, and consolidation was assessed in a 24-h delayed extinction test. The acquisition phase was immediately followed by an 11-min…

  7. An Overview of Translationally Informed Treatments for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Animal Models of Pavlovian Fear Conditioning to Human Clinical Trials.

    PubMed

    Bowers, Mallory E; Ressler, Kerry J

    2015-09-01

    Posttraumatic stress disorder manifests after exposure to a traumatic event and is characterized by avoidance/numbing, intrusive symptoms and flashbacks, mood and cognitive disruptions, and hyperarousal/reactivity symptoms. These symptoms reflect dysregulation of the fear system likely caused by poor fear inhibition/extinction, increased generalization, and/or enhanced consolidation or acquisition of fear. These phenotypes can be modeled in animal subjects using Pavlovian fear conditioning, allowing investigation of the underlying neurobiology of normative and pathological fear. Preclinical studies reveal a number of neurotransmitter systems and circuits critical for aversive learning and memory that have informed the development of therapies used in human clinical trials. In this review, we discuss the evidence for a number of established and emerging pharmacotherapies and device-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder that have been developed via a bench to bedside translational model. PMID:26238379

  8. An overview of translationally informed treatments for PTSD: animal models of Pavlovian fear conditioning to human clinical trials

    PubMed Central

    Bowers, Mallory E.; Ressler, Kerry J.

    2015-01-01

    Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) manifests after exposure to a traumatic event and is characterized by avoidance/numbing, intrusive symptoms and flashbacks, mood and cognitive disruptions, and hyperarousal/reactivity symptoms. These symptoms reflect dysregulation of the fear system likely caused by poor fear inhibition/extinction, increased generalization, and/or enhanced consolidation or acquisition of fear. These phenotypes can be modeled in animal subjects using Pavlovian fear conditioning, allowing investigation of the underlying neurobiology of normative and pathological fear. Pre-clinical studies reveal a number of neurotransmitter systems and circuits critical for aversive learning and memory, which have informed the development of therapies used in human clinical trials. In this review, we discuss the evidence for a number of established and emerging pharmacotherapies and device-based treatments for PTSD that have been developed via a bench to bedside translational model. PMID:26238379

  9. Thwarting the Renewal (Relapse) of Conditioned Fear with the Explicitly Unpaired Procedure: Possible Interpretations and Implications for Treating Human Fears and Phobias

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Thomas, Brian L.; Longo, Craig L.; Ayres, John J. B.

    2005-01-01

    In three experiments using the barpress conditioned suppression task with albino rats, we studied the renewal (relapse) of conditioned fear in an ABA fear-renewal paradigm. We found that explicitly unpaired (EU) deliveries of conditioned stimuli (CSs) and unconditioned stimuli (USs) in Context B thwarted fear renewal in Context A. Evidence…

  10. Dynamic competition between large-scale functional networks differentiates fear conditioning and extinction in humans.

    PubMed

    Marstaller, Lars; Burianová, Hana; Reutens, David C

    2016-07-01

    The high evolutionary value of learning when to respond to threats or when to inhibit previously learned associations after changing threat contingencies is reflected in dedicated networks in the animal and human brain. Recent evidence further suggests that adaptive learning may be dependent on the dynamic interaction of meta-stable functional brain networks. However, it is still unclear which functional brain networks compete with each other to facilitate associative learning and how changes in threat contingencies affect this competition. The aim of this study was to assess the dynamic competition between large-scale networks related to associative learning in the human brain by combining a repeated differential conditioning and extinction paradigm with independent component analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging data. The results (i) identify three task-related networks involved in initial and sustained conditioning as well as extinction, and demonstrate that (ii) the two main networks that underlie sustained conditioning and extinction are anti-correlated with each other and (iii) the dynamic competition between these two networks is modulated in response to changes in associative contingencies. These findings provide novel evidence for the view that dynamic competition between large-scale functional networks differentiates fear conditioning from extinction learning in the healthy brain and suggest that dysfunctional network dynamics might contribute to learning-related neuropsychiatric disorders. PMID:27079532

  11. Prefrontal neuronal circuits of contextual fear conditioning.

    PubMed

    Rozeske, R R; Valerio, S; Chaudun, F; Herry, C

    2015-01-01

    Over the past years, numerous studies have provided a clear understanding of the neuronal circuits and mechanisms involved in the formation, expression and extinction phases of conditioned cued fear memories. Yet, despite a strong clinical interest, a detailed understanding of these memory phases for contextual fear memories is still missing. Besides the well-known role of the hippocampus in encoding contextual fear behavior, growing evidence indicates that specific regions of the medial prefrontal cortex differentially regulate contextual fear acquisition and storage in both animals and humans that ultimately leads to expression of contextual fear memories. In this review, we provide a detailed description of the recent literature on the role of distinct prefrontal subregions in contextual fear behavior and provide a working model of the neuronal circuits involved in the acquisition, expression and generalization of contextual fear memories. PMID:25287656

  12. The neural correlates of negative prediction error signaling in human fear conditioning.

    PubMed

    Spoormaker, V I; Andrade, K C; Schröter, M S; Sturm, A; Goya-Maldonado, R; Sämann, P G; Czisch, M

    2011-02-01

    In a temporal difference (TD) learning approach to classical conditioning, a prediction error (PE) signal shifts from outcome deliverance to the onset of the conditioned stimulus. Omission of an expected outcome results in a negative PE signal, which is the initial step towards successful extinction. In order to visualize negative PE signaling during fear conditioning, we employed combined functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) and skin conductance response (SCR) measurements in a conditioning task with visual stimuli and mild electrical shocks. Positive PE signaling was associated with increased activation in the bilateral insula, supplementary motor area, brainstem, and visual cortices. Negative PE signaling was associated with increased activation in the ventromedial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices, the left lateral orbital gyrus, the middle temporal gyri, angular gyri, and visual cortices. The involvement of the ventromedial prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex in extinction learning has been well documented, and this study provides evidence for the notion that these regions are already involved in negative PE signaling during fear conditioning. PMID:20869454

  13. Generalization of Conditioned Fear along a Dimension of Increasing Fear Intensity

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Dunsmoor, Joseph E.; Mitroff, Stephen R.; LaBar, Kevin S.

    2009-01-01

    The present study investigated the extent to which fear generalization in humans is determined by the amount of fear intensity in nonconditioned stimuli relative to a perceptually similar conditioned stimulus. Stimuli consisted of graded emotionally expressive faces of the same identity morphed between neutral and fearful endpoints. Two…

  14. [Mechanisms for regulation of fear conditioning and memory].

    PubMed

    Kida, Satoshi

    2014-11-01

    Pavlovian fear conditioning is a model of fear learning and memory. The mechanisms regulating fear conditioning and memory have been investigated in humans and rodents. In this paradigm, animals learn and memorize an association between a conditioned stimulus (CS), such as context, and an unconditioned stimulus (US), such as an electrical footshock that induces fear. Fear memory generated though fear conditioning is stabilized via a memory consolidation process. Moreover, recent studies have shown the existence of memory processes that control fear memory following the retrieval of consolidated memory. Indeed, when fear memory is retrieved by re-exposure to the CS, the retrieved memory is re-stabilized via the reconsolidation process. On the other hand, the retrieval of fear memory by prolonged re-exposure to the CS also leads to fear memory extinction, new inhibitory learning against the fear memory, in which animals learn that they do not need to respond to the CS. Importantly, the reinforcement of fear memory after retrieval (i.e., re-experience such as flashbacks or nightmares) has been thought to be associated with the development of emotional disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this review, I summarize recent progress in studies on the mechanism of fear conditioning and memory consolidation, reconsolidation and extinction, and furthermore, introduce our recent establishment of a mouse PTSD model that shows enhancement of fear memory after retrieval. PMID:25536762

  15. Equal pain—Unequal fear response: enhanced susceptibility of tooth pain to fear conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Meier, Michael L.; de Matos, Nuno M. P.; Brügger, Mike; Ettlin, Dominik A.; Lukic, Nenad; Cheetham, Marcus; Jäncke, Lutz; Lutz, Kai

    2014-01-01

    Experimental fear conditioning in humans is widely used as a model to investigate the neural basis of fear learning and to unravel the pathogenesis of anxiety disorders. It has been observed that fear conditioning depends on stimulus salience and subject vulnerability to fear. It is further known that the prevalence of dental-related fear and phobia is exceedingly high in the population. Dental phobia is unique as no other body part is associated with a specific phobia. Therefore, we hypothesized that painful dental stimuli exhibit an enhanced susceptibility to fear conditioning when comparing to equal perceived stimuli applied to other body sites. Differential susceptibility to pain-related fear was investigated by analyzing responses to an unconditioned stimulus (UCS) applied to the right maxillary canine (UCS-c) vs. the right tibia (UCS-t). For fear conditioning, UCS-c and USC-t consisted of painful electric stimuli, carefully matched at both application sites for equal intensity and quality perception. UCSs were paired to simple geometrical forms which served as conditioned stimuli (CS+). Unpaired CS+ were presented for eliciting and analyzing conditioned fear responses. Outcome parameter were (1) skin conductance changes and (2) time-dependent brain activity (BOLD responses) in fear-related brain regions such as the amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, insula, thalamus, orbitofrontal cortex, and medial prefrontal cortex. A preferential susceptibility of dental pain to fear conditioning was observed, reflected by heightened skin conductance responses and enhanced time-dependent brain activity (BOLD responses) in the fear network. For the first time, this study demonstrates fear-related neurobiological mechanisms that point toward a superior conditionability of tooth pain. Beside traumatic dental experiences our results offer novel evidence that might explain the high prevalence of dental-related fears in the population. PMID:25100974

  16. Frozen with fear: Conditioned suppression in a virtual reality model of human anxiety.

    PubMed

    Allcoat, Devon; Greville, W James; Newton, Philip M; Dymond, Simon

    2015-09-01

    Freezing-like topographies of behavior are elicited in conditioned suppression tasks whereby appetitive behavior is reduced by presentations of an aversively conditioned threat cue relative to a safety cue. Conditioned suppression of operant behavior by a Pavlovian threat cue is an established laboratory model of quantifying the response impairment seen in anxiety disorders. Little is known however about how different response topographies indicative of conditioned suppression are elicited in humans. Here, we refined a novel virtual reality (VR) paradigm in which presentations of a threat cue of unpredictable duration occurred while participants performed an operant response of shooting and destroying boxes searching for hidden gold. The VR paradigm detected significant suppression of response topographies (shots, hits and breaks) for a Pavlovian threat cue relative to a safety cue and novel cue presentations. Implications of the present findings for translational research on appetitive and aversive conflict in anxiety disorders are discussed. PMID:26115568

  17. Conditioned fear modulates visual selection.

    PubMed

    Mulckhuyse, Manon; Crombez, Geert; Van der Stigchel, Stefan

    2013-06-01

    Eye movements reflect the dynamic interplay between top-down- and bottom-up-driven processes. For example, when we voluntarily move our eyes across the visual field, salient visual stimuli in the environment may capture our attention, our eyes, or modulate the trajectory of an eye movement. Previous research has shown that the behavioral relevance of a salient stimulus modulates these processes. This study investigated whether a stimulus signaling an aversive event modulates saccadic behavior. Using a differential fear-conditioning procedure, we presented a threatening (conditional stimulus: CS+) and a nonthreatening stimulus distractor (CS-) during an oculomotor selection task. The results show that short-latency saccades deviated more strongly toward the CS+ than toward the CS- distractor, whereas long-latency saccades deviated more strongly away from the CS+ than from the CS- distractor. Moreover, the CS+ distractor captured the eyes more often than the CS- distractor. Together, these results demonstrate that conditioned fear has a direct and immediate influence on visual selection. The findings are interpreted in terms of a neurobiological model of emotional visual processing. PMID:23356561

  18. Limbic areas are functionally decoupled and visual cortex takes a more central role during fear conditioning in humans.

    PubMed

    Lithari, Chrysa; Moratti, Stephan; Weisz, Nathan

    2016-01-01

    Going beyond the focus on isolated brain regions (e.g. amygdala), recent neuroimaging studies on fear conditioning point to the relevance of a network of mutually interacting brain regions. In the present MEG study we used Graph Theory to uncover changes in the architecture of the brain functional network shaped by fear conditioning. Firstly, induced power analysis revealed differences in local cortical excitability (lower alpha and beta power) between CS+ and CS- localized to somatosensory cortex and insula. What is more striking however is that the graph theoretical measures unveiled a re-organization of brain functional connections, not evident using conventional power analysis. Subcortical fear-related structures exhibited reduced connectivity with temporal and frontal areas rendering the overall brain functional network more sparse during fear conditioning. At the same time, the calcarine took on a more central role in the network. Interestingly, the more the connectivity of limbic areas is reduced, the more central the role of the occipital cortex becomes. We speculated that both, the reduced coupling in some regions and the emerging centrality of others, contribute to the efficient processing of fear-relevant information during fear learning. PMID:27381479

  19. Limbic areas are functionally decoupled and visual cortex takes a more central role during fear conditioning in humans

    PubMed Central

    Lithari, Chrysa; Moratti, Stephan; Weisz, Nathan

    2016-01-01

    Going beyond the focus on isolated brain regions (e.g. amygdala), recent neuroimaging studies on fear conditioning point to the relevance of a network of mutually interacting brain regions. In the present MEG study we used Graph Theory to uncover changes in the architecture of the brain functional network shaped by fear conditioning. Firstly, induced power analysis revealed differences in local cortical excitability (lower alpha and beta power) between CS+ and CS− localized to somatosensory cortex and insula. What is more striking however is that the graph theoretical measures unveiled a re-organization of brain functional connections, not evident using conventional power analysis. Subcortical fear-related structures exhibited reduced connectivity with temporal and frontal areas rendering the overall brain functional network more sparse during fear conditioning. At the same time, the calcarine took on a more central role in the network. Interestingly, the more the connectivity of limbic areas is reduced, the more central the role of the occipital cortex becomes. We speculated that both, the reduced coupling in some regions and the emerging centrality of others, contribute to the efficient processing of fear-relevant information during fear learning. PMID:27381479

  20. Sex differences in fear conditioning in posttraumatic stress disorder

    PubMed Central

    Inslicht, Sabra S.; Metzler, Thomas J.; Garcia, Natalia M.; Pineles, Suzanne L.; Milad, Mohammed R.; Orr, Scott P.; Marmar, Charles R.; Neylan, Thomas C.

    2013-01-01

    Background Women are twice as likely as men to develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Abnormal acquisition of conditioned fear has been suggested as a mechanism for the development of PTSD. While some studies of healthy humans suggest that women are either no different or express less conditioned fear responses during conditioning relative to men, differences in the acquisition of conditioned fear between men and women diagnosed with PTSD has not been examined. Methods Thirty-one participants (18 men; 13 women) with full or subsyndromal PTSD completed a fear conditioning task. Participants were shown computer-generated colored circles that were paired (CS+) or unpaired (CS−) with an aversive electrical stimulus and skin conductance levels were assessed throughout the task. Results Repeated measures ANOVA indicated a significant sex by stimulus interaction during acquisition. Women had greater differential conditioned skin conductance responses (CS + trials compared to CS− trials) than did men, suggesting greater acquisition of conditioned fear in women with PTSD. Conclusions In contrast to studies of healthy individuals, we found enhanced acquisition of conditioned fear in women with PTSD. Greater fear conditioning in women may either be a pre-existing vulnerability trait or an acquired phenomenon that emerges in a sex-dependent manner after the development of PTSD. Characterizing the underlying mechanisms of these differences is needed to clarify sex-related differences in the pathophysiology of PTSD. PMID:23107307

  1. Developmental aspects of fear: Comparing the acquisition and generalization of conditioned fear in children and adults.

    PubMed

    Schiele, Miriam A; Reinhard, Julia; Reif, Andreas; Domschke, Katharina; Romanos, Marcel; Deckert, Jürgen; Pauli, Paul

    2016-05-01

    Most research on human fear conditioning and its generalization has focused on adults whereas only little is known about these processes in children. Direct comparisons between child and adult populations are needed to determine developmental risk markers of fear and anxiety. We compared 267 children and 285 adults in a differential fear conditioning paradigm and generalization test. Skin conductance responses (SCR) and ratings of valence and arousal were obtained to indicate fear learning. Both groups displayed robust and similar differential conditioning on subjective and physiological levels. However, children showed heightened fear generalization compared to adults as indexed by higher arousal ratings and SCR to the generalization stimuli. Results indicate overgeneralization of conditioned fear as a developmental correlate of fear learning. The developmental change from a shallow to a steeper generalization gradient is likely related to the maturation of brain structures that modulate efficient discrimination between danger and (ambiguous) safety cues. © 2016 The Authors. Developmental Psychobiology Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 58: 471-481, 2016. PMID:26798984

  2. Effects of sleep on memory for conditioned fear and fear extinction

    PubMed Central

    Pace-Schott, Edward F.; Germain, Anne; Milad, Mohammed R.

    2015-01-01

    Learning and memory for extinction of conditioned fear is a basic mammalian mechanism for regulating negative emotion. Sleep promotes both the consolidation of memory and the regulation of emotion. Sleep can influence consolidation and modification of memories associated with both fear and its extinction. After brief overviews of the behavior and neural circuitry associated with fear conditioning, extinction learning and extinction memory in the rodent and human, interactions of sleep with these processes will be examined. Animal and human studies suggest that sleep can serve to consolidate both fear and extinction memory. In humans, sleep also promotes generalization of extinction memory. Time-of-day effects on extinction learning and generalization are also seen. REM may be a sleep stage of particular importance for the consolidation of both fear and extinction memory as evidenced by selective REM deprivation experiments. REM sleep is accompanied by selective activation of the same limbic structures implicated in the learning and memory of fear and extinction. Preliminary evidence also suggests extinction learning can take place during slow wave sleep. Study of low-level processes such as conditioning, extinction and habituation may allow sleep effects on emotional memory to be identified and inform study of sleep’s effects on more complex, emotionally salient declarative memories. Anxiety disorders are marked by impairments of both sleep and extinction memory. Improving sleep quality may ameliorate anxiety disorders by strengthening naturally acquired extinction. Strategically timed sleep may be used to enhance treatment of anxiety by strengthening therapeutic extinction learned via exposure therapy. PMID:25894546

  3. BDNFval66met affects neural activation pattern during fear conditioning and 24 h delayed fear recall

    PubMed Central

    Golkar, Armita; Lindström, Kara M.; Haaker, Jan; Öhman, Arne; Schalling, Martin; Ingvar, Martin

    2015-01-01

    Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), the most abundant neutrophin in the mammalian central nervous system, is critically involved in synaptic plasticity. In both rodents and humans, BDNF has been implicated in hippocampus- and amygdala-dependent learning and memory and has more recently been linked to fear extinction processes. Fifty-nine healthy participants, genotyped for the functional BDNFval66met polymorphism, underwent a fear conditioning and 24h-delayed extinction protocol while skin conductance and blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) responses (functional magnetic resonance imaging) were acquired. We present the first report of neural activation pattern during fear acquisition ‘and’ extinction for the BDNFval66met polymorphism using a differential conditioned stimulus (CS)+ > CS− comparison. During conditioning, we observed heightened allele dose-dependent responses in the amygdala and reduced responses in the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex in BDNFval66met met-carriers. During early extinction, 24h later, we again observed heightened responses in several regions ascribed to the fear network in met-carriers as opposed to val-carriers (insula, amygdala, hippocampus), which likely reflects fear memory recall. No differences were observed during late extinction, which likely reflects learned extinction. Our data thus support previous associations of the BDNFval66met polymorphism with neural activation in the fear and extinction network, but speak against a specific association with fear extinction processes. PMID:25103087

  4. Contextual fear conditioning depresses infralimbic excitability.

    PubMed

    Soler-Cedeño, Omar; Cruz, Emmanuel; Criado-Marrero, Marangelie; Porter, James T

    2016-04-01

    Patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) show hypo-active ventromedial prefrontal cortices (vmPFC) that correlate with their impaired ability to discriminate between safe and dangerous contexts and cues. Previously, we found that auditory fear conditioning depresses the excitability of neurons populating the homologous structure in rodents, the infralimbic cortex (IL). However, it is undetermined if IL depression was mediated by the cued or contextual information. The objective of this study was to examine whether contextual information was sufficient to depress IL neuronal excitability. After exposing rats to context-alone, pseudoconditioning, or contextual fear conditioning, we used whole-cell current-clamp recordings to examine the excitability of IL neurons in prefrontal brain slices. We found that contextual fear conditioning reduced IL neuronal firing in response to depolarizing current steps. In addition, neurons from contextual fear conditioned animals showed increased slow afterhyperpolarization potentials (sAHPs). Moreover, the observed changes in IL excitability correlated with contextual fear expression, suggesting that IL depression may contribute to the encoding of contextual fear. PMID:26860438

  5. Demographic factors predict magnitude of conditioned fear.

    PubMed

    Rosenbaum, Blake L; Bui, Eric; Marin, Marie-France; Holt, Daphne J; Lasko, Natasha B; Pitman, Roger K; Orr, Scott P; Milad, Mohammed R

    2015-10-01

    There is substantial variability across individuals in the magnitudes of their skin conductance (SC) responses during the acquisition and extinction of conditioned fear. To manage this variability, subjects may be matched for demographic variables, such as age, gender and education. However, limited data exist addressing how much variability in conditioned SC responses is actually explained by these variables. The present study assessed the influence of age, gender and education on the SC responses of 222 subjects who underwent the same differential conditioning paradigm. The demographic variables were found to predict a small but significant amount of variability in conditioned responding during fear acquisition, but not fear extinction learning or extinction recall. A larger differential change in SC during acquisition was associated with more education. Older participants and women showed smaller differential SC during acquisition. Our findings support the need to consider age, gender and education when studying fear acquisition but not necessarily when examining fear extinction learning and recall. Variability in demographic factors across studies may partially explain the difficulty in reproducing some SC findings. PMID:26151498

  6. Enhanced Generalization of Auditory Conditioned Fear in Juvenile Mice

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Ito, Wataru; Pan, Bing-Xing; Yang, Chao; Thakur, Siddarth; Morozov, Alexei

    2009-01-01

    Increased emotionality is a characteristic of human adolescence, but its animal models are limited. Here we report that generalization of auditory conditioned fear between a conditional stimulus (CS+) and a novel auditory stimulus is stronger in 4-5-wk-old mice (juveniles) than in their 9-10-wk-old counterparts (adults), whereas nonassociative…

  7. Voluntary exercise improves both learning and consolidation of cued conditioned fear in C57 mice.

    PubMed

    Falls, William A; Fox, James H; MacAulay, Christina M

    2010-03-01

    Exercise is associated with improved cognitive function in humans as well as improved learning across a range of tasks in rodents. Although these studies provide a strong link between exercise and learning, to date studies have largely focused on tasks that principally involve the hippocampus. However, exercise has been shown to produce alterations in other brain areas suggesting that the cognitive enhancing effects of exercise may be more general. Therefore we set out to examine the effects of voluntary exercise on cued Pavlovian fear conditioning, a form of learning that is critically dependent on the amygdala. In Experiment 1 we showed that mice given 2 weeks of access to a running wheel prior to tone and foot shock fear conditioning showed enhanced conditioned fear as measured by fear-potentiated startle. This effect was not the result of altered shock reactivity nor was it to due to reduced baseline startle amplitude in exercising mice. In subsequent experiments we sought to examine whether the enhanced cued conditioned fear was the result of an improvement in learning, consolidation or retrieval of conditioned fear. In separate groups of mice, two weeks of access to a running wheel was begun either prior to fear conditioning, immediately after fear conditioning (consolidation period) or 2 weeks after fear conditioning. Compared to sedentary mice, mice that exercised either prior to fear conditioning, or immediately after fear conditioning, showed enhanced cued conditioned fear. Fear conditioning was not enhanced in mice that began exercising 2 weeks after fear conditioning. Taken together these results suggest that voluntary exercise improves the learning and consolidation of cued conditioned fear but does not improve the retrieval or performance of conditioned fear. Because a great deal is known about the neural circuit for cued conditioned fear, it is now possible to examine the cellular, molecular and pharmacological changes associated with exercise in

  8. Early Extinction after Fear Conditioning Yields a Context-Independent and Short-Term Suppression of Conditional Freezing in Rats

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Chang, Chun-hui; Maren, Stephen

    2009-01-01

    Extinction of Pavlovian fear conditioning in rats is a useful model for therapeutic interventions in humans with anxiety disorders. Recently, we found that delivering extinction trials soon (15 min) after fear conditioning yields a short-term suppression of fear, but little long-term extinction. Here, we explored the possible mechanisms underlying…

  9. Effects of sleep on memory for conditioned fear and fear extinction.

    PubMed

    Pace-Schott, Edward F; Germain, Anne; Milad, Mohammed R

    2015-07-01

    Learning and memory for extinction of conditioned fear is a basic mammalian mechanism for regulating negative emotion. Sleep promotes both the consolidation of memory and the regulation of emotion. Sleep can influence consolidation and modification of memories associated with both fear and its extinction. After brief overviews of the behavior and neural circuitry associated with fear conditioning, extinction learning, and extinction memory in the rodent and human, interactions of sleep with these processes will be examined. Animal and human studies suggest that sleep can serve to consolidate both fear and extinction memory. In humans, sleep also promotes generalization of extinction memory. Time-of-day effects on extinction learning and generalization are also seen. Rapid eye movement (REM) may be a sleep stage of particular importance for the consolidation of both fear and extinction memory as evidenced by selective REM deprivation experiments. REM sleep is accompanied by selective activation of the same limbic structures implicated in the learning and memory of fear and extinction. Preliminary evidence also suggests extinction learning can take place during slow wave sleep. Study of low-level processes such as conditioning, extinction, and habituation may allow sleep effects on emotional memory to be identified and inform study of sleep's effects on more complex, emotionally salient declarative memories. Anxiety disorders are marked by impairments of both sleep and extinction memory. Improving sleep quality may ameliorate anxiety disorders by strengthening naturally acquired extinction. Strategically timed sleep may be used to enhance treatment of anxiety by strengthening therapeutic extinction learned via exposure therapy. (PsycINFO Database Record PMID:25894546

  10. Improvement of memory recall by quercetin in rodent contextual fear conditioning and human early-stage Alzheimer's disease patients.

    PubMed

    Nakagawa, Toshiyuki; Itoh, Masanori; Ohta, Kazunori; Hayashi, Yuichi; Hayakawa, Miki; Yamada, Yasushi; Akanabe, Hiroshi; Chikaishi, Tokio; Nakagawa, Kiyomi; Itoh, Yoshinori; Muro, Takato; Yanagida, Daisuke; Nakabayashi, Ryo; Mori, Tetsuya; Saito, Kazuki; Ohzawa, Kaori; Suzuki, Chihiro; Li, Shimo; Ueda, Masashi; Wang, Miao-Xing; Nishida, Emika; Islam, Saiful; Tana; Kobori, Masuko; Inuzuka, Takashi

    2016-06-15

    Patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) experience a wide array of cognitive deficits, which typically include the impairment of explicit memory. In previous studies, the authors reported that a flavonoid, quercetin, reduces the expression of ATF4 and delays memory deterioration in an early-stage AD mouse model. In the present study, the effects of long-term quercetin intake on memory recall were assessed using contextual fear conditioning in aged wild-type mice. In addition, the present study examined whether memory recall was affected by the intake of quercetin-rich onion (a new cultivar of hybrid onion 'Quergold') powder in early-stage AD patients. In-vivo analysis indicated that memory recall was enhanced in aged mice fed a quercetin-containing diet. Memory recall in early-stage AD patients, determined using the Revised Hasegawa Dementia Scale, was significantly improved by the intake of quercetin-rich onion (Quergold) powder for 4 weeks compared with the intake of control onion ('Mashiro' white onion) powder. These results indicate that quercetin might influence memory recall. PMID:27145228

  11. Prior fear conditioning and reward learning interact in fear and reward networks

    PubMed Central

    Bulganin, Lisa; Bach, Dominik R.; Wittmann, Bianca C.

    2014-01-01

    The ability to flexibly adapt responses to changes in the environment is important for survival. Previous research in humans separately examined the mechanisms underlying acquisition and extinction of aversive and appetitive conditioned responses. It is yet unclear how aversive and appetitive learning interact on a neural level during counterconditioning in humans. This functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study investigated the interaction of fear conditioning and subsequent reward learning. In the first phase (fear acquisition), images predicted aversive electric shocks or no aversive outcome. In the second phase (counterconditioning), half of the CS+ and CS− were associated with monetary reward in the absence of electric stimulation. The third phase initiated reinstatement of fear through presentation of electric shocks, followed by CS presentation in the absence of shock or reward. Results indicate that participants were impaired at learning the reward contingencies for stimuli previously associated with shock. In the counterconditioning phase, prior fear association interacted with reward representation in the amygdala, where activation was decreased for rewarded compared to unrewarded CS− trials, while there was no reward-related difference in CS+ trials. In the reinstatement phase, an interaction of previous fear association and previous reward status was observed in a reward network consisting of substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area (SN/VTA), striatum and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), where activation was increased by previous reward association only for CS− but not for CS+ trials. These findings suggest that during counterconditioning, prior fear conditioning interferes with reward learning, subsequently leading to lower activation of the reward network. PMID:24624068

  12. Fear Conditioned Responses and PTSD Symptoms in Children: Sex Differences in Fear-Related Symptoms

    PubMed Central

    Gamwell, Kaitlyn; Nylocks, Maria; Cross, Dorthie; Bradley, Bekh; Norrholm, Seth D.

    2016-01-01

    Fear conditioning studies in adults have found that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with heightened fear responses and impaired discrimination. The objective of the current study was to examine the association between PTSD symptoms and fear conditioned responses in children from a highly traumatized urban population. Children between 8 and 13 years old participated in a fear conditioning study in addition to providing information about their trauma history and PTSD symptoms. Results showed that females showed less discrimination between danger and safety signals during conditioning compared to age-matched males. In boys, intrusive symptoms were predictive of fear responses, even after controlling for trauma exposure. However, in girls, conditioned fear to the danger cue was predictive of self-blame and fear of repeated trauma. This study suggests there are early sex differences in the patterns of fear conditioning and that these sex differences may translate to differential risk for trauma-related psychopathology. PMID:26011240

  13. Fear conditioned responses and PTSD symptoms in children: Sex differences in fear-related symptoms.

    PubMed

    Gamwell, Kaitlyn; Nylocks, Maria; Cross, Dorthie; Bradley, Bekh; Norrholm, Seth D; Jovanovic, Tanja

    2015-11-01

    Fear conditioning studies in adults have found that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with heightened fear responses and impaired discrimination. The objective of the current study was to examine the association between PTSD symptoms and fear conditioned responses in children from a highly traumatized urban population. Children between 8 and 13 years old participated in a fear conditioning study in addition to providing information about their trauma history and PTSD symptoms. Results showed that females showed less discrimination between danger and safety signals during conditioning compared to age-matched males. In boys, intrusive symptoms were predictive of fear responses, even after controlling for trauma exposure. However, in girls, conditioned fear to the danger cue was predictive of self-blame and fear of repeated trauma. This study suggests there are early sex differences in the patterns of fear conditioning and that these sex differences may translate to differential risk for trauma-related psychopathology. PMID:26011240

  14. Conditioned Fear Acquisition and Generalization in Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

    PubMed

    Tinoco-González, Daniella; Fullana, Miquel Angel; Torrents-Rodas, David; Bonillo, Albert; Vervliet, Bram; Blasco, María Jesús; Farré, Magí; Torrubia, Rafael

    2015-09-01

    Abnormal fear conditioning processes (including fear acquisition and conditioned fear-generalization) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of anxiety disorders. Previous research has shown that individuals with panic disorder present enhanced conditioned fear-generalization in comparison to healthy controls. Enhanced conditioned fear-generalization could also characterize generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), but research so far is inconclusive. An important confounding factor in previous research is comorbidity. The present study examined conditioned fear-acquisition and fear-generalization in 28 patients with GAD and 30 healthy controls using a recently developed fear acquisition and generalization paradigm assessing fear-potentiated startle and online expectancies of the unconditioned stimulus. Analyses focused on GAD patients without comorbidity but included also patients with comorbid anxiety disorders. Patients and controls did not differ as regards fear acquisition. However, contrary to our hypothesis, both groups did not differ either in most indexes of conditioned fear-generalization. Moreover, dimensional measures of GAD symptoms were not correlated with conditioned fear-generalization indexes. Comorbidity did not have a significant impact on the results. Our data suggest that conditioned fear-generalization is not enhanced in GAD. Results are discussed with special attention to the possible effects of comorbidity on fear learning abnormalities. PMID:26459843

  15. Medial prefrontal cortex stimulation modulates the processing of conditioned fear

    PubMed Central

    Guhn, Anne; Dresler, Thomas; Andreatta, Marta; Müller, Laura D.; Hahn, Tim; Tupak, Sara V.; Polak, Thomas; Deckert, Jürgen; Herrmann, Martin J.

    2014-01-01

    The extinction of conditioned fear depends on an efficient interplay between the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). In rats, high-frequency electrical mPFC stimulation has been shown to improve extinction by means of a reduction of amygdala activity. However, so far it is unclear whether stimulation of homologues regions in humans might have similar beneficial effects. Healthy volunteers received one session of either active or sham repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) covering the mPFC while undergoing a 2-day fear conditioning and extinction paradigm. Repetitive TMS was applied offline after fear acquisition in which one of two faces (CS+ but not CS−) was associated with an aversive scream (UCS). Immediate extinction learning (day 1) and extinction recall (day 2) were conducted without UCS delivery. Conditioned responses (CR) were assessed in a multimodal approach using fear-potentiated startle (FPS), skin conductance responses (SCR), functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), and self-report scales. Consistent with the hypothesis of a modulated processing of conditioned fear after high-frequency rTMS, the active group showed a reduced CS+/CS− discrimination during extinction learning as evident in FPS as well as in SCR and arousal ratings. FPS responses to CS+ further showed a linear decrement throughout both extinction sessions. This study describes the first experimental approach of influencing conditioned fear by using rTMS and can thus be a basis for future studies investigating a complementation of mPFC stimulation to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). PMID:24600362

  16. Hippocampal Structural Plasticity Accompanies the Resulting Contextual Fear Memory Following Stress and Fear Conditioning

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Giachero, Marcelo; Calfa, Gaston D.; Molina, Victor A.

    2013-01-01

    The present research investigated the resulting contextual fear memory and structural plasticity changes in the dorsal hippocampus (DH) following stress and fear conditioning. This combination enhanced fear retention and increased the number of total and mature dendritic spines in DH. Intra-basolateral amygdala (BLA) infusion of midazolam prior to…

  17. Predator odor fear conditioning: Current perspectives and new directions

    PubMed Central

    Takahashi, Lorey K.; Chan, Megan M.; Pilar, Mark L.

    2008-01-01

    Predator odor fear conditioning involves the use of a natural unconditioned stimulus, as opposed to aversive electric foot-shock, to obtain novel information on the neural circuitry associated with emotional learning and memory. Researchers are beginning to identify brain sites associated with conditioned contextual fear such as the ventral anterior olfactory nucleus, dorsal premammillary nucleus, ventrolateral periaqueductal gray, cuneiform nucleus, and locus coeruleus. In addition, a few studies have reported an involvement of the basolateral and medial nucleus of the amygdala and hippocampus in fear conditioning. However, several important issues concerning the effectiveness of different predator odor unconditioned stimuli to produce fear conditioning, the precise role of brain nuclei in fear conditioning, and the general relation between the current predator odor and the traditional electric foot-shock fear conditioning procedures remain to be satisfactorily addressed. This review discusses the major behavioral results in the current predator odor fear conditioning literature and introduces two novel contextual and auditory fear conditioning models using cat odor. The new models provide critical information on the acquisition of conditioned fear behavior during training and the expression of conditioned responses in the retention test. Future studies adopting fear conditioning procedures that incorporate measures of both unconditioned and conditioned responses during training may lead to broad insights into predator odor fear conditioning and identify specific brain nuclei mediating conditioned stimulus – predator odor unconditioned stimulus associations. PMID:18577397

  18. Role of conceptual knowledge in learning and retention of conditioned fear

    PubMed Central

    Dunsmoor, Joseph E.; Martin, Alex; LaBar, Kevin S.

    2011-01-01

    Associating sensory cues with aversive outcomes is a relatively basic process shared across species. Yet higher-order cognitive processes likely contribute to associative fear learning in many circumstances, especially in humans. Here we ask whether fears can be acquired based on conceptual knowledge of object categories, and whether such concept-based fear conditioning leads to enhanced memory representations for conditioned objects. Participants were presented with a heterogeneous collection of images of animals and tools. Objects from one category were reinforced by an electrical shock, whereas the other category was never reinforced. Results confirmed concept-based fear learning through subjective report of shock expectancy, heightened skin conductance responses, and enhanced 24 hour recognition memory for items from the conditioned category. These results provide novel evidence that conditioned fear can generalize through knowledge of object concepts, and sheds light on the persistent nature of fear memories and category-based fear responses symptomatic of some anxiety disorders. PMID:22118937

  19. Increased stathmin expression strengthens fear conditioning in epileptic rats.

    PubMed

    Zhang, Linna; Feng, Danni; Tao, Hong; DE, Xiangyan; Chang, Qing; Hu, Qikuan

    2015-01-01

    Patients with temporal lobe epilepsy have inexplicable fear attack as the aura. However, the underlying neural mechanisms of seizure-modulated fear are not clarified. Recent studies identified stathmin as one of the key controlling molecules in learning and innate fear. Stathmin binds to tubulin, inhibits microtubule assembly and promotes microtubule catastrophes. Therefore, stathmin is predicted to play a crucial role in the association of epilepsy seizures with fear conditioning. Firstly, a pilocarpine model of epilepsy in rats was established, and subsequently the fear condition training was performed. The epileptic rats with fear conditioning (epilepsy + fear) had a much longer freezing time compared to each single stimulus. The increased freezing levels revealed a significantly strengthened effect of the epileptic seizures on the learned fear of the tone-shock contextual. Subsequently, the stathmin expression was compared in the hippocampus, the amygdale, the insular cortex and the temporal lobe. The significant change of stathmin expression occurred in the insular and the hippocampus, but not in the amygdale. Stathmin expression and dendritic microtubule stability were compared between fear and epilepsy in rats. Epilepsy was found to strengthen the fear conditioning with increased expression of stathmin and a decrease in microtubule stability. Fear conditioning slightly increased the expression of stathmin, whereas epilepsy with fear conditioning increased it significantly in the hippocampus, insular cortex and hypothalamus. The phosphorylated stathmin slightly increased in the epilepsy with fear conditioning. The increased expression of stathmin was contrary to the decrease of the stathmin microtubule-associated protein (MAP2) and α-tubulin in the epileptic rats with fear conditioning in all three areas of the brain. The most significant change of the ratio of MAP2 and α-tubulin/stathmin occurred in the insular cortex and hippocampus. In conclusion

  20. Young and Old Pavlovian Fear Memories Can Be Modified with Extinction Training during Reconsolidation in Humans

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Steinfurth, Elisa C. K.; Kanen, Jonathan W.; Raio, Candace M.; Clem, Roger L.; Huganir, Richard L.; Phelps, Elizabeth A.

    2014-01-01

    Extinction training during reconsolidation has been shown to persistently diminish conditioned fear responses across species. We investigated in humans if older fear memories can benefit similarly. Using a Pavlovian fear conditioning paradigm we compared standard extinction and extinction after memory reactivation 1 d or 7 d following acquisition.…

  1. Perceiving Threat In the Face of Safety: Excitation and Inhibition of Conditioned Fear in Human Visual Cortex

    PubMed Central

    2013-01-01

    Previous findings have established that cortical sensory systems exhibit experience-dependent biases toward stimuli consistently associated with threat. It remains unclear whether safety cues also facilitate perceptual engagement or how competition between learned threat and safety cues is resolved within visual cortex. Here, we used classical discrimination conditioning with simple luminance modulated visual stimuli that predicted the presence or absence of an aversive sound to examine visuocortical competition between features signaling threat versus safety. We tracked steady-state visual evoked potentials to label distinct visual cortical responses in humans to conditioned and control stimuli. Trial-by-trial expectancy ratings collected online confirmed that participants discriminated between threat and safety cues. Conditioning was associated with heightened activation of the extended visual cortex in response to the threat, but not the safety, stimulus. Cortical facilitation for the threatening stimulus was selective and not decreased by simultaneously presenting safe and associatively novel cues. Our findings shed light on the sensory brain dynamics associated with experience-dependent acquisition of perceptual biases for danger and safety signals. PMID:23283323

  2. Human fear extinction and return of fear using reconsolidation update mechanisms: The contribution of on-line expectancy ratings

    PubMed Central

    Warren, Victor Taylor; Anderson, Kemp M.; Kwon, Cliffe; Bosshardt, Lauren; Jovanovic, Tanja; Bradley, Bekh; Norrholm, Seth Davin

    2015-01-01

    Disruption of the reconsolidation of conditioned fear memories has been suggested as a non-pharmacological means of preventing the return of learned fear in human populations. A reconsolidation update paradigm was developed in which a reconsolidation window is opened by a single isolated retrieval trial of a previously reinforced CS+ which is then followed by Extinction Training within that window. However, follow-up studies in humans using multi-methods fear conditioning indices (e.g., fear-potentiated startle, skin conductance, US-expectancy) have failed to replicate the retrieval + extinction effects. In the present study, we further investigated the retrieval + extinction reconsolidation update paradigm by directly comparing the acquisition, extinction, and return of fear-potentiated startle in the absence or presence of US-expectancy measures (using a trial-by-trial response keypad) with and without retrieval of a previously acquired CS-US association. Participants were fear conditioned to two visual cue CS+'s, one of which was presented as a single, isolated retrieval trial before Extinction Training and one that was extinguished as usual. The results show that the inclusion of US-expectancy measures strengthens the CS–US association to provide enhanced fear conditioning and maintenance of fear memories over the experimental sessions. In addition, in the groups that used on-line US-expectancy measures, the retrieval + extinction procedure reduced reinstatement of fear-potentiated startle to both previously reinforced CS+'s, as compared to the extinction as usual group. PMID:24183839

  3. Asymmetrical Stimulus Generalization following Differential Fear Conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Bang, Sun Jung; Allen, Timothy A.; Jones, Lauren K.; Boguszewski, Pawel; Brown, Thomas H.

    2008-01-01

    Rodent ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) are ethologically critical social signals. Rats emit 22 kHz USVs and 50 kHz USVs, respectively, in conjunction with negative and positive affective states. Little is known about what controls emotional reactivity to these social signals. Using male Sprague-Dawley rats, we examined unconditional and conditional freezing behavior in response to the following auditory stimuli: three 22 kHz USVs, a discontinuous tone whose frequency and on-off pattern matched one of the USVs, a continuous tone with the same or lower frequencies, a 4 kHz discontinuous tone with an on-off pattern matched to one of the USVs, and a 50 kHz USV. There were no differences among these stimuli in terms of the unconditional elicitation of freezing behavior. Thus, the stimuli were equally neutral before conditioning. During differential fear conditioning, one of these stimuli (the CS+) always co-terminated with a footshock unconditional stimulus (US) and another stimulus (the CS−) was explicitly unpaired with the US. There were no significant differences among these cues in CS+-elicited freezing behavior. Thus, the stimuli were equally salient or effective as cues in supporting fear conditioning. When the CS+ was a 22 kHz USV or a similar stimulus, rats discriminated based on the principal frequency and/or the temporal pattern of the stimulus. However, when these same stimuli served as the CS−, discrimination failed due to generalization from the CS+. Thus, the stimuli differed markedly in the specificity of conditioning. This strikingly asymmetrical stimulus generalization is a novel bias in discrimination. PMID:18434217

  4. Predicting aversive events and terminating fear in the mouse anterior cingulate cortex during trace fear conditioning.

    PubMed

    Steenland, Hendrik W; Li, Xiang-Yao; Zhuo, Min

    2012-01-18

    A variety of studies have implicated the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in fear, including permanent storage of fear memory. Recent pharmacological and genetic studies indicate that early synaptic plasticity in the ACC may also contribute to certain forms of fear memory at early time points. However, no study has directly examined the possible changes in neuronal activity of ACC neurons in freely behaving mice during early learning. In the present study, we examined the neural responses of the ACC during trace fear conditioning. We found that ACC putative pyramidal and nonpyramidal neurons were involved in the termination of fear behavior ("un-freezing"), and the spike activity of these neurons was reduced during freezing. Some of the neurons were also found to acquire un-freezing locked activity and change their tuning. The results implicate the ACC neurons in fear learning and controlling the abolition of fear behavior. We also show that the ACC is important for making cue-related fear memory associations in the trace fear paradigm as measured with tone-evoked potentials and single-unit activity. Collectively, our findings indicate that the ACC is involved in predicting future aversive events and terminating fear during trace fear. PMID:22262906

  5. Cannabinoid facilitation of fear extinction memory recall in humans

    PubMed Central

    Rabinak, Christine A.; Angstadt, Mike; Sripada, Chandra S.; Abelson, James L.; Liberzon, Israel; Milad, Mohammed R.; Phan, K. Luan

    2012-01-01

    A first-line approach to treat anxiety disorders is exposure-based therapy, which relies on extinction processes such as repeatedly exposing the patient to stimuli (conditioned stimuli; CS) associated with the traumatic, fear-related memory. However, a significant number of patients fail to maintain their gains, partly attributed to the fact that this inhibitory learning and its maintenance is temporary and conditioned fear responses can return. Animal studies have shown that activation of the cannabinoid system during extinction learning enhances fear extinction and its retention. Specifically, CB1 receptor agonists, such as Δ9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), can facilitate extinction recall by preventing recovery of extinguished fear in rats. However, this phenomenon has not been investigated in humans. We conducted a study using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, between-subjects design, coupling a standard Pavlovian fear extinction paradigm and simultaneous skin conductance response (SCR) recording with an acute pharmacological challenge with oral dronabinol (synthetic THC) or placebo (PBO) 2 hours prior to extinction learning in 29 healthy adult volunteers (THC = 14; PBO = 15) and tested extinction retention 24 hours after extinction learning. Compared to subjects that received PBO, subjects that received THC showed low SCR to a previously extinguished CS when extinction memory recall was tested 24 hours after extinction learning, suggesting that THC prevented the recovery of fear. These results provide the first evidence that pharmacological enhancement of extinction learning is feasible in humans using cannabinoid system modulators, which may thus warrant further development and clinical testing. PMID:22796109

  6. Memory consolidation of fear conditioning: bi-stable amygdala connectivity with dorsal anterior cingulate and medial prefrontal cortex.

    PubMed

    Feng, Pan; Feng, Tingyong; Chen, Zhencai; Lei, Xu

    2014-11-01

    Investigations of fear conditioning in rodents and humans have illuminated the neural mechanisms of fear acquisition and extinction. However, the neural mechanism of memory consolidation of fear conditioning is not well understood. To address this question, we measured brain activity and the changes in functional connectivity following fear acquisition using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. The amygdala-dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and hippocampus-insula functional connectivity were enhanced, whereas the amygdala-medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) functional coupling was decreased during fear memory consolidation. Furthermore, the amygdala-mPFC functional connectivity was negatively correlated with the subjective fear ratings. These findings suggest the amygdala functional connectivity with dACC and mPFC may play an important role in memory consolidation of fear conditioning. The change of amygdala-mPFC functional connectivity could predict the subjective fear. Accordingly, this study provides a new perspective for understanding fear memory consolidation. PMID:24194579

  7. Memory consolidation of fear conditioning: Bi-stable amygdala connectivity with dorsal anterior cingulate and medial prefrontal cortex

    PubMed Central

    Feng, Pan; Chen, Zhencai; Lei, Xu

    2014-01-01

    Investigations of fear conditioning in rodents and humans have illuminated the neural mechanisms of fear acquisition and extinction. However, the neural mechanism of memory consolidation of fear conditioning is not well understood. To address this question, we measured brain activity and the changes in functional connectivity following fear acquisition using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. The amygdala–dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and hippocampus–insula functional connectivity were enhanced, whereas the amygdala–medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) functional coupling was decreased during fear memory consolidation. Furthermore, the amygdala–mPFC functional connectivity was negatively correlated with the subjective fear ratings. These findings suggest the amygdala functional connectivity with dACC and mPFC may play an important role in memory consolidation of fear conditioning. The change of amygdala-mPFC functional connectivity could predict the subjective fear. Accordingly, this study provides a new perspective for understanding fear memory consolidation. PMID:24194579

  8. Systemic Blockade of D2-Like Dopamine Receptors Facilitates Extinction of Conditioned Fear in Mice

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Ponnusamy, Ravikumar; Nissim, Helen A.; Barad, Mark

    2005-01-01

    Extinction of conditioned fear in animals is the explicit model of behavior therapy for human anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Based on previous data indicating that fear extinction in rats is blocked by quinpirole, an agonist of dopamine D2 receptors, we hypothesized…

  9. Revealing Context-Specific Conditioned Fear Memories with Full Immersion Virtual Reality

    PubMed Central

    Huff, Nicole C.; Hernandez, Jose Alba; Fecteau, Matthew E.; Zielinski, David J.; Brady, Rachael; LaBar, Kevin S.

    2011-01-01

    The extinction of conditioned fear is known to be context-specific and is often considered more contextually bound than the fear memory itself (Bouton, 2004). Yet, recent findings in rodents have challenged the notion that contextual fear retention is initially generalized. The context-specificity of a cued fear memory to the learning context has not been addressed in the human literature largely due to limitations in methodology. Here we adapt a novel technology to test the context-specificity of cued fear conditioning using full immersion 3-D virtual reality (VR). During acquisition training, healthy participants navigated through virtual environments containing dynamic snake and spider conditioned stimuli (CSs), one of which was paired with electrical wrist stimulation. During a 24-h delayed retention test, one group returned to the same context as acquisition training whereas another group experienced the CSs in a novel context. Unconditioned stimulus expectancy ratings were assayed on-line during fear acquisition as an index of contingency awareness. Skin conductance responses time-locked to CS onset were the dependent measure of cued fear, and skin conductance levels during the interstimulus interval were an index of context fear. Findings indicate that early in acquisition training, participants express contingency awareness as well as differential contextual fear, whereas differential cued fear emerged later in acquisition. During the retention test, differential cued fear retention was enhanced in the group who returned to the same context as acquisition training relative to the context shift group. The results extend recent rodent work to illustrate differences in cued and context fear acquisition and the contextual specificity of recent fear memories. Findings support the use of full immersion VR as a novel tool in cognitive neuroscience to bridge rodent models of contextual phenomena underlying human clinical disorders. PMID:22069384

  10. Altered resting-state brain activity at functional MRI during automatic memory consolidation of fear conditioning.

    PubMed

    Feng, Tingyong; Feng, Pan; Chen, Zhencai

    2013-07-26

    Investigations of fear conditioning in rodents and humans have illuminated the neural mechanisms of fear acquisition and extinction. However, the neural mechanism of automatic memory consolidation of fear conditioning is still unclear. To address this question, we measured brain activity following fear acquisition using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI). In the current study, we used a marker of fMRI, amplitude of low-frequency (0.01-0.08Hz) fluctuation (ALFF) to quantify the spontaneous brain activity. Brain activity correlated to fear memory consolidation was observed in parahippocampus, insula, and thalamus in resting-state. Furthermore, after acquired fear conditioning, compared with control group some brain areas showed ALFF increased in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in the experimental group, whereas some brain areas showed decreased ALFF in striatal regions (caudate, putamen). Moreover, the change of ALFF in vmPFC was positively correlated with the subjective fear ratings. These findings suggest that the parahippocampus, insula, and thalamus are the neural substrates of fear memory consolidation. The difference in activity could be attributed to a homeostatic process in which the vmPFC and ACC were involved in the fear recovery process, and change of ALFF in vmPFC predicts subjective fear ratings. PMID:23726994

  11. Fears lessen for human BSE.

    PubMed

    Gross, Michael

    2005-02-01

    Alarm bells rang eight years ago with the evidence that mad cow disease could pass from cows to humans via the food chain. But new research suggests that the disease, although still a problem in a number of countries, will have a limited effect on the human population. PMID:15694288

  12. Cotinine enhances the extinction of contextual fear memory and reduces anxiety after fear conditioning.

    PubMed

    Zeitlin, Ross; Patel, Sagar; Solomon, Rosalynn; Tran, John; Weeber, Edwin J; Echeverria, Valentina

    2012-03-17

    Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder triggered by traumatic events. Symptoms include anxiety, depression and deficits in fear memory extinction (FE). PTSD patients show a higher prevalence of cigarette smoking than the general population. The present study investigated the effects of cotinine, a tobacco-derived compound, over anxiety and contextual fear memory after fear conditioning (FC) in mice, a model for inducing PTSD-like symptoms. Two-month-old C57BL/6J mice were separated into three experimental groups. These groups were used to investigate the effect of pretreatment with cotinine on contextual fear memory and posttreatment on extinction and stability or retrievability of the fear memory. Also, changes induced by cotinine on the expression of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 were assessed after extinction in the hippocampus. An increase in anxiety and corticosterone levels were found after fear conditioning. Cotinine did not affect corticosterone levels but enhanced the extinction of contextual fear, decreased anxiety and the stability and/or retrievability of contextual fear memory. Cotinine-treated mice showed higher levels of the active forms of ERK1/2 than vehicle-treated mice after FC. This evidence suggests that cotinine is a potential new pharmacological treatment to reduce symptoms in individuals with PTSD. PMID:22137886

  13. Specific phobia: a disorder of fear conditioning and extinction.

    PubMed

    Stein, Dan J; Matsunaga, Hisato

    2006-04-01

    Specific phobia is the most prevalent of the anxiety disorders. Although there have been relatively few studies of its psychobiology and pharmacotherapy, there is a rich laboratory of literature on fear conditioning and extinction and a clear evolutionary perspective. Advances in the cognitive-affective neuroscience of fear processing may ultimately lead to new approaches to the clinical management of phobias. PMID:16641829

  14. Cannabinoid facilitation of fear extinction memory recall in humans.

    PubMed

    Rabinak, Christine A; Angstadt, Mike; Sripada, Chandra S; Abelson, James L; Liberzon, Israel; Milad, Mohammed R; Phan, K Luan

    2013-01-01

    A first-line approach to treat anxiety disorders is exposure-based therapy, which relies on extinction processes such as repeatedly exposing the patient to stimuli (conditioned stimuli; CS) associated with the traumatic, fear-related memory. However, a significant number of patients fail to maintain their gains, partly attributed to the fact that this inhibitory learning and its maintenance is temporary and conditioned fear responses can return. Animal studies have shown that activation of the cannabinoid system during extinction learning enhances fear extinction and its retention. Specifically, CB1 receptor agonists, such as Δ9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), can facilitate extinction recall by preventing recovery of extinguished fear in rats. However, this phenomenon has not been investigated in humans. We conducted a study using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, between-subjects design, coupling a standard Pavlovian fear extinction paradigm and simultaneous skin conductance response (SCR) recording with an acute pharmacological challenge with oral dronabinol (synthetic THC) or placebo (PBO) 2 h prior to extinction learning in 29 healthy adult volunteers (THC = 14; PBO = 15) and tested extinction retention 24 h after extinction learning. Compared to subjects that received PBO, subjects that received THC showed low SCR to a previously extinguished CS when extinction memory recall was tested 24 h after extinction learning, suggesting that THC prevented the recovery of fear. These results provide the first evidence that pharmacological enhancement of extinction learning is feasible in humans using cannabinoid system modulators, which may thus warrant further development and clinical testing. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Cognitive Enhancers'. PMID:22796109

  15. Sleep Promotes Generalization of Extinction of Conditioned Fear

    PubMed Central

    Pace-Schott, Edward F.; Milad, Mohammed R.; Orr, Scott P.; Rauch, Scott L.; Stickgold, Robert; Pitman, Roger K.

    2009-01-01

    Study Objective: To examine the effects of sleep on fear conditioning, extinction, extinction recall, and generalization of extinction recall in healthy humans. Design: During the Conditioning phase, a mild, 0.5-sec shock followed conditioned stimuli (CS+s), which consisted of 2 differently colored lamps. A third lamp color was interspersed but never reinforced (CS-). Immediately after Conditioning, one CS+ was extinguished (CS+E) by presentation without shocks (Extinction phase). The other CS+ went unextinguished (CS+U). Twelve hours later, following continuous normal daytime waking (Wake group, N = 27) or an equal interval containing a normal night's sleep (Sleep group, N = 26), conditioned responses (CRs) to all CSs were measured (Extinction Recall phase). It was hypothesized that the Sleep versus Wake group would show greater extinction recall and/or generalization of extinction recall from the CS+E to the CS+U. Setting: Academic medical center. Subjects: Paid normal volunteers. Measurements and Results: Square-root transformed skin conductance response (SCR) measured conditioned responding. During Extinction Recall, the Group (Wake or Sleep) × CS+ Type (CS+E or CS+U) interaction was significant (P = 0.04). SCRs to the CS+E did not differ between groups, whereas SCRs to the CS+U were significantly smaller in the Sleep group. Additionally, SCRs were significantly larger to the CS+U than CS+E in the Wake but not the Sleep group. Conclusions: After sleep, extinction memory generalized from an extinguished conditioned stimulus to a similarly conditioned but unextinguished stimulus. Clinically, adequate sleep may promote generalization of extinction memory from specific stimuli treated during exposure therapy to similar stimuli later encountered in vivo. Citation: Pace-Schott EF; Milad MR; Orr SP; Rauch SL; Stickgold R; Pitman RK. Sleep promotes generalization of extinction of conditioned fear. SLEEP 2009;32(1):19-26. PMID:19189775

  16. The Role of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex in the Conditioning and Extinction of Fear

    PubMed Central

    Giustino, Thomas F.; Maren, Stephen

    2015-01-01

    Once acquired, a fearful memory can persist for a lifetime. Although learned fear can be extinguished, extinction memories are fragile. The resilience of fear memories to extinction may contribute to the maintenance of disorders of fear and anxiety, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As such, considerable effort has been placed on understanding the neural circuitry underlying the acquisition, expression, and extinction of emotional memories in rodent models as well as in humans. A triad of brain regions, including the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala, form an essential brain circuit involved in fear conditioning and extinction. Within this circuit, the prefrontal cortex is thought to exert top-down control over subcortical structures to regulate appropriate behavioral responses. Importantly, a division of labor has been proposed in which the prelimbic (PL) and infralimbic (IL) subdivisions of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) regulate the expression and suppression of fear in rodents, respectively. Here, we critically review the anatomical and physiological evidence that has led to this proposed dichotomy of function within mPFC. We propose that under some conditions, the PL and IL act in concert, exhibiting similar patterns of neural activity in response to aversive conditioned stimuli and during the expression or inhibition of conditioned fear. This may stem from common synaptic inputs, parallel downstream outputs, or cortico-cortical interactions. Despite this functional covariation, these mPFC subdivisions may still be coding for largely opposing behavioral outcomes, with PL biased towards fear expression and IL towards suppression. PMID:26617500

  17. The Role of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex in the Conditioning and Extinction of Fear.

    PubMed

    Giustino, Thomas F; Maren, Stephen

    2015-01-01

    Once acquired, a fearful memory can persist for a lifetime. Although learned fear can be extinguished, extinction memories are fragile. The resilience of fear memories to extinction may contribute to the maintenance of disorders of fear and anxiety, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As such, considerable effort has been placed on understanding the neural circuitry underlying the acquisition, expression, and extinction of emotional memories in rodent models as well as in humans. A triad of brain regions, including the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala, form an essential brain circuit involved in fear conditioning and extinction. Within this circuit, the prefrontal cortex is thought to exert top-down control over subcortical structures to regulate appropriate behavioral responses. Importantly, a division of labor has been proposed in which the prelimbic (PL) and infralimbic (IL) subdivisions of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) regulate the expression and suppression of fear in rodents, respectively. Here, we critically review the anatomical and physiological evidence that has led to this proposed dichotomy of function within mPFC. We propose that under some conditions, the PL and IL act in concert, exhibiting similar patterns of neural activity in response to aversive conditioned stimuli and during the expression or inhibition of conditioned fear. This may stem from common synaptic inputs, parallel downstream outputs, or cortico-cortical interactions. Despite this functional covariation, these mPFC subdivisions may still be coding for largely opposing behavioral outcomes, with PL biased towards fear expression and IL towards suppression. PMID:26617500

  18. Controlled cortical impact before or after fear conditioning does not affect fear extinction in mice.

    PubMed

    Sierra-Mercado, Demetrio; McAllister, Lauren M; Lee, Christopher C H; Milad, Mohammed R; Eskandar, Emad N; Whalen, Michael J

    2015-05-01

    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized in part by impaired extinction of conditioned fear. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is thought to be a risk factor for development of PTSD. We tested the hypothesis that controlled cortical impact (CCI) would impair extinction of fear learned by Pavlovian conditioning, in mice. To mimic the scenarios in which TBI occurs prior to or after exposure to an aversive event, severe CCI was delivered to the left parietal cortex at one of two time points: (1) Prior to fear conditioning, or (2) after conditioning. Delay auditory conditioning was achieved by pairing a tone with a foot shock in "context A". Extinction training involved the presentation of tones in a different context (context B) in the absence of foot shock. Test for extinction memory was achieved by presentation of additional tones alone in context B over the following two days. In pre- or post-injury paradigms, CCI did not influence fear learning and extinction. Furthermore, CCI did not affect locomotor activity or elevated plus maze testing. Our results demonstrate that, within the time frame studied, CCI does not impair the acquisition and expression of conditioned fear or extinction memory. PMID:25721797

  19. Controlled cortical impact before or after fear conditioning does not affect fear extinction in mice

    PubMed Central

    Sierra-Mercado, Demetrio; McAllister, Lauren M.; Lee, Christopher C.H.; Milad, Mohammed R.; Eskandar, Emad N.; Whalen, Michael J.

    2015-01-01

    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized in part by impaired extinction of conditioned fear. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is thought to be a risk factor for development of PTSD. We tested the hypothesis that controlled cortical impact (CCI) would impair extinction of fear learned by Pavlovian conditioning, in mice. To mimic the scenarios in which TBI occurs prior to or after exposure to an aversive event, severe CCI was delivered to the left parietal cortex at one of two time points: (1) Prior to fear conditioning, or (2) after conditioning. Delay auditory conditioning was achieved by pairing a tone with a foot shock in “context A”. Extinction training involved the presentation of tones in a different context (context B) in the absence of foot shock. Test for extinction memory was achieved by presentation of additional tones alone in context B over the following two days. In pre- or post-injury paradigms, CCI did not influence fear learning and extinction. Furthermore, CCI did not affect locomotor activity or elevated plus maze testing. Our results demonstrate that, within the time frame studied, CCI does not impair the acquisition and expression of conditioned fear or extinction memory. PMID:25721797

  20. Sex differences in conditioned stimulus discrimination during context-dependent fear learning and its retrieval in humans: the role of biological sex, contraceptives and menstrual cycle phases

    PubMed Central

    Lonsdorf, Tina B.; Haaker, Jan; Schümann, Dirk; Sommer, Tobias; Bayer, Janine; Brassen, Stefanie; Bunzeck, Nico; Gamer, Matthias; Kalisch, Raffael

    2015-01-01

    Background Anxiety disorders are more prevalent in women than in men. Despite this sexual dimorphism, most experimental studies are conducted in male participants, and studies focusing on sex differences are sparse. In addition, the role of hormonal contraceptives and menstrual cycle phase in fear conditioning and extinction processes remain largely unknown. Methods We investigated sex differences in context-dependent fear acquisition and extinction (day 1) and their retrieval/expression (day 2). Skin conductance responses (SCRs), fear and unconditioned stimulus expectancy ratings were obtained. Results We included 377 individuals (261 women) in our study. Robust sex differences were observed in all dependent measures. Women generally displayed higher subjective ratings but smaller SCRs than men and showed reduced excitatory/inhibitory conditioned stimulus (CS+/CS−) discrimination in all dependent measures. Furthermore, women using hormonal contraceptives showed reduced SCR CS discrimination on day 2 than men and free-cycling women, while menstrual cycle phase had no effect. Limitations Possible limitations include the simultaneous testing of up to 4 participants in cubicles, which might have introduced a social component, and not assessing postexperimental contingency awareness. Conclusion The response pattern in women shows striking similarity to previously reported sex differences in patients with anxiety. Our results suggest that pronounced deficits in associative discrimination learning and subjective expression of safety information (CS− responses) might underlie higher prevalence and higher symptom rates seen in women with anxiety disorders. The data call for consideration of biological sex and hormonal contraceptive use in future studies and may suggest that targeting inhibitory learning during therapy might aid precision medicine. PMID:26107163

  1. Passive Avoidance Is Linked to Impaired Fear Extinction in Humans

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Cornwell, Brian R.; Overstreet, Cassie; Krimsky, Marissa; Grillon, Christian

    2013-01-01

    Conventional wisdom dictates we must face our fears to conquer them. This idea is embodied in exposure-based treatments for anxiety disorders, where the intent of exposure is to reverse a history of avoidant behavior that is thought to fuel a patient's irrational fears. We tested in humans the relationship between fear and avoidance by combining…

  2. Psychopaths Show Enhanced Amygdala Activation during Fear Conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Schultz, Douglas H.; Balderston, Nicholas L.; Baskin-Sommers, Arielle R.; Larson, Christine L.; Helmstetter, Fred J.

    2016-01-01

    Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by emotional deficits and a failure to inhibit impulsive behavior and is often subdivided into “primary” and “secondary” psychopathic subtypes. The maladaptive behavior related to primary psychopathy is thought to reflect constitutional “fearlessness,” while the problematic behavior related to secondary psychopathy is motivated by other factors. The fearlessness observed in psychopathy has often been interpreted as reflecting a fundamental deficit in amygdala function, and previous studies have provided support for a low-fear model of psychopathy. However, many of these studies fail to use appropriate screening procedures, use liberal inclusion criteria, or have used unconventional approaches to assay amygdala function. We measured brain activity with BOLD imaging in primary and secondary psychopaths and non-psychopathic control subjects during Pavlovian fear conditioning. In contrast to the low-fear model, we observed normal fear expression in primary psychopaths. Psychopaths also displayed greater differential BOLD activity in the amygdala relative to matched controls. Inverse patterns of activity were observed in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) for primary versus secondary psychopaths. Primary psychopaths exhibited a pattern of activity in the dorsal and ventral ACC consistent with enhanced fear expression, while secondary psychopaths exhibited a pattern of activity in these regions consistent with fear inhibition. These results contradict the low-fear model of psychopathy and suggest that the low fear observed for psychopaths in previous studies may be specific to secondary psychopaths. PMID:27014154

  3. Adrenal-dependent diurnal modulation of conditioned fear extinction learning

    PubMed Central

    Woodruff, Elizabeth R.; Greenwood, Benjamin N.; Chun, Lauren E.; Fardi, Sara; Hinds, Laura R.; Spencer, Robert L.

    2015-01-01

    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is associated with altered conditioned fear extinction expression and impaired circadian function including dysregulation of glucocorticoid hormone secretion. We examined in adult male rats the relationship between conditioned fear extinction learning, circadian phase, and endogenous glucocorticoids (CORT). Rats maintained on a 12 hr light:dark cycle were trained and tested across 3 separate daily sessions (conditioned fear acquisition and 2 extinction sessions) that were administered during either the rats’ active or inactive circadian phase. In an initial experiment we found that rats at both circadian phases acquired and extinguished auditory cue conditioned fear to a similar degree in the first extinction session. However, rats trained and tested at zeitgeber time-16 (ZT16) (active phase) showed enhanced extinction memory expression during the second extinction session compared to rats trained and tested at ZT4 (inactive phase). In a follow-up experiment, adrenalectomized (ADX) or sham surgery rats were similarly trained and tested across 3 separate daily sessions at either ZT4 or ZT16. ADX had no effect on conditioned fear acquisition or conditioned fear memory. Sham ADX rats trained and tested at ZT16 exhibited better extinction learning across the two extinction sessions compared to all other groups of rats. These results indicate that conditioned fear extinction learning is modulated by time of day, and this diurnal modulation requires the presence of adrenal hormones. These results support an important role of CORT-dependent circadian processes in regulating conditioned fear extinction learning, which may be capitalized upon to optimize effective treatment of PTSD. PMID:25746455

  4. Noradrenergic Blockade of Memory Reconsolidation: A Failure to Reduce Conditioned Fear Responding

    PubMed Central

    Bos, Marieke Geerte Nynke; Beckers, Tom; Kindt, Merel

    2014-01-01

    Upon recall, a memory can enter a labile state in which it requires new protein synthesis to restabilize. This two-phased reconsolidation process raises the prospect to directly target excessive fear memory as opposed to the formation of inhibitory memory following extinction training. In our previous studies, we convincingly demonstrated that 40 mg propranolol HCl administration before or after memory reactivation eliminated the emotional expression of fear memory indexed by the fear potentiated startle reflex. To apply this procedure in clinical practice it is important to understand the optimal and boundary conditions of this procedure. As part of a large project aimed at unraveling putative boundary conditions of disrupting reconsolidation of associative fear memory with propranolol HCl, we again tested our memory reconsolidation procedure. Participants (N = 44) underwent a three-day differential fear conditioning procedure. Twenty-four hours after fear acquisition, participants received 40 mg propranolol HCl prior to memory reactivation. The next day, participants were subjected to extinction training and reinstatement testing. In sharp contrast to our previous findings, propranolol HCl before memory reactivation did not attenuate the startle fear response. Remarkably, the startle fear response even persisted during extinction training and did not show the usually observed gradual decline in conditioned physiological responding (startle potentiation and skin conductance) upon repeated unreinforced trials. We discuss these unexpected findings and propose some potential explanations. It remains, however, unclear why we observed a resistance to reduce conditioned fear responding by either disrupting reconsolidation or extinction training. The present results underscore that the success of human fear conditioning research may depend on subtle manipulations and instructions. PMID:25506319

  5. Social buffering ameliorates conditioned fear responses in female rats.

    PubMed

    Ishii, Akiko; Kiyokawa, Yasushi; Takeuchi, Yukari; Mori, Yuji

    2016-05-01

    The stress experienced by an animal is ameliorated when the animal is exposed to distressing stimuli along with a conspecific animal(s). This is known as social buffering. Previously, we found that the presence of an unfamiliar male rat induced social buffering and ameliorated conditioned fear responses of a male rat subjected to an auditory conditioned stimulus (CS). However, because our knowledge of social buffering is highly biased towards findings in male subjects, analyses using female subjects are crucial for comprehensively understanding the social buffering phenomenon. In the present studies, we assessed social buffering of conditioned fear responses in female rats. We found that the estrus cycle did not affect the intensity of the rats' fear responses to the CS or their degree of vigilance due to the presence of a conspecific animal. Based on these findings, we then assessed whether social buffering ameliorated conditioned fear responses in female rats without taking into account their estrus cycles. When fear conditioned female rats were exposed to the CS without the presence of a conspecific, they exhibited behavioral responses, including freezing, and elevated corticosterone levels. By contrast, the presence of an unfamiliar female rat suppressed these responses. Based on these findings, we conclude that social buffering can ameliorate conditioned fear responses in female rats. PMID:27060333

  6. Failure to extinguish fear and genetic variability in the human cannabinoid receptor 1.

    PubMed

    Heitland, I; Klumpers, F; Oosting, R S; Evers, D J J; Leon Kenemans, J; Baas, J M P

    2012-01-01

    Failure to extinguish fear can lead to persevering anxiety and has been postulated as an important mechanism in the pathogenesis of human anxiety disorders. In animals, it is well documented that the endogenous cannabinoid system has a pivotal role in the successful extinction of fear, most importantly through the cannabinoid receptor 1. However, no human studies have reported a translation of this preclinical evidence yet. Healthy medication-free human subjects (N=150) underwent a fear conditioning and extinction procedure in a virtual reality environment. Fear potentiation of the eyeblink startle reflex was measured to assess fear-conditioned responding, and subjective fear ratings were collected. Participants were genotyped for two polymorphisms located within the promoter region (rs2180619) and the coding region (rs1049353) of cannabinoid receptor 1. As predicted from the preclinical literature, acquisition and expression of conditioned fear did not differ between genotypes. Crucially, whereas both homozygote (G/G, N=23) and heterozygote (A/G, N=68) G-allele carriers of rs2180619 displayed robust extinction of fear, extinction of fear-potentiated startle was absent in A/A homozygotes (N=51). Additionally, this resistance to extinguish fear left A/A carriers of rs2180619 with significantly higher levels of fear-potentiated startle at the end of the extinction training. No effects of rs1049353 genotype were observed regarding fear acquisition and extinction. These results suggest for the first time involvement of the human endocannabinoid system in fear extinction. Implications are that genetic variability in this system may underlie individual differences in anxiety, rendering cannabinoid receptor 1 a potential target for novel pharmacological treatments of anxiety disorders. PMID:23010766

  7. Extract of Ginkgo biloba EGb 761 facilitates fear conditioning measured by fear-potentiated startle.

    PubMed

    Yang, Yi-Ling; Su, Ya-Wen; Ng, Ming-Chong; Chang, Chai-Lun; Lu, Kwok-Tung

    Extract of Ginkgo biloba EGb 761 has been used in the treatment of various common geriatric complaints including vertigo, short-term memory loss, hearing loss, lack of attention, vigilance and cerebral vascular disorder. Recent results suggest that it can serve as a cognitive enhancer and anti-stress buffer. It raises a possibility that EGb 761 may be involved in the fear conditioning. In this study, we used fear-potentiated startle (FPS) to evaluate the possible effects of EGb 761 on the acquisition stage of fear conditioning. Our results showed that administration of EGb 761 30 min prior to the conditioning facilitated acquisition of conditioned fear in a dose dependent manner. No significant differences had been observed in either basal startle response or shock activity. These results indicated that the facilitation effect of EGb 761 was not the result of impaired basal startle response or enhanced pain perception. Subsequent control experiment results indicated that the facilitation effect of EGb 761 on the acquisition was not due to anxiogenic effect or non-specific effect. Our data present the first evidence that EGb 761 can enhance fear memory formation rather than serve as an anti-stress buffer. PMID:15936528

  8. The influence of acute stress on the regulation of conditioned fear

    PubMed Central

    Raio, Candace M.; Phelps, Elizabeth A.

    2014-01-01

    Fear learning and regulation is a prominent model for describing the pathogenesis of anxiety disorders and stress-related psychopathology. Fear expression can be modulated using a number of regulatory strategies, including extinction, cognitive emotion regulation, avoidance strategies and reconsolidation. In this review, we examine research investigating the effects of acute stress and stress hormones on these regulatory techniques. We focus on what is known about the impact of stress on the ability to flexibly regulate fear responses that are acquired through Pavlovian fear conditioning. Our primary aim is to explore the impact of stress on fear regulation in humans. Given this, we focus on techniques where stress has been linked to alterations of fear regulation in humans (extinction and emotion regulation), and briefly discuss other techniques (avoidance and reconsolidation) where the impact of stress or stress hormones have been mainly explored in animal models. These investigations reveal that acute stress may impair the persistent inhibition of fear, presumably by altering prefrontal cortex function. Characterizing the effects of stress on fear regulation is critical for understanding the boundaries within which existing regulation strategies are viable in everyday life and can better inform treatment options for those who suffer from anxiety and stress-related psychopathology. PMID:25530986

  9. Sound tuning of amygdala plasticity in auditory fear conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Park, Sungmo; Lee, Junuk; Park, Kyungjoon; Kim, Jeongyeon; Song, Beomjong; Hong, Ingie; Kim, Jieun; Lee, Sukwon; Choi, Sukwoo

    2016-01-01

    Various auditory tones have been used as conditioned stimuli (CS) for fear conditioning, but researchers have largely neglected the effect that different types of auditory tones may have on fear memory processing. Here, we report that at lateral amygdala (LA) synapses (a storage site for fear memory), conditioning with different types of auditory CSs (2.8 kHz tone, white noise, FM tone) recruits distinct forms of long-term potentiation (LTP) and inserts calcium permeable AMPA receptor (CP-AMPAR) for variable periods. White noise or FM tone conditioning produced brief insertion (<6 hr after conditioning) of CP-AMPARs, whereas 2.8 kHz tone conditioning induced more persistent insertion (≥6 hr). Consistently, conditioned fear to 2.8 kHz tone but not to white noise or FM tones was erased by reconsolidation-update (which depends on the insertion of CP-AMPARs at LA synapses) when it was performed 6 hr after conditioning. Our data suggest that conditioning with different auditory CSs recruits distinct forms of LA synaptic plasticity, resulting in more malleable fear memory to some tones than to others. PMID:27488731

  10. Sound tuning of amygdala plasticity in auditory fear conditioning.

    PubMed

    Park, Sungmo; Lee, Junuk; Park, Kyungjoon; Kim, Jeongyeon; Song, Beomjong; Hong, Ingie; Kim, Jieun; Lee, Sukwon; Choi, Sukwoo

    2016-01-01

    Various auditory tones have been used as conditioned stimuli (CS) for fear conditioning, but researchers have largely neglected the effect that different types of auditory tones may have on fear memory processing. Here, we report that at lateral amygdala (LA) synapses (a storage site for fear memory), conditioning with different types of auditory CSs (2.8 kHz tone, white noise, FM tone) recruits distinct forms of long-term potentiation (LTP) and inserts calcium permeable AMPA receptor (CP-AMPAR) for variable periods. White noise or FM tone conditioning produced brief insertion (<6 hr after conditioning) of CP-AMPARs, whereas 2.8 kHz tone conditioning induced more persistent insertion (≥6 hr). Consistently, conditioned fear to 2.8 kHz tone but not to white noise or FM tones was erased by reconsolidation-update (which depends on the insertion of CP-AMPARs at LA synapses) when it was performed 6 hr after conditioning. Our data suggest that conditioning with different auditory CSs recruits distinct forms of LA synaptic plasticity, resulting in more malleable fear memory to some tones than to others. PMID:27488731

  11. An Appetitive Conditioned Stimulus Enhances Fear Acquisition and Impairs Fear Extinction

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Leung, Hiu T.; Holmes, Nathan M.; Westbrook, R. Frederick

    2016-01-01

    Four experiments used between- and within-subject designs to examine appetitive-aversive interactions in rats. Experiments 1 and 2 examined the effect of an excitatory appetitive conditioned stimulus (CS) on acquisition and extinction of conditioned fear. In Experiment 1, a CS shocked in a compound with an appetitive excitor (i.e., a stimulus…

  12. Incubation of conditioned fear in the conditioned suppression model in rats: role of food-restriction conditions, length of conditioned stimulus, and generality to conditioned freezing

    PubMed Central

    Pickens, Charles L.; Navarre, Brittany M.; Nair, Sunila G.

    2010-01-01

    We recently adapted the conditioned suppression of operant responding method to study fear incubation. We found that food-restricted rats show low fear 2 days after extended (10 d; 100 30-sec tone-shock pairings) fear training and high fear after 1–2 months. Here, we studied a potential mechanism of fear incubation: extended food-restriction stress. We also studied whether fear incubation is observed after fear training with a prolonged-duration (6-min) tone conditioned stimulus (CS), and whether conditioned freezing incubates after extended training in rats with or without a concurrent operant task. Conditioned fear was assessed 2 days and 1 month after training. In the conditioned suppression method, fear incubation was reliably observed in rats under moderate food-restriction conditions (18–20 g food/day) that allowed for weight gain, and after extended (10 d), but not limited (1 d), fear training with the 6-min CS. Incubation of conditioned freezing was observed after extended fear training in rats lever-pressing for food and, to a lesser degree, in rats not performing an operant task. Results indicate that prolonged hunger-related stress does not account for fear incubation in the conditioned suppression method, and that fear incubation occurs to a longer-duration (6-min) fear CS. Extended training also leads to robust fear incubation of conditioned freezing in rats performing an operant task and weaker fear incubation in rats not performing an operant task. PMID:20600654

  13. Updating versus Exposure to Prevent Consolidation of Conditioned Fear

    PubMed Central

    Pile, Victoria; Barnhofer, Thorsten; Wild, Jennifer

    2015-01-01

    Targeting the consolidation of fear memories following trauma may offer a promising method for preventing the development of flashbacks and other unwanted re-experiencing symptoms that characterise Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Research has demonstrated that performing visuo-spatial tasks after analogue trauma can block the consolidation of fear memory and reduce the frequency of flashbacks. However, no research has yet used verbal techniques to alter memories during the consolidation window. This is surprising given that the most effective treatments for PTSD are verbally-based with exposure therapy and trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy gaining the most evidence of efficacy. Psychological therapies aim to reduce the conditioned fear response, which is in keeping with the preliminary finding that an increased propensity for fear conditioning may be a vulnerability factor for PTSD. Our research had two aims. We investigated the degree to which individual differences in fear conditioning predict the development of PTSD symptoms. We also compared the preventative effects of two clinically informed psychological techniques administered during the consolidation window: exposure to the trauma memory and updating the meaning of the trauma. 115 healthy participants underwent a fear conditioning paradigm in which traumatic film stimuli (unconditioned stimuli) were paired with neutral stimuli (conditioned stimuli). Participants were randomly allocated to an updating, exposure or control group to compare the effects on the conditioned fear response and on PTSD symptomatology. The results showed that stronger conditioned responses at acquisition significantly predicted the development of PTSD symptoms. The updating group, who verbally devalued the unconditioned stimulus within the consolidation window, experienced significantly lower levels of PTSD symptoms during follow-up than the exposure and control groups. These findings are consistent with clinical

  14. Characterization of fear conditioning and fear extinction by analysis of electrodermal activity.

    PubMed

    Faghih, Rose T; Stokes, Patrick A; Marin, Marie-France; Zsido, Rachel G; Zorowitz, Sam; Rosenbaum, Blake L; Huijin Song; Milad, Mohammed R; Dougherty, Darin D; Eskandar, Emad N; Widge, Alik S; Brown, Emery N; Barbieri, Riccardo

    2015-08-01

    Electrodermal activity (EDA) is a measure of physical arousal, which is frequently measured during psychophysical tasks relevant for anxiety disorders. Recently, specific protocols and procedures have been devised in order to examine the neural mechanisms of fear conditioning and extinction. EDA reflects important responses associated with stimuli specifically administrated during these procedures. Although several previous studies have demonstrated the reproducibility of measures estimated from EDA, a mathematical framework associated with the stimulus-response experiments in question and, at the same time, including the underlying emotional state of the subject during fear conditioning and/or extinction experiments is not well studied. We here propose an ordinary differential equation model based on sudomotor nerve activity, and estimate the fear eliciting stimulus using a compressed sensing algorithm. Our results show that we are able to recover the underlying stimulus (visual cue or mild electrical shock). Moreover, relating the time-delay in the estimated stimulation to the visual cue during extinction period shows that fear level decreases as visual cues are presented without shock, suggesting that this feature might be used to estimate the fear state. These findings indicate that a mathematical model based on electrodermal responses might be critical in defining a low-dimensional representation of essential cognitive features in order to describe dynamic behavioral states. PMID:26738104

  15. Prediction of "Fear" Acquisition in Healthy Control Participants in a De Novo Fear Conditioning Paradigm

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Otto, Michael W.; Leyro, Teresa M.; Christian, Kelly; Deveney, Christen M.; Reese, Hannah; Pollack, Mark H.; Orr, Scott P.

    2007-01-01

    Studies using fear-conditioning paradigms have found that anxiety patients are more conditionable than individuals without these disorders, but these effects have been demonstrated inconsistently. It is unclear whether these findings have etiological significance or whether enhanced conditionability is linked only to certain anxiety…

  16. Topiramate diminishes fear memory consolidation and extinguishes conditioned fear in rats

    PubMed Central

    do Prado-Lima, Pedro Antônio Schmidt; Perrenoud, Myriam Fortes; Kristensen, Christian Haag; Cammarota, Martin; Izquierdo, Ivan

    2011-01-01

    Background Topiramate has been recognized as a drug that can induce memory and cognitive impairment. Using the one-trial inhibitory avoidance task, we sought to verify the effect of topiramate on consolidation and extinction of aversive memory. Our hypothesis was that topiramate inhibits the consolidation and enhances the extinction of this fear memory. Methods In experiment 1, which occured immediately or 3 hours after training, topiramate was administered to rats, and consolidation of memory was verified 18 days after the conditioning session. In experiment 2, which occured 18–22 days after the training session, rats were submitted to the extinction protocol. Rats received topiramate 14 days before or during the extinction protocol. Results Topiramate blocked fear memory retention (p < 0.01) and enhanced fear memory extinction (p < 0.001) only when administered during the extinction protocol. Limitations This experimental design did not allow us to determine whether topiramate also blocked the reconsolidation of fear memory. Conclusion Topiramate diminishes fear memory consolidation and promotes extinction of inhibitory avoidance memory. PMID:21392483

  17. Reprint of: "Demographic factors predict magnitude of conditioned fear".

    PubMed

    Rosenbaum, Blake L; Bui, Eric; Marin, Marie-France; Holt, Daphne J; Lasko, Natasha B; Pitman, Roger K; Orr, Scott P; Milad, Mohammed R

    2015-12-01

    There is substantial variability across individuals in the magnitudes of their skin conductance (SC) responses during the acquisition and extinction of conditioned fear. To manage this variability, subjects may be matched for demographic variables, such as age, gender and education. However, limited data exist addressing how much variability in conditioned SC responses is actually explained by these variables. The present study assessed the influence of age, gender and education on the SC responses of 222 subjects who underwent the same differential conditioning paradigm. The demographic variables were found to predict a small but significant amount of variability in conditioned responding during fear acquisition, but not fear extinction learning or extinction recall. A larger differential change in SC during acquisition was associated with more education. Older participants and women showed smaller differential SC during acquisition. Our findings support the need to consider age, gender and education when studying fear acquisition but not necessarily when examining fear extinction learning and recall. Variability in demographic factors across studies may partially explain the difficulty in reproducing some SC findings. PMID:26608179

  18. The human amygdala and the induction and experience of fear

    PubMed Central

    Feinstein, Justin S.; Adolphs, Ralph; Damasio, Antonio R.; Tranel, Daniel

    2010-01-01

    Summary Although clinical observations suggest that humans with amygdala damage have abnormal fear reactions and a reduced experience of fear [1–3], these impressions have not been systematically investigated. To address this gap, we conducted a new study in a rare human patient, SM, who has focal bilateral amygdala lesions [4]. To provoke fear in SM, we exposed her to live snakes and spiders, took her on a tour of a haunted house, and showed her emotionally evocative films. On no occasion did SM exhibit fear and she never endorsed feeling more than minimal levels of fear. Likewise, across a large battery of self-report questionnaires, three months of real-life experience sampling, and a life history replete with traumatic events, SM repeatedly demonstrated an absence of overt fear manifestations and an overall impoverished experience of fear. Despite her lack of fear, SM is able to exhibit other basic emotions and experience the respective feelings. The findings support the conclusion that the human amygdala plays a pivotal role in triggering a state of fear, and that the absence of such a state precludes the experience of fear itself. PMID:21167712

  19. Sex Differences in Response to an Observational Fear Conditioning Procedure

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Kelly, Megan M.; Forsyth, John P.

    2007-01-01

    The present study evaluated sex differences in observational fear conditioning using modeled ''mock'' panic attacks as an unconditioned stimulus (UCS). Fifty-nine carefully prescreened healthy undergraduate participants (30 women) underwent 3 consecutive differential conditioning phases: habituation, acquisition, and extinction. It was expected…

  20. Adrenergic Transmission Facilitates Extinction of Conditional Fear in Mice

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Barad, Mark; Cain, Christopher K.; Blouin, Ashley M.

    2004-01-01

    Extinction of classically conditioned fear, like its acquisition, is active learning, but little is known about its molecular mechanisms. We recently reported that temporal massing of conditional stimulus (CS) presentations improves extinction memory acquisition, and suggested that temporal spacing was less effective because individual CS…

  1. Glucocorticoids reduce phobic fear in humans

    PubMed Central

    Soravia, Leila M.; Heinrichs, Markus; Aerni, Amanda; Maroni, Caroline; Schelling, Gustav; Ehlert, Ulrike; Roozendaal, Benno; de Quervain, Dominique J.-F.

    2006-01-01

    Phobias are characterized by excessive fear, cued by the presence or anticipation of a fearful situation. Whereas it is well established that glucocorticoids are released in fearful situations, it is not known whether these hormones, in turn, modulate perceived fear. As extensive evidence indicates that elevated glucocorticoid levels impair the retrieval of emotionally arousing information, they might also inhibit retrieval of fear memory associated with phobia and, thereby, reduce phobic fear. Here, we investigated whether acutely administrated glucocorticoids reduced phobic fear in two double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in 40 subjects with social phobia and 20 subjects with spider phobia. In the social phobia study, cortisone (25 mg) administered orally 1 h before a socio-evaluative stressor significantly reduced self-reported fear during the anticipation, exposure, and recovery phase of the stressor. Moreover, the stress-induced release of cortisol in placebo-treated subjects correlated negatively with fear ratings, suggesting that endogenously released cortisol in the context of a phobic situation buffers fear symptoms. In the spider phobia study, repeated oral administration of cortisol (10 mg), but not placebo, 1 h before exposure to a spider photograph induced a progressive reduction of stimulus-induced fear. This effect was maintained when subjects were exposed to the stimulus again 2 days after the last cortisol administration, suggesting that cortisol may also have facilitated the extinction of phobic fear. Cortisol treatment did not reduce general, phobia-unrelated anxiety. In conclusion, the present findings in two distinct types of phobias indicate that glucocorticoid administration reduces phobic fear. PMID:16567641

  2. Post-weaning Social Isolation Impairs Observational Fear Conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Yusufishaq, Shabana; Rosenkranz, J. Amiel

    2013-01-01

    Many mammals can utilize social information to learn by observation of conspecifics (social learning). Social learning of fear is expected to be especially advantageous for survival. However, disruption of social development in early life can impair social cognition and might also be expected to disrupt social learning. Social isolation during a critical period of adolescence disrupts social development. The purpose of this study was to determine whether disruption of social development through post-weaning social isolation leads to impairments of social fear learning. Rats were reared in isolation or pair-housed from immediately post-weaning, for 3 weeks. Social fear learning in rats was acquired by observation of tone-footshock pairings administered to a conspecific. Isolation-reared rats displayed less conditioned freezing than pair-housed rats when tested the next day. This reduction of conditioned freezing was correlated with conspecific-oriented behaviors during conditioning, was measured despite similarities in demonstrator behaviors, and occurred despite a manipulation that equalized freezing during conditioning between the pair-housed and isolation-reared rats. The results could not be explained by abnormal sensitization to a repeated tone or deficits in freezing or direct fear conditioning. These results demonstrate that observational fear conditioning is impaired by social isolation, and provide a model to study impaired social affective learning. Impaired social cognition, manifested as inability to recognize or appropriately interpret social cues, is a symptom of several psychiatric disorders. Better understanding of the mechanisms of impaired social fear learning can lead to novel treatments for social cognition symptoms of psychiatric disorders. PMID:23295398

  3. Disrupting Reconsolidation of Fear Memory in Humans by a Noradrenergic β-Blocker

    PubMed Central

    Kindt, Merel; Soeter, Marieke; Sevenster, Dieuwke

    2014-01-01

    The basic design used in our human fear-conditioning studies on disrupting reconsolidation includes testing over different phases across three consecutive days. On day 1 - the fear acquisition phase, healthy participants are exposed to a series of picture presentations. One picture stimulus (CS1+) is repeatedly paired with an aversive electric stimulus (US), resulting in the acquisition of a fear association, whereas another picture stimulus (CS2-) is never followed by an US. On day 2 - the memory reactivation phase, the participants are re-exposed to the conditioned stimulus without the US (CS1-), which typically triggers a conditioned fear response. After the memory reactivation we administer an oral dose of 40 mg of propranolol HCl, a β-adrenergic receptor antagonist that indirectly targets the protein synthesis required for reconsolidation by inhibiting the noradrenaline-stimulated CREB phosphorylation. On day 3 - the test phase, the participants are again exposed to the unreinforced conditioned stimuli (CS1- and CS2-) in order to measure the fear-reducing effect of the manipulation. This retention test is followed by an extinction procedure and the presentation of situational triggers to test for the return of fear. Potentiation of the eye blink startle reflex is measured as an index for conditioned fear responding. Declarative knowledge of the fear association is measured through online US expectancy ratings during each CS presentation. In contrast to extinction learning, disrupting reconsolidation targets the original fear memory thereby preventing the return of fear. Although the clinical applications are still in their infancy, disrupting reconsolidation of fear memory seems to be a promising new technique with the prospect to persistently dampen the expression of fear memory in patients suffering from anxiety disorders and other psychiatric disorders. PMID:25549103

  4. Fear conditioning induced by interpersonal conflicts in healthy individuals.

    PubMed

    Tada, Mitsuhiro; Uchida, Hiroyuki; Maeda, Takaki; Konishi, Mika; Umeda, Satoshi; Terasawa, Yuri; Nakajima, Shinichiro; Mimura, Masaru; Miyazaki, Tomoyuki; Takahashi, Takuya

    2015-01-01

    Psychophysiological markers have been focused to investigate the psychopathology of psychiatric disorders and personality subtypes. In order to understand neurobiological mechanisms underlying these conditions, fear-conditioning model has been widely used. However, simple aversive stimuli are too simplistic to understand mechanisms because most patients with psychiatric disorders are affected by social stressors. The objective of this study was to test the feasibility of a newly-designed conditioning experiment using a stimulus to cause interpersonal conflicts and examine associations between personality traits and response to that stimulus. Twenty-nine healthy individuals underwent the fear conditioning and extinction experiments in response to three types of stimuli: a simple aversive sound, disgusting pictures, and pictures of an actors' face with unpleasant verbal messages that were designed to cause interpersonal conflicts. Conditioned response was quantified by the skin conductance response (SCR). Correlations between the SCR changes, and personality traits measured by the Zanarini Rating Scale for Borderline Personality Disorder (ZAN-BPD) and Revised NEO Personality Inventory were explored. The interpersonal conflict stimulus resulted in successful conditioning, which was subsequently extinguished, in a similar manner as the other two stimuli. Moreover, a greater degree of conditioned response to the interpersonal conflict stimulus correlated with a higher ZAN-BPD total score. Fear conditioning and extinction can be successfully achieved, using interpersonal conflicts as a stimulus. Given that conditioned fear caused by the interpersonal conflicts is likely associated with borderline personality traits, this paradigm could contribute to further understanding of underlying mechanisms of interpersonal fear implicated in borderline personality disorder. PMID:25978817

  5. Neurobehavioral mechanisms of human fear generalization

    PubMed Central

    Dunsmoor, Joseph E.; Prince, Steven E.; Murty, Vishnu P.; Kragel, Philip A.; LaBar, Kevin S.

    2011-01-01

    While much research has elucidated the neurobiology of fear learning, the neural systems supporting the generalization of learned fear are unknown. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we show that regions involved in the acquisition of fear support the generalization of fear to stimuli that are similar to a learned threat, but vary in fear intensity value. Behaviorally, subjects retrospectively misidentified a learned threat as a more intense stimulus and expressed greater skin conductance responses (SCR) to generalized stimuli of high intensity. Brain activity related to intensity-based fear generalization was observed in the striatum, insula, thalamus/periacqueductal gray, and subgenual cingulate cortex. The psychophysiological expression of generalized fear correlated with amygdala activity, and connectivity between the amygdala and extrastriate visual cortex was correlated with individual differences in trait anxiety. These findings reveal the brain regions and functional networks involved in flexibly responding to stimuli that resemble a learned threat. These regions may comprise an intensity-based fear generalization circuit that underlies retrospective biases in threat value estimation and overgeneralization of fear in anxiety disorders. PMID:21256233

  6. Ventromedial prefrontal cortex activity and rapid eye movement sleep are associated with subsequent fear expression in human subjects.

    PubMed

    Spoormaker, V I; Gvozdanovic, G A; Sämann, P G; Czisch, M

    2014-05-01

    In humans, activity patterns in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) have been found to be predictive of subsequent fear memory consolidation. Pioneering work in rodents has further shown that vmPFC-amygdala theta synchronization is correlated with fear memory consolidation. We aimed to evaluate whether vmPFC activity during fear conditioning is (1) correlated with fear expression the subsequent day and whether (2) this relationship is mediated by rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. We analyzed data from 17 young healthy subjects undergoing a fear conditioning task, followed by a fear extinction task 24 h later, both recorded with simultaneous skin conductance response (SCR) and functional magnetic resonance imaging measurements, with a polysomnographically recorded night sleep in between. Our results showed a correlation between vmPFC activity during fear conditioning and subsequent REM sleep amount, as well as between REM sleep amount and SCR to the conditioned stimulus 24 h later. Moreover, we observed a significant correlation between vmPFC activity during fear conditioning and SCR responses during extinction, which was no longer significant after controlling for REM sleep amount. vmPFC activity during fear conditioning was further correlated with sleep latency. Interestingly, hippocampus activity during fear conditioning was correlated with stage 2 and stage 4 sleep amount. Our results provide preliminary evidence that the relationship between REM sleep and fear conditioning and extinction observed in rodents can be modeled in healthy human subjects, highlighting an interrelated set of potentially relevant trait markers. PMID:24452776

  7. Delayed extinction fails to reduce skin conductance reactivity to fear-conditioned stimuli.

    PubMed

    Fricchione, Jon; Greenberg, Mark S; Spring, Justin; Wood, Nellie; Mueller-Pfeiffer, Christoph; Milad, Mohammed R; Pitman, Roger K; Orr, Scott P

    2016-09-01

    A brief 10-min time delay between an initial and subsequent exposure to extinction trials has been found to impair memory reconsolidation in fear-conditioned rodents and humans, providing a potential means to reduce fearfulness in anxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The present study used videos of biologically prepared, conditioned stimuli (tarantulas) to test the efficacy of delayed extinction in blocking reconsolidation of conditioned fear in healthy young adults. Strong differential conditioning, measured by skin conductance, was observed among a screened subset of participants during acquisition. However, the delayed-extinction intervention failed to reduce reactivity to the conditioned stimulus paired with the extinction delay. These results are partially consistent with other recent, mixed findings and point to a need for testing other candidate interventions designed to interfere with the reconsolidation process. PMID:27314560

  8. Prereactivation propranolol fails to reduce skin conductance reactivity to prepared fear-conditioned stimuli.

    PubMed

    Spring, Justin D; Wood, Nellie E; Mueller-Pfeiffer, Christoph; Milad, Mohammed R; Pitman, Roger K; Orr, Scott P

    2015-03-01

    Pharmacologic blockade of memory reconsolidation has been demonstrated in fear-conditioned rodents and humans and may provide a means to reduce fearfulness in anxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder. Studying the efficacy of potential interventions in clinical populations is challenging, creating a need for paradigms within which candidate reconsolidation-blocking interventions can be readily tested. We used videos of biologically prepared conditioned stimuli (tarantulas) to test the efficacy of propranolol in blocking reconsolidation of conditioned fear in healthy young adults. Strong differential conditioning, measured by skin conductance, was observed among a screened subset of participants during acquisition. However, subsequent propranolol failed to reduce reactivity to the reactivated conditioned stimulus. These results are consistent with other recent findings and point to a need for testing other candidate drugs. PMID:25224026

  9. Yale University's Institute of Human Relations and the Spanish Civil War: Dollard and Miller's study of fear and courage under battle conditions.

    PubMed

    Gondra, José María; Sánchez de Miguel, Manuel

    2009-11-01

    In the late 1930s, the Institute of Human Relations of Yale University developed a research program on conflict and anxiety as an outcome of Clark Hull's informal seminar on the integration of Freud's and Pavlov's theories. The program was launched at the 1937 Annual Meeting of the APA in a session chaired by Clark L. Hull, and the experiments continued through 1941, when the United States entered the Second World War. In an effort to apply the findings from animal experiments to the war situation, John Dollard and Neal E. Miller decided to study soldiers' fear reactions in combat. As a first step, they arranged interviews with a few veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Taking these interviews as a point of departure, Dollard devised a questionnaire to which 300 former Lincoln brigaders responded. The present paper analyzes the main outcomes of the questionnaire, together with the war experiences reported in the interview transcripts. Our purpose was to evaluate a project which was initially investigated by the FBI because of the communists among the Lincoln ranks, but eventually supported by the American Army, and which exerted great influence on the military psychology of the time. PMID:19899642

  10. Eye Movements Index Implicit Memory Expression in Fear Conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Hopkins, Lauren S.; Schultz, Douglas H.; Hannula, Deborah E.; Helmstetter, Fred J.

    2015-01-01

    The role of contingency awareness in simple associative learning experiments with human participants is currently debated. Since prior work suggests that eye movements can index mnemonic processes that occur without awareness, we used eye tracking to better understand the role of awareness in learning aversive Pavlovian conditioning. A complex real-world scene containing four embedded household items was presented to participants while skin conductance, eye movements, and pupil size were recorded. One item embedded in the scene served as the conditional stimulus (CS). One exemplar of that item (e.g. a white pot) was paired with shock 100 percent of the time (CS+) while a second exemplar (e.g. a gray pot) was never paired with shock (CS-). The remaining items were paired with shock on half of the trials. Participants rated their expectation of receiving a shock during each trial, and these expectancy ratings were used to identify when (i.e. on what trial) each participant became aware of the programmed contingencies. Disproportionate viewing of the CS was found both before and after explicit contingency awareness, and patterns of viewing distinguished the CS+ from the CS-. These observations are consistent with “dual process” models of fear conditioning, as they indicate that learning can be expressed in patterns of viewing prior to explicit contingency awareness. PMID:26562298

  11. Eye Movements Index Implicit Memory Expression in Fear Conditioning.

    PubMed

    Hopkins, Lauren S; Schultz, Douglas H; Hannula, Deborah E; Helmstetter, Fred J

    2015-01-01

    The role of contingency awareness in simple associative learning experiments with human participants is currently debated. Since prior work suggests that eye movements can index mnemonic processes that occur without awareness, we used eye tracking to better understand the role of awareness in learning aversive Pavlovian conditioning. A complex real-world scene containing four embedded household items was presented to participants while skin conductance, eye movements, and pupil size were recorded. One item embedded in the scene served as the conditional stimulus (CS). One exemplar of that item (e.g. a white pot) was paired with shock 100 percent of the time (CS+) while a second exemplar (e.g. a gray pot) was never paired with shock (CS-). The remaining items were paired with shock on half of the trials. Participants rated their expectation of receiving a shock during each trial, and these expectancy ratings were used to identify when (i.e. on what trial) each participant became aware of the programmed contingencies. Disproportionate viewing of the CS was found both before and after explicit contingency awareness, and patterns of viewing distinguished the CS+ from the CS-. These observations are consistent with "dual process" models of fear conditioning, as they indicate that learning can be expressed in patterns of viewing prior to explicit contingency awareness. PMID:26562298

  12. Ethnic Differences in Physiological Responses to Fear Conditioned Stimuli

    PubMed Central

    Martínez, Karen G.; Franco-Chaves, José A.; Milad, Mohammed R.; Quirk, Gregory J.

    2014-01-01

    The idea that emotional expression varies with ethnicity is based largely on questionnaires and behavioral observations rather than physiological measures. We therefore compared the skin conductance responses (SCR) of Hispanic (Puerto Rican) and White non-Hispanic subjects in a fear conditioning and fear extinction task. Subjects were recruited from two sites: San Juan, Puerto Rico (PR), and Boston, Massachusetts (MA), using identical methods. A total of 78 healthy subjects (39 from PR, 39 from MA) were divided by sex and matched for age and educational level. Females from the two sites did not differ in their SCRs during any experimental phase of fear conditioning (habituation, conditioning, or extinction). In contrast, PR males responded significantly to the conditioned stimulus than MA males or PR females. Subtracting ethnic differences observed during the habituation phase (prior to conditioning) eliminated differences from subsequent phases, suggesting that PR males are elevated in their response to novelty rather than fear learning. Our findings suggest that, in addition to sex differences, there are ethnic differences in physiological responses to novel stimuli at least in males, which could be relevant for the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders. PMID:25501365

  13. Ethnic differences in physiological responses to fear conditioned stimuli.

    PubMed

    Martínez, Karen G; Franco-Chaves, José A; Milad, Mohammed R; Quirk, Gregory J

    2014-01-01

    The idea that emotional expression varies with ethnicity is based largely on questionnaires and behavioral observations rather than physiological measures. We therefore compared the skin conductance responses (SCR) of Hispanic (Puerto Rican) and White non-Hispanic subjects in a fear conditioning and fear extinction task. Subjects were recruited from two sites: San Juan, Puerto Rico (PR), and Boston, Massachusetts (MA), using identical methods. A total of 78 healthy subjects (39 from PR, 39 from MA) were divided by sex and matched for age and educational level. Females from the two sites did not differ in their SCRs during any experimental phase of fear conditioning (habituation, conditioning, or extinction). In contrast, PR males responded significantly to the conditioned stimulus than MA males or PR females. Subtracting ethnic differences observed during the habituation phase (prior to conditioning) eliminated differences from subsequent phases, suggesting that PR males are elevated in their response to novelty rather than fear learning. Our findings suggest that, in addition to sex differences, there are ethnic differences in physiological responses to novel stimuli at least in males, which could be relevant for the assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders. PMID:25501365

  14. The role of Neuropeptide Y in fear conditioning and extinction.

    PubMed

    Tasan, R O; Verma, D; Wood, J; Lach, G; Hörmer, B; de Lima, T C M; Herzog, H; Sperk, G

    2016-02-01

    While anxiety disorders are the brain disorders with the highest prevalence and constitute a major burden for society, a considerable number of affected people are still treated insufficiently. Thus, in an attempt to identify potential new anxiolytic drug targets, neuropeptides have gained considerable attention in recent years. Compared to classical neurotransmitters they often have a regionally restricted distribution and may bind to several distinct receptor subtypes. Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is a highly conserved neuropeptide that is specifically concentrated in limbic brain areas and signals via at least 5 different G-protein-coupled receptors. It is involved in a variety of physiological processes including the modulation of emotional-affective behaviors. An anxiolytic and stress-reducing property of NPY is supported by many preclinical studies. Whether NPY may also interact with processing of learned fear and fear extinction is comparatively unknown. However, this has considerable relevance since pathological, inappropriate and generalized fear expression and impaired fear extinction are hallmarks of human post-traumatic stress disorder and a major reason for its treatment-resistance. Recent evidence from different laboratories emphasizes a fear-reducing role of NPY, predominantly mediated by exogenous NPY acting on Y1 receptors. Since a reduction of fear expression was also observed in Y1 receptor knockout mice, other Y receptors may be equally important. By acting on Y2 receptors, NPY promotes fear extinction and generates a long-term suppression of fear, two important preconditions that could support cognitive behavioral therapies in human patients. A similar effect has been demonstrated for the closely related pancreatic polypeptide (PP) when acting on Y4 receptors. Preliminary evidence suggests that NPY modulates fear in particular by activation of Y1 and Y2 receptors in the basolateral and central amygdala, respectively. In the basolateral amygdala, NPY

  15. Secondary extinction in Pavlovian fear conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Vurbic, Drina; Bouton, Mark E.

    2011-01-01

    Pavlov (1927/1960) reported that following the conditioning of several stimuli, extinction of one conditioned stimulus (CS) attenuated responding to others that had not undergone direct extinction. However, this secondary extinction effect has not been widely replicated in the contemporary literature. In three conditioned suppression experiments with rats, we further explored the phenomenon. In Experiment 1, we asked whether secondary extinction is more likely to occur with target CSs that have themselves undergone some prior extinction. A robust secondary extinction effect was obtained with a nonextinguished target CS. Experiment 2 showed that extinction of one CS was sufficient to reduce renewal of a second CS when it was tested in a neutral (nonextinction) context. In Experiment 3, secondary extinction was observed in groups that initially received intermixed conditioning trials with the target and nontarget CSs, but not in groups that received conditioning of the two CSs in separate sessions. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that CSs must be associated with a common temporal context during conditioning for secondary extinction to occur. PMID:21286897

  16. Prediction of "fear" acquisition in healthy control participants in a de novo fear-conditioning paradigm.

    PubMed

    Otto, Michael W; Leyro, Teresa M; Christian, Kelly; Deveney, Christen M; Reese, Hannah; Pollack, Mark H; Orr, Scott P

    2007-01-01

    Studies using fear-conditioning paradigms have found that anxiety patients are more conditionable than individuals without these disorders, but these effects have been demonstrated inconsistently. It is unclear whether these findings have etiological significance or whether enhanced conditionability is linked only to certain anxiety characteristics. To further examine these issues, the authors assessed the predictive significance of relevant subsyndromal characteristics in 72 healthy adults, including measures of worry, avoidance, anxious mood, depressed mood, and fears of anxiety symptoms (anxiety sensitivity), as well as the dimensions of Neuroticism and Extraversion. Of these variables, the authors found that the combination of higher levels of subsyndromal worry and lower levels of behavioral avoidance predicted heightened conditionability, raising questions about the etiological significance of these variables in the acquisition or maintenance of anxiety disorders. In contrast, the authors found that anxiety sensitivity was more linked to individual differences in orienting response than differences in conditioning per se. PMID:17179530

  17. Effects of inferior olive lesion on fear-conditioned bradycardia

    PubMed Central

    Kotajima, Hiroko; Sakai, Kazuhisa; Hashikawa, Tsutomu

    2014-01-01

    The inferior olive (IO) sends excitatory inputs to the cerebellar cortex and cerebellar nuclei through the climbing fibers. In eyeblink conditioning, a model of motor learning, the inactivation of or a lesion in the IO impairs the acquisition or expression of conditioned eyeblink responses. Additionally, climbing fibers originating from the IO are believed to transmit the unconditioned stimulus to the cerebellum in eyeblink conditioning. Studies using fear-conditioned bradycardia showed that the cerebellum is associated with adaptive control of heart rate. However, the role of inputs from the IO to the cerebellum in fear-conditioned bradycardia has not yet been investigated. To examine this possible role, we tested fear-conditioned bradycardia in mice by selective disruption of the IO using 3-acetylpyridine. In a rotarod test, mice with an IO lesion were unable to remain on the rod. The number of neurons of IO nuclei in these mice was decreased to ∼40% compared with control mice. Mice with an IO lesion did not show changes in the mean heart rate or in heart rate responses to a conditioned stimulus, or in their responses to a painful stimulus in a tail-flick test. However, they did show impairment of the acquisition/expression of conditioned bradycardia and attenuation of heart rate responses to a pain stimulus used as an unconditioned stimulus. These results indicate that the IO inputs to the cerebellum play a key role in the acquisition/expression of conditioned bradycardia. PMID:24784584

  18. Adolescent traumatic stress experience results in less robust conditioned fear and post-extinction fear cue responses in adult rats.

    PubMed

    Moore, Nicole L T; Gauchan, Sangeeta; Genovese, Raymond F

    2014-05-01

    Early exposure to a traumatic event may produce lasting effects throughout the lifespan. Traumatic stress during adolescence may deliver a distinct developmental insult compared with more-often studied neonatal or juvenile traumatic stress paradigms. The present study describes the lasting effects of adolescent traumatic stress upon adulthood fear conditioning. Adolescent rats were exposed to a traumatic stressor (underwater trauma, UWT), then underwent fear conditioning during adulthood. Fear extinction was tested over five conditioned suppression extinction sessions three weeks later. The efficacies of two potential extinction-enhancing compounds, endocannabinoid reuptake inhibitor AM404 (10mg/kg) and M1 muscarinic positive allosteric modulator BQCA (10mg/kg), were also assessed. Finally, post-extinction fear responses were examined using a fear cue (light) as a prepulse stimulus. Rats traumatically stressed during adolescence showed blunted conditioned suppression on day 1 of extinction training, and AM404 reversed this effect. Post-extinction startle testing showed that fear conditioning eliminates prepulse inhibition to the light cue. Startle potentiation was observed only in rats without adolescent UWT exposure. AM404 and BQCA both ameliorated this startle potentiation, while BQCA increased startle in the UWT group. These results suggest that exposure to a traumatic stressor during adolescence alters developmental outcomes related to stress response and fear extinction compared to rats without adolescent traumatic stress exposure, blunting the adulthood fear response and reducing residual post-extinction fear expression. Efficacy of pharmacological interventions may also vary as a factor of developmental traumatic stress exposure. PMID:24491436

  19. Coantagonism of Glutamate Receptors and Nicotinic Acetylcholinergic Receptors Disrupts Fear Conditioning and Latent Inhibition of Fear Conditioning

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Gould, Thomas J.; Lewis, Michael C.

    2005-01-01

    The present study investigated the hypothesis that both nicotinic acetylcholinergic receptors (nAChRs) and glutamate receptors ([alpha]-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate receptors (AMPARs) and N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptors (NMDARs)) are involved in fear conditioning, and may modulate similar processes. The effects of the…

  20. Estrous cycle phase and gonadal hormones influence conditioned fear extinction

    PubMed Central

    Milad, Mohammed R; Igoe, Sarah A; Lebron-Milad, Kelimer; Novales, Juan E

    2009-01-01

    Gonadal hormones modulate fear acquisition, but less is known about the influence of gonadal hormones on fear extinction. We assessed sex differences and the influence of gonadal hormone fluctuations and exogenous manipulations of estrogen and progesterone on acquisition, extinction learning and extinction recall in a 3-day auditory fear conditioning and extinction protocol. Experiments were conducted on males and naturally cycling female rats. Regarding female rats, significant differences in fear extinction were observed between subgroups of females, depending on their phase of the estrous cycle. Extinction that took place during the proestrus (high estrogen/progesterone) phase was more fully consolidated, as evidenced by low freezing during a recall test. This suggests that estrogen and/or progesterone facilitate extinction. In support of this, injection of both estrogen and progesterone prior to extinction learning in female rats during the metestrus phase of the cycle (low estrogen/progesterone) facilitated extinction consolidation, and blockade of estrogen and progesterone receptors during the proestrus phase impaired extinction consolidation. When comparing male to female rats without consideration of the estrous cycle phase, no significant sex differences were observed. When accounting for cycle phase in females, sex differences were observed only during extinction recall. Female rats that underwent extinction during the metestrus phase showed significantly higher freezing during the recall test relative to males. Collectively, these data suggest that gonadal hormones influence extinction behavior possibly by influencing the function of brain regions involved in the consolidation of fear extinction. Moreover, the elevated fear observed in female relative to male rats during extinction recall suggests that gonadal hormones may in part play a role in the higher prevalence of anxiety disorders in women. PMID:19761818

  1. CONTROLLABLE VERSUS UNCONTROLLABLE STRESSORS BI-DIRECTIONALLY MODULATE CONDITIONED BUT NOT INNATE FEAR

    PubMed Central

    Baratta, M. V.; Christianson, J. P.; Gomez, D. M.; Zarza, C. M.; Amat, J.; Masini, C.V.; Watkins, L. R.; Maier, S. F.

    2007-01-01

    Fear conditioning and fear extinction play key roles in the development and treatment of anxiety-related disorders, yet there is little information concerning experiential variables that modulate these processes. Here we examined the impact of exposure to a stressor in a different environment on subsequent fear conditioning and extinction, and whether the degree of behavioral control that the subject has over the stressor is of importance. Rats received a session of either escapable (controllable) tailshock (ES), yoked inescapable (uncontrollable) tailshock (IS), or control treatment (HC) 7 days before fear conditioning in which a tone and footshock were paired. Conditioning was measured 24 h later. In a second experiment rats received ES, IS or HC 24 h after contextual fear conditioning. Extinction then occurred every day beginning 7 days later until a criterion was reached. Spontaneous recovery of fear was assessed 14 days after extinction. IS potentiated fear conditioning when given before fear conditioning, and potentiated fear responding during extinction when given after conditioning. Importantly, ES potently interfered with later fear conditioning, decreased fear responding during fear extinction, and prevented spontaneous recovery of fear. Additionally, we examined if the activation of the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (mPFCv) by ES is critical for the protective effects of ES on later fear conditioning. Inactivation of the mPFCv with muscimol at the time of the initial experience with control prevented ES-induced reductions in later contextual and auditory fear conditioning. Finally, we explored if the protective effects of ES extended to an unconditioned fear stimulus, ferret odor. Unlike conditioned fear, prior ES increased the fear response to ferret odor to the same degree as did IS. PMID:17478046

  2. Controllable versus uncontrollable stressors bi-directionally modulate conditioned but not innate fear.

    PubMed

    Baratta, M V; Christianson, J P; Gomez, D M; Zarza, C M; Amat, J; Masini, C V; Watkins, L R; Maier, S F

    2007-06-01

    Fear conditioning and fear extinction play key roles in the development and treatment of anxiety-related disorders, yet there is little information concerning experiential variables that modulate these processes. Here we examined the impact of exposure to a stressor in a different environment on subsequent fear conditioning and extinction, and whether the degree of behavioral control that the subject has over the stressor is of importance. Rats received a session of either escapable (controllable) tail shock (ES), yoked inescapable (uncontrollable) tail shock (IS), or control treatment (home cage, HC) 7 days before fear conditioning in which a tone and foot shock were paired. Conditioning was measured 24 h later. In a second experiment rats received ES, IS or HC 24 h after contextual fear conditioning. Extinction then occurred every day beginning 7 days later until a criterion was reached. Spontaneous recovery of fear was assessed 14 days after extinction. IS potentiated fear conditioning when given before fear conditioning, and potentiated fear responding during extinction when given after conditioning. Importantly, ES potently interfered with later fear conditioning, decreased fear responding during fear extinction, and prevented spontaneous recovery of fear. Additionally, we examined if the activation of the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (mPFCv) by ES is critical for the protective effects of ES on later fear conditioning. Inactivation of the mPFCv with muscimol at the time of the initial experience with control prevented ES-induced reductions in later contextual and auditory fear conditioning. Finally, we explored if the protective effects of ES extended to an unconditioned fear stimulus, ferret odor. Unlike conditioned fear, prior ES increased the fear response to ferret odor to the same degree as did IS. PMID:17478046

  3. Fear conditioning of SCR but not the startle reflex requires conscious discrimination of threat and safety

    PubMed Central

    Sevenster, Dieuwke; Beckers, Tom; Kindt, Merel

    2014-01-01

    There is conflicting evidence as to whether awareness is required for conditioning of the skin conductance response (SCR). Recently, Schultz and Helmstetter (2010) reported SCR conditioning in contingency unaware participants by using difficult to discriminate stimuli. These findings are in stark contrast with other observations in human fear conditioning research, showing that SCR predominantly reflects contingency learning. Therefore, we repeated the study by Schultz and Helmstetter and additionally measured conditioning of the startle response, which seems to be less sensitive to declarative knowledge than SCR. While we solely observed SCR conditioning in participants who reported awareness of the contingencies (n = 16) and not in the unaware participants (n = 18), we observed startle conditioning irrespective of awareness. We conclude that SCR but not startle conditioning depends on conscious discriminative fear learning. PMID:24616672

  4. Angiotensin type 1a receptors on corticotropin-releasing factor neurons contribute to the expression of conditioned fear.

    PubMed

    Hurt, R C; Garrett, J C; Keifer, O P; Linares, A; Couling, L; Speth, R C; Ressler, K J; Marvar, P J

    2015-09-01

    Although generally associated with cardiovascular regulation, angiotensin II receptor type 1a (AT1a R) blockade in mouse models and humans has also been associated with enhanced fear extinction and decreased post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity, respectively. The mechanisms mediating these effects remain unknown, but may involve alterations in the activities of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)-expressing cells, which are known to be involved in fear regulation. To test the hypothesis that AT1a R signaling in CRFergic neurons is involved in conditioned fear expression, we generated and characterized a conditional knockout mouse strain with a deletion of the AT1a R gene from its CRF-releasing cells (CRF-AT1a R((-/-)) ). These mice exhibit normal baseline heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety and locomotion, and freeze at normal levels during acquisition of auditory fear conditioning. However, CRF-AT1a R((-/-)) mice exhibit less freezing than wild-type mice during tests of conditioned fear expression-an effect that may be caused by a decrease in the consolidation of fear memory. These results suggest that central AT1a R activity in CRF-expressing cells plays a role in the expression of conditioned fear, and identify CRFergic cells as a population on which AT1 R antagonists may act to modulate fear extinction. PMID:26257395

  5. Low-Cost Avoidance Behaviors are Resistant to Fear Extinction in Humans

    PubMed Central

    Vervliet, Bram; Indekeu, Ellen

    2015-01-01

    Elevated levels of fear and avoidance are core symptoms across the anxiety disorders. It has long been known that fear serves to motivate avoidance. Consequently, fear extinction has been the primary focus in pre-clinical anxiety research for decades, under the implicit assumption that removing the motivator of avoidance (fear) would automatically mitigate the avoidance behaviors as well. Although this assumption has intuitive appeal, it has received little scientific scrutiny. The scarce evidence from animal studies is mixed, while the assumption remains untested in humans. The current study applied an avoidance conditioning protocol in humans to investigate the effects of fear extinction on the persistence of low-cost avoidance. Online danger-safety ratings and skin conductance responses documented the dynamics of conditioned fear across avoidance and extinction phases. Anxiety- and avoidance-related questionnaires explored individual differences in rates of avoidance. Participants first learned to click a button during a predictive danger signal, in order to cancel an upcoming aversive electrical shock (avoidance conditioning). Next, fear extinction was induced by presenting the signal in the absence of shocks while button-clicks were prevented (by removing the button in Experiment 1, or by instructing not to click the button in Experiment 2). Most importantly, post-extinction availability of the button caused a significant return of avoidant button-clicks. In addition, trait-anxiety levels correlated positively with rates of avoidance during a predictive safety signal, and with the rate of pre- to post-extinction decrease during this signal. Fear measures gradually decreased during avoidance conditioning, as participants learned that button-clicks effectively canceled the shock. Preventing button-clicks elicited a sharp increase in fear, which subsequently extinguished. Fear remained low during avoidance testing, but danger-safety ratings increased again when

  6. Low-Cost Avoidance Behaviors are Resistant to Fear Extinction in Humans.

    PubMed

    Vervliet, Bram; Indekeu, Ellen

    2015-01-01

    Elevated levels of fear and avoidance are core symptoms across the anxiety disorders. It has long been known that fear serves to motivate avoidance. Consequently, fear extinction has been the primary focus in pre-clinical anxiety research for decades, under the implicit assumption that removing the motivator of avoidance (fear) would automatically mitigate the avoidance behaviors as well. Although this assumption has intuitive appeal, it has received little scientific scrutiny. The scarce evidence from animal studies is mixed, while the assumption remains untested in humans. The current study applied an avoidance conditioning protocol in humans to investigate the effects of fear extinction on the persistence of low-cost avoidance. Online danger-safety ratings and skin conductance responses documented the dynamics of conditioned fear across avoidance and extinction phases. Anxiety- and avoidance-related questionnaires explored individual differences in rates of avoidance. Participants first learned to click a button during a predictive danger signal, in order to cancel an upcoming aversive electrical shock (avoidance conditioning). Next, fear extinction was induced by presenting the signal in the absence of shocks while button-clicks were prevented (by removing the button in Experiment 1, or by instructing not to click the button in Experiment 2). Most importantly, post-extinction availability of the button caused a significant return of avoidant button-clicks. In addition, trait-anxiety levels correlated positively with rates of avoidance during a predictive safety signal, and with the rate of pre- to post-extinction decrease during this signal. Fear measures gradually decreased during avoidance conditioning, as participants learned that button-clicks effectively canceled the shock. Preventing button-clicks elicited a sharp increase in fear, which subsequently extinguished. Fear remained low during avoidance testing, but danger-safety ratings increased again when

  7. A role for midline and intralaminar thalamus in the associative blocking of Pavlovian fear conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Sengupta, Auntora; McNally, Gavan P.

    2014-01-01

    Fear learning occurs in response to positive prediction error, when the expected outcome of a conditioning trial exceeds that predicted by the conditioned stimuli present. This role for error in Pavlovian association formation is best exemplified by the phenomenon of associative blocking, whereby prior fear conditioning of conditioned stimulus (CS) A is able to prevent learning to CSB when they are conditioned in compound. The midline and intralaminar thalamic nuclei (MIT) are well-placed to contribute to fear prediction error because they receive extensive projections from the midbrain periaqueductal gray—which has a key role in fear prediction error—and project extensively to prefrontal cortex and amygdala. Here we used an associative blocking design to study the role of MIT in fear learning. In Stage I rats were trained to fear CSA via pairings with shock. In Stage II rats received compound fear conditioning of CSAB paired with shock. On test, rats that received Stage I training expressed less fear to CSB relative to control rats that did not receive this training. Microinjection of bupivacaine into MIT prior to Stage II training had no effect on the expression of fear during Stage II and had no effect on fear learning in controls, but prevented associative blocking and so enabled fear learning to CSB. These results show an important role for MIT in predictive fear learning and are discussed with reference to previous findings implicating the midline and posterior intralaminar thalamus in fear learning and fear responding. PMID:24822042

  8. Delay and trace fear conditioning in a complex virtual learning environment-neural substrates of extinction.

    PubMed

    Ewald, Heike; Glotzbach-Schoon, Evelyn; Gerdes, Antje B M; Andreatta, Marta; Müller, Mathias; Mühlberger, Andreas; Pauli, Paul

    2014-01-01

    Extinction is an important mechanism to inhibit initially acquired fear responses. There is growing evidence that the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) inhibits the amygdala and therefore plays an important role in the extinction of delay fear conditioning. To our knowledge, there is no evidence on the role of the prefrontal cortex in the extinction of trace conditioning up to now. Thus, we compared brain structures involved in the extinction of human delay and trace fear conditioning in a between-subjects-design in an fMRI study. Participants were passively guided through a virtual environment during learning and extinction of conditioned fear. Two different lights served as conditioned stimuli (CS); as unconditioned stimulus (US) a mildly painful electric stimulus was delivered. In the delay conditioning group (DCG) the US was administered with offset of one light (CS+), whereas in the trace conditioning group (TCG) the US was presented 4 s after CS+ offset. Both groups showed insular and striatal activation during early extinction, but differed in their prefrontal activation. The vmPFC was mainly activated in the DCG, whereas the TCG showed activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) during extinction. These results point to different extinction processes in delay and trace conditioning. VmPFC activation during extinction of delay conditioning might reflect the inhibition of the fear response. In contrast, dlPFC activation during extinction of trace conditioning may reflect modulation of working memory processes which are involved in bridging the trace interval and hold information in short term memory. PMID:24904363

  9. Use of the ABA Fear Renewal Paradigm to Assess the Effects of Extinction with Co-Present Fear Inhibitors or Excitors: Implications for Theories of Extinction and for Treating Human Fears and Phobias

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Thomas, Brian L.; Ayres, John J. B.

    2004-01-01

    In four experiments using albino rats in an ABA fear renewal paradigm, we studied conditioned fear in the A test context following extinction in Context B. Conditioned suppression of operant responding was the index of fear. In Experiments 1-3, we found that extinguishing a feared cue in compound with a putative conditioned inhibitor of fear led…

  10. Effects of recent exposure to a conditioned stimulus on extinction of Pavlovian fear conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Chan, Wan Yee Macy; Leung, Hiu T.; Westbrook, R. Frederick; McNally, Gavan P.

    2010-01-01

    In six experiments we studied the effects of a single re-exposure to a conditioned stimulus (CS; “retrieval trial”) prior to extinction training (extinction-reconsolidation boundary) on the development of and recovery from fear extinction. A single retrieval trial prior to extinction training significantly augmented the renewal and reinstatement of extinguished responding. Augmentation of recovery was not observed if the retrieval and extinction training occurred in different contexts. These results contrast with those reported in earlier papers by Monfils and coworkers in rats and by Schiller and coworkers in humans. We suggest that these contrasting results could depend on the contrasting influences of either: (1) occasion-setting contextual associations vs. direct context–CS associations formed as a consequence of the retrieval trial or (2) discrimination vs. generalization between the circumstances of conditioning and extinction. PMID:20884753

  11. Extinction, generalization, and return of fear: a critical review of renewal research in humans.

    PubMed

    Vervliet, Bram; Baeyens, Frank; Van den Bergh, Omer; Hermans, Dirk

    2013-01-01

    The main behavioral signature of fear extinction is its fragility. This is exemplified by the renewal effect, where a change in the background context produces recovery of fear to a conditioned-and-extinguished stimulus. Renewal is the backbone of a widely accepted theory of extinction in animal research, as well as an important experimental model to screen novel treatment techniques. This has led to an explosion of fear renewal research in humans. However, the mere observation of return of fear in a renewal procedure is not sufficient to validate this particular theory of extinction in the tested sample/procedure. Here, we systematically outline a set of experimental tests that aid in evaluating alternative extinction/renewal mechanisms. We examine published renewal studies in human fear conditioning and conclude that the prevailing theory of extinction is often taken for granted, but critical tests are lacking. Including these tests in future research will not only reveal the fear extinction mechanism in humans, but also inspire further developments in extinction treatment research. PMID:22285129

  12. Fear but not fright: re-evaluating traumatic experience attenuates anxiety-like behaviors after fear conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Costanzi, Marco; Saraulli, Daniele; Cannas, Sara; D’Alessandro, Francesca; Florenzano, Fulvio; Rossi-Arnaud, Clelia; Cestari, Vincenzo

    2014-01-01

    Fear allows organisms to cope with dangerous situations and remembering these situations has an adaptive role preserving individuals from injury and death. However, recalling traumatic memories can induce re-experiencing the trauma, thus resulting in a maladaptive fear. A failure to properly regulate fear responses has been associated with anxiety disorders, like Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Thus, re-establishing the capability to regulate fear has an important role for its adaptive and clinical relevance. Strategies aimed at erasing fear memories have been proposed, although there are limits about their efficiency in treating anxiety disorders. To re-establish fear regulation, here we propose a new approach, based on the re-evaluation of the aversive value of traumatic experience. Mice were submitted to a contextual-fear-conditioning paradigm in which a neutral context was paired with an intense electric footshock. Three weeks after acquisition, conditioned mice were treated with a less intense footshock (pain threshold). The effectiveness of this procedure in reducing fear expression was assessed in terms of behavioral outcomes related to PTSD (e.g., hyper-reactivity to a neutral tone, anxiety levels in a plus maze task, social avoidance, and learning deficits in a spatial water maze) and of amygdala activity by evaluating c-fos expression. Furthermore, a possible role of lateral orbitofrontal cortex (lOFC) in mediating the behavioral effects induced by the re-evaluation procedure was investigated. We observed that this treatment: (i) significantly mitigates the abnormal behavioral outcomes induced by trauma; (ii) persistently attenuates fear expression without erasing contextual memory; (iii) prevents fear reinstatement; (iv) reduces amygdala activity; and (v) requires an intact lOFC to be effective. These results suggest that an effective strategy to treat pathological anxiety should address cognitive re-evaluation of the traumatic experience mediated

  13. Spontaneous brain activity following fear reminder of fear conditioning by using resting-state functional MRI

    PubMed Central

    Feng, Pan; Zheng, Yong; Feng, Tingyong

    2015-01-01

    Although disrupting reconsolidation may be a promising approach to attenuate or erase the expression of fear memory, it is not clear how the neural state following fear reminder contribute to the following fear extinction. To address this question, we used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) to measure spontaneous neuronal activity and functional connectivity (RSFC) following fear reminder. Some brain regions such as dorsal anterior cingulate (dACC) and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) showed increased amplitude of LFF (ALFF) in the fear reminder group than the no reminder group following fear reminder. More importantly, there was much stronger functional connectivity between the amygdala and vmPFC in the fear reminder group than those in the no reminder group. These findings suggest that the strong functional connectivity between vmPFC and amygdala following a fear reminder could serve as a key role in the followed-up fear extinction stages, which may contribute to the erasing of fear memory. PMID:26576733

  14. Acute and chronic effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment on fear conditioning: implications for underlying fear circuits.

    PubMed

    Burghardt, N S; Bauer, E P

    2013-09-01

    Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are widely used for the treatment of a spectrum of anxiety disorders, yet paradoxically they may increase symptoms of anxiety when treatment is first initiated. Despite extensive research over the past 30 years focused on SSRI treatment, the precise mechanisms by which SSRIs exert these opposing acute and chronic effects on anxiety remain unknown. By testing the behavioral effects of SSRI treatment on Pavlovian fear conditioning, a well characterized model of emotional learning, we have the opportunity to identify how SSRIs affect the functioning of specific brain regions, including the amygdala, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) and hippocampus. In this review, we first define different stages of learning involved in cued and context fear conditioning and describe the neural circuits underlying these processes. We examine the results of numerous rodent studies investigating how acute SSRI treatment modulates fear learning and relate these effects to the known functions of serotonin in specific brain regions. With these findings, we propose a model by which acute SSRI administration, by altering neural activity in the extended amygdala and hippocampus, enhances both acquisition and expression of cued fear conditioning, but impairs the expression of contextual fear conditioning. Finally, we review the literature examining the effects of chronic SSRI treatment on fear conditioning in rodents and describe how downregulation of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the amygdala and hippocampus may mediate the impairments in fear learning and memory that are reported. While long-term SSRI treatment effectively reduces symptoms of anxiety, their disruptive effects on fear learning should be kept in mind when combining chronic SSRI treatment and learning-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. PMID:23732229

  15. A fast pathway for fear in human amygdala.

    PubMed

    Méndez-Bértolo, Constantino; Moratti, Stephan; Toledano, Rafael; Lopez-Sosa, Fernando; Martínez-Alvarez, Roberto; Mah, Yee H; Vuilleumier, Patrik; Gil-Nagel, Antonio; Strange, Bryan A

    2016-08-01

    A fast, subcortical pathway to the amygdala is thought to have evolved to enable rapid detection of threat. This pathway's existence is fundamental for understanding nonconscious emotional responses, but has been challenged as a result of a lack of evidence for short-latency fear-related responses in primate amygdala, including humans. We recorded human intracranial electrophysiological data and found fast amygdala responses, beginning 74-ms post-stimulus onset, to fearful, but not neutral or happy, facial expressions. These responses had considerably shorter latency than fear responses that we observed in visual cortex. Notably, fast amygdala responses were limited to low spatial frequency components of fearful faces, as predicted by magnocellular inputs to amygdala. Furthermore, fast amygdala responses were not evoked by photographs of arousing scenes, which is indicative of selective early reactivity to socially relevant visual information conveyed by fearful faces. These data therefore support the existence of a phylogenetically old subcortical pathway providing fast, but coarse, threat-related signals to human amygdala. PMID:27294508

  16. Rapid amygdala responses during trace fear conditioning without awareness.

    PubMed

    Balderston, Nicholas L; Schultz, Douglas H; Baillet, Sylvain; Helmstetter, Fred J

    2014-01-01

    The role of consciousness in learning has been debated for nearly 50 years. Recent studies suggest that conscious awareness is needed to bridge the gap when learning about two events that are separated in time, as is true for trace fear conditioning. This has been repeatedly shown and seems to apply to other forms of classical conditioning as well. In contrast to these findings, we show that individuals can learn to associate a face with the later occurrence of a shock, even if they are unable to perceive the face. We used a novel application of magnetoencephalography (MEG) to non-invasively record neural activity from the amygdala, which is known to be important for fear learning. We demonstrate rapid (∼ 170-200 ms) amygdala responses during the stimulus free period between the face and the shock. These results suggest that unperceived faces can serve as signals for impending threat, and that rapid, automatic activation of the amygdala contributes to this process. In addition, we describe a methodology that can be applied in the future to study neural activity with MEG in other subcortical structures. PMID:24823365

  17. Resting cerebral metabolism correlates with skin conductance and functional brain activation during fear conditioning.

    PubMed

    Linnman, Clas; Zeidan, Mohamed A; Pitman, Roger K; Milad, Mohammed R

    2012-02-01

    We investigated whether resting brain metabolism can be used to predict autonomic and neuronal responses during fear conditioning in 20 healthy humans. Regional cerebral metabolic rate for glucose was measured via positron emission tomography at rest. During conditioning, autonomic responses were measured via skin conductance, and blood oxygen level dependent signal was measured via functional magnetic resonance imaging. Resting dorsal anterior cingulate metabolism positively predicted differentially conditioned skin conductance responses. Midbrain and insula resting metabolism negatively predicted midbrain and insula functional reactivity, while dorsal anterior cingulate resting metabolism positively predicted midbrain functional reactivity. We conclude that resting metabolism in limbic areas can predict some aspects of psychophysiological and neuronal reactivity during fear learning. PMID:22207247

  18. Resting cerebral metabolism correlates with skin conductance and functional brain activation during fear conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Linnman, Clas; Zeidan, Mohamed A.; Pitman, Roger K; Milad, Mohammed R.

    2011-01-01

    We investigated whether resting brain metabolism can be used to predict autonomic and neuronal responses during fear conditioning in 20 healthy humans. Regional cerebral metabolic rate for glucose was measured via positron emission tomography at rest. During conditioning, autonomic responses were measured via skin conductance, and blood oxygen level dependent signal was measured via functional magnetic resonance imaging. Resting dorsal anterior cingulate metabolism positively predicted differentially conditioned skin conductance responses. Midbrain and insula resting metabolism negatively predicted midbrain and insula functional reactivity, while dorsal anterior cingulate resting metabolism positively predicted midbrain functional reactivity. We conclude that resting metabolism in limbic areas can predict some aspects of psychophysiological and neuronal reactivity during fear learning. PMID:22207247

  19. Medial prefrontal pathways for the contextual regulation of extinguished fear in humans.

    PubMed

    Åhs, Fredrik; Kragel, Philip A; Zielinski, David J; Brady, Rachael; LaBar, Kevin S

    2015-11-15

    The maintenance of anxiety disorders is thought to depend, in part, on deficits in extinction memory, possibly due to reduced contextual control of extinction that leads to fear renewal. Animal studies suggest that the neural circuitry responsible fear renewal includes the hippocampus, amygdala, and dorsomedial (dmPFC) and ventromedial (vmPFC) prefrontal cortex. However, the neural mechanisms of context-dependent fear renewal in humans remain poorly understood. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), combined with psychophysiology and immersive virtual reality, to elucidate how the hippocampus, amygdala, and dmPFC and vmPFC interact to drive the context-dependent renewal of extinguished fear. Healthy human participants encountered dynamic fear-relevant conditioned stimuli (CSs) while navigating through 3-D virtual reality environments in the MRI scanner. Conditioning and extinction were performed in two different virtual contexts. Twenty-four hours later, participants were exposed to the CSs without reinforcement while navigating through both contexts in the MRI scanner. Participants showed enhanced skin conductance responses (SCRs) to the previously-reinforced CS+ in the acquisition context on Day 2, consistent with fear renewal, and sustained responses in the dmPFC. In contrast, participants showed low SCRs to the CSs in the extinction context on Day 2, consistent with extinction recall, and enhanced vmPFC activation to the non-reinforced CS-. Structural equation modeling revealed that the dmPFC fully mediated the effect of the hippocampus on right amygdala activity during fear renewal, whereas the vmPFC partially mediated the effect of the hippocampus on right amygdala activity during extinction recall. These results indicate dissociable contextual influences of the hippocampus on prefrontal pathways, which, in turn, determine the level of reactivation of fear associations. PMID:26220745

  20. Conditioning- and time-dependent increases in context fear and generalization.

    PubMed

    Poulos, Andrew M; Mehta, Nehali; Lu, Bryan; Amir, Dorsa; Livingston, Briana; Santarelli, Anthony; Zhuravka, Irina; Fanselow, Michael S

    2016-07-01

    A prominent feature of fear memories and anxiety disorders is that they endure across extended periods of time. Here, we examine how the severity of the initial fear experience influences incubation, generalization, and sensitization of contextual fear memories across time. Adult rats were presented with either five, two, one, or zero shocks (1.2 mA, 2 sec) during contextual fear conditioning. Following a recent (1 d) or remote (28 d) retention interval all subjects were returned to the original training context to measure fear memory and/or to a novel context to measure the specificity of fear conditioning. Our results indicate rats that received two or five shocks show an "incubation"-like enhancement of fear between recent and remote retention intervals, while single-shocked animals show stable levels of context fear memory. Moreover, when fear was tested in a novel context, 1 and 2 shocked groups failed to freeze, whereas five shocked rats showed a time-dependent generalization of context memory. Stress enhancement of fear learning to a second round of conditioning was evident in all previously shocked animals. Based on these results, we conclude that the severity or number of foot shocks determines not only the level of fear memory, but also the time-dependent incubation of fear and its generalization across distinct contexts. PMID:27317198

  1. The CRH1 antagonist GSK561679 increases human fear but not anxiety as assessed by startle.

    PubMed

    Grillon, Christian; Hale, Elizabeth; Lieberman, Lynne; Davis, Andrew; Pine, Daniel S; Ernst, Monique

    2015-04-01

    Fear to predictable threat and anxiety to unpredictable threat reflect distinct processes mediated by different brain structures, the central nucleus of the amygdala and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), respectively. This study tested the hypothesis that the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF1) antagonist GSK561679 differentially reduces anxiety but increases fear in humans. A total of 31 healthy females received each of four treatments: placebo, 50 mg GSK561679 (low-GSK), 400 mg GSK561679 (high-GSK), and 1 mg alprazolam in a crossover design. Participants were exposed to three conditions during each of the four treatments. The three conditions included one in which predictable aversive shocks were signaled by a cue, a second during which shocks were administered unpredictably, and a third condition without shock. Fear and anxiety were assessed using the acoustic startle reflex. High-GSK had no effect on startle potentiation during unpredictable threat (anxiety) but increased startle potentiation during the predictable condition (fear). Low-GSK did not affect startle potentiation across conditions. Consistent with previous findings, alprazolam reduced startle potentiation during unpredictable threat but not during predictable threat. The increased fear by high-GSK replicates animal findings and suggests a lift of the inhibitory effect of the BNST on the amygdala by the CRF1 antagonist. PMID:25430779

  2. The Narrow Fellow in the Grass: Human Infants Associate Snakes and Fear

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    DeLoache, Judy S.; LoBue, Vanessa

    2009-01-01

    Why are snakes such a common target of fear? One current view is that snake fear is one of several innate fears that emerge spontaneously. Another is that humans have an evolved predisposition to learn to fear snakes. In the first study reported here, 9- to 10-month-old infants showed no differential spontaneous reaction to films of snakes versus…

  3. THE NON-HUMAN PRIMATE AMYGDALA IS NECESSARY FOR THE ACQUISITION BUT NOT THE RETENTION OF FEAR-POTENTIATED STARTLE

    PubMed Central

    Antoniadis, Elena A.; Winslow, James T.; Davis, Michael; Amaral, David G.

    2009-01-01

    Background In a previous study (1), we found that rhesus monkeys prepared with bilateral lesions of the amygdala failed to acquire fear-potentiated startle to a visual cue. However, a second group of monkeys, that received the lesion after training, successfully demonstrated fear-potentiated startle learned prior to the lesion. Methods In the current experiment, the eight monkeys used in the second part of the original study (1), four of whom had bilateral amygdala lesions and their four controls, were trained using an auditory cue and tested in the fear-potentiated startle paradigm. This test was performed to determine whether they could acquire fear-potentiated startle to a new cue. Results Monkeys with essentially complete damage to the amygdala (based on histological analysis), who had retained and expressed fear-potentiated startle to a visual cue learned before the lesion (1), failed to acquire fear-potentiated startle to an auditory cue, when training occurred after the lesion. Conclusions The results suggest that while the non-human primate amygdala is essential for the initial acquisition of fear conditioning, it does not appear to be necessary for the memory and expression of conditioned fear. These findings are discussed in relation to a network of connections between the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex that may subserve different component processes of fear conditioning. PMID:18823878

  4. Neuropeptide S reduces fear and avoidance of con-specifics induced by social fear conditioning and social defeat, respectively.

    PubMed

    Zoicas, Iulia; Menon, Rohit; Neumann, Inga D

    2016-09-01

    Neuropeptide S (NPS) has anxiolytic effects and facilitates extinction of cued fear in rodents. Here, we investigated whether NPS reverses social fear and social avoidance induced by social fear conditioning (SFC) and acute social defeat (SD), respectively, in male CD1 mice. Our results revealed that intracerebroventricular NPS (icv; 10 and 50 nmol/2 μl) reversed fear of unknown con-specifics induced by SFC and dose-dependently reduced avoidance of known aggressive con-specifics induced by SD. While 50 nmol of NPS completely reversed social avoidance and reinstated social preference, 10 nmol of NPS reduced social avoidance, but did not completely reinstate social preference in socially-defeated mice. Further, a lower dose (1 nmol/2 μl) of NPS facilitated the within-session extinction of cued fear, while a higher dose (10 nmol/2 μl) reduced the expression of cued fear. We could also confirm the anxiolytic effects of NPS (1, 10 and 50 nmol/2 μl) on the elevated plus-maze (EPM), which were not accompanied by alterations in locomotor activity either on the EPM or in the home cage. Finally, we could show that icv infusion of the NPS receptor 1 antagonist D-Cys((t)Bu)(5)-NPS (10 nmol/2 μl) did not alter SFC-induced social fear, general anxiety and locomotor activity. Taken together, our study extends the potent anxiolytic profile of NPS to a social context by demonstrating the reduction of social fear and social avoidance, thus providing the framework for studies investigating the involvement of the NPS system in the regulation of different types of social behaviour. PMID:27044664

  5. Dendritic structural plasticity in the basolateral amygdala after fear conditioning and its extinction in mice

    PubMed Central

    Heinrichs, Stephen C.; Leite-Morris, Kimberly A.; Guy, Marsha D.; Goldberg, Lisa R.; Young, Angela J.; Kaplan, Gary B.

    2015-01-01

    Previous research suggests that morphology and arborization of dendritic spines change as a result of fear conditioning in cortical and subcortical brain regions. This study uniquely aims to delineate these structural changes in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) after both fear conditioning and fear extinction. C57BL/6 mice acquired robust conditioned fear responses (70–80% cued freezing behavior) after six pairings with a tone cue associated with footshock in comparison to unshocked controls. During fear acquisition, freezing behavior was significantly affected by both shock exposure and trial number. For fear extinction, mice were exposed to the conditioned stimulus tone in the absence of shock administration and behavioral responses significantly varied by shock treatment. In the retention tests over 3 weeks, the percentage time spent freezing varied with the factor of extinction training. In all treatment groups, alterations in dendritic plasticity were analyzed using Golgi–Cox staining of dendrites in the BLA. Spine density differed between the fear conditioned group and both the fear extinction and control groups on third order dendrites. Spine density was significantly increased in the fear conditioned group compared to the fear extinction group and controls. Similarly in Sholl analyses, fear conditioning significantly increased BLA spine numbers and dendritic intersections while subsequent extinction training reversed these effects. In summary, fear extinction produced enduring behavioral plasticity that is associated with a reversal of alterations in BLA dendritic plasticity produced by fear conditioning. These neuroplasticity findings can inform our understanding of structural mechanisms underlying stress-related pathology can inform treatment research into these disorders. PMID:23570859

  6. Effects of Recent Exposure to a Conditioned Stimulus on Extinction of Pavlovian Fear Conditioning

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Chan, Wan Yee Macy; Leung, Hiu T.; Westbrook, R. Frederick; McNally, Gavan P.

    2010-01-01

    In six experiments we studied the effects of a single re-exposure to a conditioned stimulus (CS; "retrieval trial") prior to extinction training (extinction-reconsolidation boundary) on the development of and recovery from fear extinction. A single retrieval trial prior to extinction training significantly augmented the renewal and reinstatement…

  7. Olfactory Fear Conditioning Induces Field Potential Potentiation in Rat Olfactory Cortex and Amygdala

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Messaoudi, Belkacem; Granjon, Lionel; Mouly, Anne-Marie; Sevelinges, Yannick; Gervais, Remi

    2004-01-01

    The widely used Pavlovian fear-conditioning paradigms used for studying the neurobiology of learning and memory have mainly used auditory cues as conditioned stimuli (CS). The present work assessed the neural network involved in olfactory fear conditioning, using olfactory bulb stimulation-induced field potential signal (EFP) as a marker of…

  8. Histone acetylation rescues contextual fear conditioning in nNOS KO mice and accelerates extinction of cued fear conditioning in wild type mice.

    PubMed

    Itzhak, Yossef; Anderson, Karen L; Kelley, Jonathan B; Petkov, Martin

    2012-05-01

    Epigenetic regulation of chromatin structure is an essential molecular mechanism that contributes to the formation of synaptic plasticity and long-term memory (LTM). An important regulatory process of chromatin structure is acetylation and deacetylation of histone proteins. Inhibition of histone deacetylase (HDAC) increases acetylation of histone proteins and facilitate learning and memory. Nitric oxide (NO) signaling pathway has a role in synaptic plasticity, LTM and regulation of histone acetylation. We have previously shown that NO signaling pathway is required for contextual fear conditioning. The present study investigated the effects of systemic administration of the HDAC inhibitor sodium butyrate (NaB) on fear conditioning in neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) knockout (KO) and wild type (WT) mice. The effect of single administration of NaB on total H3 and H4 histone acetylation in hippocampus and amygdala was also investigated. A single administration of NaB prior to fear conditioning (a) rescued contextual fear conditioning of nNOS KO mice and (b) had long-term (weeks) facilitatory effect on the extinction of cued fear memory of WT mice. The facilitatory effect of NaB on extinction of cued fear memory of WT mice was confirmed in a study whereupon NaB was administered during extinction. Results suggest that (a) the rescue of contextual fear conditioning in nNOS KO mice is associated with NaB-induced increase in H3 histone acetylation and (b) the accelerated extinction of cued fear memory in WT mice is associated with NaB-induced increase in H4 histone acetylation. Hence, a single administration of HDAC inhibitor may rescue NO-dependent cognitive deficits and afford a long-term accelerating effect on extinction of fear memory of WT mice. PMID:22452925

  9. Adversity-induced relapse of fear: neural mechanisms and implications for relapse prevention from a study on experimentally induced return-of-fear following fear conditioning and extinction.

    PubMed

    Scharfenort, R; Menz, M; Lonsdorf, T B

    2016-01-01

    The efficacy of current treatments for anxiety disorders is limited by high relapse rates. Relapse of anxiety disorders and addiction can be triggered by exposure to life adversity, but the underlying mechanisms remain unexplored. Seventy-six healthy adults were a priori selected for the presence or absence of adverse experiences during childhood (CA) and recent past (RA; that is, past 12 months). Participants underwent fear conditioning (day 1) and fear extinction and experimental return-of-fear (ROF) induction through reinstatement (a model for adversity-induced relapse; day 2). Ratings, autonomic (skin conductance response) and neuronal activation measures (functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)) were acquired. Individuals exposed to RA showed a generalized (that is, not CS- specific) fear recall and ROF, whereas unexposed individuals showed differential (that is, CS+ specific) fear recall and ROF on an autonomic level despite no group differences during fear acquisition and extinction learning. These group differences in ROF were accompanied by corresponding activation differences in brain areas known to be involved in fear processing and differentiability/generalization of ROF (that is, hippocampus). In addition, dimensional measures of RA, CA and lifetime adversity were negatively correlated with differential skin conductance responses (SCRs) during ROF and hippocampal activation. As discriminating signals of danger and safety, as well as a tendency for overgeneralization, are core features in clinically anxious populations, these deficits may specifically contribute to relapse risk following exposure to adversity, in particular to recent adversity. Hence, our results may provide first and novel insights into the possible mechanisms mediating enhanced relapse risk following exposure to (recent) adversity, which may guide the development of effective pre- and intervention programs. PMID:27434492

  10. Conditioned Fear Associated Phenotypes as Robust, Translational Indices of Trauma-, Stressor-, and Anxiety-Related Behaviors

    PubMed Central

    Briscione, Maria Anne; Jovanovic, Tanja; Norrholm, Seth Davin

    2014-01-01

    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a heterogeneous disorder that affects individuals exposed to trauma (e.g., combat, interpersonal violence, and natural disasters). It is characterized by hyperarousal, intrusive reminders of the trauma, avoidance of trauma-related cues, and negative cognition and mood. This heterogeneity indicates the presence of multiple neurobiological mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of PTSD. Fear conditioning is a robust, translational experimental paradigm that can be employed to elucidate these mechanisms by allowing for the study of fear-related dimensions of PTSD (e.g., fear extinction, fear inhibition, and generalization of fear) across multiple units of analysis. Fear conditioning experiments have identified varying trajectories of the dimensions described, highlighting exciting new avenues of targeted, focused study. Additionally, fear conditioning studies provide a translational platform to develop novel interventions. The current review highlights the versatility of fear conditioning paradigms, the implications for pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments, the robustness of these paradigms to span an array of neuroscientific measures (e.g., genetic studies), and finally the need to understand the boundary conditions under which these paradigms are effective. Further understanding these paradigms will ultimately allow for optimization of fear conditioning paradigms, a necessary step towards the advancement of PTSD treatment methods. PMID:25101010

  11. Conditioned fear associated phenotypes as robust, translational indices of trauma-, stressor-, and anxiety-related behaviors.

    PubMed

    Briscione, Maria Anne; Jovanovic, Tanja; Norrholm, Seth Davin

    2014-01-01

    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a heterogeneous disorder that affects individuals exposed to trauma (e.g., combat, interpersonal violence, and natural disasters). It is characterized by hyperarousal, intrusive reminders of the trauma, avoidance of trauma-related cues, and negative cognition and mood. This heterogeneity indicates the presence of multiple neurobiological mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of PTSD. Fear conditioning is a robust, translational experimental paradigm that can be employed to elucidate these mechanisms by allowing for the study of fear-related dimensions of PTSD (e.g., fear extinction, fear inhibition, and generalization of fear) across multiple units of analysis. Fear conditioning experiments have identified varying trajectories of the dimensions described, highlighting exciting new avenues of targeted, focused study. Additionally, fear conditioning studies provide a translational platform to develop novel interventions. The current review highlights the versatility of fear conditioning paradigms, the implications for pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments, the robustness of these paradigms to span an array of neuroscientific measures (e.g., genetic studies), and finally the need to understand the boundary conditions under which these paradigms are effective. Further understanding these paradigms will ultimately allow for optimization of fear conditioning paradigms, a necessary step towards the advancement of PTSD treatment methods. PMID:25101010

  12. Modulation of cannabinoid signaling by hippocampal 5-HT4 serotonergic system in fear conditioning.

    PubMed

    Nasehi, Mohammad; Farrahizadeh, Maryam; Ebrahimi-Ghiri, Mohaddeseh; Zarrindast, Mohammad-Reza

    2016-09-01

    Behavioral studies have suggested a key role for the cannabinoid system in the modulation of conditioned fear memory. Likewise, much of the literature has revealed that the serotonergic system affects Pavlovian fear conditioning and extinction. A high level of functional overlap between the serotonin and cannabinoid systems has also been reported. To clarify the interaction between the hippocampal serotonin (5-HT4) receptor and the cannabinoid CB1 receptor in the acquisition of fear memory, the effects of 5-HT4 agents, arachidonylcyclopropylamide (ACPA; CB1 receptor agonist), and the combined use of these drugs on fear learning were studied in a fear conditioning task in adult male NMRI mice. Pre-training intraperitoneal administration of ACPA (0.1 mg/kg) decreased the percentage of freezing time in both context- and tone-dependent fear conditions, suggesting impairment of the acquisition of fear memory. Pre-training, intra-hippocampal (CA1) microinjection of RS67333, a 5-HT4 receptor agonist, at doses of 0.1 and 0.2 or 0.2 µg/mouse impaired contextual and tone fear memory, respectively. A subthreshold dose of RS67333 (0.005 µg/mouse) did not alter the ACPA response in either condition. Moreover, intra-CA1 microinjection of RS23597 as a 5-HT4 receptor antagonist did not alter context-dependent fear memory acquisition, but it did impair tone-dependent fear memory acquisition. However, a subthreshold dose of the RS23597 (0.01 µg/mouse) potentiated ACPA-induced fear memory impairment in both conditions. Therefore, we suggest that the blockade of hippocampal 5-HT4 serotonergic system modulates cannabinoid signaling induced by the activation of CB1 receptors in conditioned fear. PMID:27296273

  13. Reinstatement of an extinguished fear conditioned response in infant rats.

    PubMed

    Revillo, Damian A; Trebucq, Gastón; Paglini, Maria G; Arias, Carlos

    2016-01-01

    Although it is currently accepted that the extinction effect reflects new context-dependent learning, this is not so clear during infancy, because some studies did not find recovery of the extinguished conditioned response (CR) in rodents during this ontogenetic stage. However, recent studies have shown the return of an extinguished CR in infant rats. The present study analyzes the possibility of recovering an extinguished CR with a reinstatement procedure in a fear conditioning paradigm, on PD17 (Experiments 1-4) and on PD24 (Experiment 5), while exploring the role of the olfactory content of the context upon the reinstatement effect during the preweanling period. Preweanling rats expressed a previously extinguished CR after a single experience with an unsignaled US. Furthermore, this result was only found when subjects were trained and tested in contexts that included an explicit odor, but not in standard experimental cages. Finally, Experiment 5 demonstrated the reinstatement effect on PD24 in a standard context. These results support the notion that extinction during infancy has the same characteristics as those described for extinction that occurs in adulthood. Instead of postulating a different mechanism for extinction during infancy, we propose that it may be more accurate to view the problem in terms of the variables that may differentially modulate the extinction effect according to the stages of ontogeny. PMID:26670181

  14. Exposure to a novel context after extinction causes a renewal of extinguished conditioned responses: implications for the treatment of fear.

    PubMed

    Neumann, David L; Kitlertsirivatana, Edward

    2010-06-01

    Renewal gives an experimental model for the relapse of fear symptoms following exposure therapy. While renewal of extinguished fear in humans has been observed following a return to the original context in which fear was acquired (ABA design), it has been more difficult to show upon presentation of a novel context (ABC design). The present experiment used a particularly strong context manipulation in a fear conditioning procedure. Context was manipulated by using large photographs of real environments taken from various angles and was present throughout the entire experiment. A renewal of cognitive expectancy was found in both ABA and ABC renewal designs, although it was larger in the former than in the latter. Response times in making the expectancy judgments increased when there was a change to a new context. The results demonstrate consistency in fear renewal effects between human and animal studies and suggest that relapse following exposure therapy via renewal remains a danger when people encounter a previously feared object in a novel context. PMID:20356572

  15. Dissociated Roles for the Lateral and Medial Septum in Elemental and Contextual Fear Conditioning

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Calandreau, Ludovic; Jaffard, Robert; Desmedt, Aline

    2007-01-01

    Extensive evidence indicates that the septum plays a predominant role in fear learning, yet the direction of this control is still a matter of debate. Increasing data suggest that the medial (MS) and lateral septum (LS) would be differentially required in fear conditioning depending on whether a discrete conditional stimulus (CS) predicts, or not,…

  16. Antagonism of Lateral Amygdala Alpha1-Adrenergic Receptors Facilitates Fear Conditioning and Long-Term Potentiation

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Lazzaro, Stephanie C.; Hou, Mian; Cunha, Catarina; LeDoux, Joseph E.; Cain, Christopher K.

    2010-01-01

    Norepinephrine receptors have been studied in emotion, memory, and attention. However, the role of alpha1-adrenergic receptors in fear conditioning, a major model of emotional learning, is poorly understood. We examined the effect of terazosin, an alpha1-adrenergic receptor antagonist, on cued fear conditioning. Systemic or intra-lateral amygdala…

  17. The Amygdala Is Critical for Trace, Delay, and Contextual Fear Conditioning

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Kochli, Daniel E.; Thompson, Elaine C.; Fricke, Elizabeth A.; Postle, Abagail F.; Quinn, Jennifer J.

    2015-01-01

    Numerous investigations have definitively shown amygdalar involvement in delay and contextual fear conditioning. However, much less is known about amygdala contributions to trace fear conditioning, and what little evidence exists is conflicting as noted in previous studies. This discrepancy may result from selective targeting of individual nuclei…

  18. A Discrete Population of Neurons in the Lateral Amygdala Is Specifically Activated by Contextual Fear Conditioning

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Wilson, Yvette M.; Murphy, Mark

    2009-01-01

    There is no clear identification of the neurons involved in fear conditioning in the amygdala. To search for these neurons, we have used a genetic approach, the "fos-tau-lacZ" (FTL) mouse, to map functionally activated expression in neurons following contextual fear conditioning. We have identified a discrete population of neurons in the lateral…

  19. Salient hopes and fears: social marketing to promote human services.

    PubMed

    Plantz, M C

    1980-01-01

    The application of social marketing principles to the promotion of human services programs is illustrated in this paper. As part of a household interview survey, 176 respondents were asked to name their hopes and fears for their lives. Responses generated by these questions are reported briefly. These findings then are interpreted from the perspective of social marketing theory, and resulting implications for the design of strategies to promote human service programs are discussed. Other areas in which social marketing theory may aid the planning and delivery of human services are mentioned. PMID:7471701

  20. A multi-pathway hypothesis for human visual fear signaling

    PubMed Central

    Silverstein, David N.; Ingvar, Martin

    2015-01-01

    A hypothesis is proposed for five visual fear signaling pathways in humans, based on an analysis of anatomical connectivity from primate studies and human functional connectvity and tractography from brain imaging studies. Earlier work has identified possible subcortical and cortical fear pathways known as the “low road” and “high road,” which arrive at the amygdala independently. In addition to a subcortical pathway, we propose four cortical signaling pathways in humans along the visual ventral stream. All four of these traverse through the LGN to the visual cortex (VC) and branching off at the inferior temporal area, with one projection directly to the amygdala; another traversing the orbitofrontal cortex; and two others passing through the parietal and then prefrontal cortex, one excitatory pathway via the ventral-medial area and one regulatory pathway via the ventral-lateral area. These pathways have progressively longer propagation latencies and may have progressively evolved with brain development to take advantage of higher-level processing. Using the anatomical path lengths and latency estimates for each of these five pathways, predictions are made for the relative processing times at selective ROIs and arrival at the amygdala, based on the presentation of a fear-relevant visual stimulus. Partial verification of the temporal dynamics of this hypothesis might be accomplished using experimental MEG analysis. Possible experimental protocols are suggested. PMID:26379513

  1. A role for α1-adrenergic receptors in extinction of conditioned fear and cocaine conditioned preference

    PubMed Central

    Bernardi, Rick E.; Lattal, K. Matthew

    2010-01-01

    Previous work has demonstrated an important role for adrenergic receptors in memory processes in fear and drug conditioning paradigms. Recent studies have also demonstrated alterations in extinction in these paradigms using drug treatments targeting β- and α2-adrenergic receptors, but little is known about the role of α1-adrenergic receptors in extinction. The current study examined whether antagonism of α1-adrenergic receptors would impair the consolidation of extinction in fear and cocaine conditioned place preference (CPP) paradigms. After contextual fear conditioning, injections of prazosin (1.0 or 3.0 mg/kg) following nonreinforced context exposures slowed the loss of conditioned freezing over the course of five extinction sessions (Experiment 1). After cocaine place conditioning, prazosin had no effect on the rate of extinction over eight nonreinforced test sessions. Following post-extinction reconditioning, however, prazosin-treated mice showed a robust place preference, but vehicle-treated mice did not, suggesting that prazosin reduced the persistent effects of extinction (Experiment 2). These results confirm the involvement of the α1-adrenergic receptor in extinction processes in both appetitive and aversive preparations. PMID:20364880

  2. Histone Modifications around Individual BDNF Gene Promoters in Prefrontal Cortex Are Associated with Extinction of Conditioned Fear

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Bredy, Timothy W.; Wu, Hao; Crego, Cortney; Zellhoefer, Jessica; Sun, Yi E.; Barad, Mark

    2007-01-01

    Extinction of conditioned fear is an important model both of inhibitory learning and of behavior therapy for human anxiety disorders. Like other forms of learning, extinction learning is long-lasting and depends on regulated gene expression. Epigenetic mechanisms make an important contribution to persistent changes in gene expression; therefore,…

  3. The effects of cannabinoids on contextual conditioned fear in CB1 knockout and CD1 mice.

    PubMed

    Mikics, Eva; Dombi, Timea; Barsvári, Beáta; Varga, Balázs; Ledent, Catherine; Freund, Tamás F; Haller, József

    2006-05-01

    We studied the effects of cannabinoids on contextual conditioned fear responses. CB1 knockout and wild-type (CD1) mice were exposed to a brief session of electric shocks, and their behavior was studied in the same context 24 h later. In wild-type mice, shock exposure increased freezing and resting, and decreased locomotion and exploration. The genetic disruption of the CB1 receptor abolished the conditioned fear response. The CB1 antagonist AM-251 reduced the peak of the conditioned fear response when applied 30 min before behavioral testing (i.e. 24 h after shocks) in CD1 (wild-type) mice. The cannabinoid agonist WIN-55,212-2 markedly increased the conditioned fear response in CD1 mice, the effect of which was potently antagonized by AM-251. Thus, cannabinoid receptor activation appears to strongly promote the expression of contextual conditioned fear. In earlier experiments, cannabinoids did not interfere with the expression of cue-induced conditioned fear but strongly promoted its extinction. Considering the primordial role of the amygdala in simple associative learning (e.g. in cue-induced fear) and the role of the hippocampus in learning more complex stimulus relationships (e.g. in contextual fear), the present and earlier findings are not necessarily contradictory, but suggest that cannabinoid signaling plays different roles in the two structures. Data are interpreted in terms of the potential involvement of cannabinoids in trauma-induced behavioral changes. PMID:16572000

  4. Sexually divergent expression of active and passive conditioned fear responses in rats

    PubMed Central

    Gruene, Tina M; Flick, Katelyn; Stefano, Alexis; Shea, Stephen D; Shansky, Rebecca M

    2015-01-01

    Traditional rodent models of Pavlovian fear conditioning assess the strength of learning by quantifying freezing responses. However, sole reliance on this measure includes the de facto assumption that any locomotor activity reflects an absence of fear. Consequently, alternative expressions of associative learning are rarely considered. Here we identify a novel, active fear response (‘darting’) that occurs primarily in female rats. In females, darting exhibits the characteristics of a learned fear behavior, appearing during the CS period as conditioning proceeds and disappearing from the CS period during extinction. This finding motivates a reinterpretation of rodent fear conditioning studies, particularly in females, and it suggests that conditioned fear behavior is more diverse than previously appreciated. Moreover, rats that darted during initial fear conditioning exhibited lower freezing during the second day of extinction testing, suggesting that females employ distinct and adaptive fear response strategies that improve long-term outcomes. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.11352.001 PMID:26568307

  5. Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) selected for low fear of humans are larger, more dominant and produce larger offspring.

    PubMed

    Agnvall, B; Ali, A; Olby, S; Jensen, P

    2014-09-01

    Many traits associated with domestication are suggested to have developed as correlated responses to reduced fear of humans. Tameness may have reduced the stress of living in human proximity and improved welfare in captivity. We selected Red Junglefowl (ancestors of all domestic chickens) for four generations on high or low fear towards humans, mimicking an important aspect of the earliest period of domestication, and tested birds from the third and fourth generation in three different social tests. Growth and plumage condition, as well as size of eggs and offspring were also recorded, as indicators of some aspects of welfare. Birds selected for low fear had higher weight, laid larger eggs and generated larger offspring, and had a better plumage condition. In a social dominance test they also performed more aggressive behaviour and received less of the same, regardless of whether the restricted resource was feed or not. Hence, dominance appeared to increase as a consequence of reduced fear of humans. Furthermore, egg size and the weight of the offspring were larger in the less fearful birds, and plumage condition better, which could be interpreted as the less fearful animals being better adapted to the environment in which they were selected. PMID:24910136

  6. Modeling fear‐conditioned bradycardia in humans

    PubMed Central

    Tzovara, Athina; Staib, Matthias; Paulus, Philipp C.; Hofer, Nicolas; Bach, Dominik R.

    2016-01-01

    Abstract Across species, cued fear conditioning is a common experimental paradigm to investigate aversive Pavlovian learning. While fear‐conditioned stimuli (CS+) elicit overt behavior in many mammals, this is not the case in humans. Typically, autonomic nervous system activity is used to quantify fear memory in humans, measured by skin conductance responses (SCR). Here, we investigate whether heart period responses (HPR) evoked by the CS, often observed in humans and small mammals, are suitable to complement SCR as an index of fear memory in humans. We analyze four datasets involving delay and trace conditioning, in which heart beats are identified via electrocardiogram or pulse oximetry, to show that fear‐conditioned heart rate deceleration (bradycardia) is elicited and robustly distinguishes CS+ from CS−. We then develop a psychophysiological model (PsPM) of fear‐conditioned HPR. This PsPM is inverted to yield estimates of autonomic input into the heart. We show that the sensitivity to distinguish CS+ and CS− (predictive validity) is higher for model‐based estimates than peak‐scoring analysis, and compare this with SCR. Our work provides a novel tool to investigate fear memory in humans that allows direct comparison between species. PMID:26950648

  7. D-Cycloserine Does Not Facilitate Fear Extinction by Reducing Conditioned Stimulus Processing or Promoting Conditioned Inhibition to Contextual Cues

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Baker, Kathryn D.; McNally, Gavan P.; Richardson, Rick

    2012-01-01

    The NMDA receptor partial agonist d-cycloserine (DCS) enhances the extinction of learned fear in rats and exposure therapy in humans with anxiety disorders. Despite these benefits, little is known about the mechanisms by which DCS promotes the loss of fear. The present study examined whether DCS augments extinction retention (1) through reductions…

  8. An egr-1 (zif268) Antisense Oligodeoxynucleotide Infused Into the Amygdala Disrupts Fear Conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Malkani, Seema; Wallace, Karin J.; Donley, Melanie P.; Rosen, Jeffrey B.

    2004-01-01

    Studies of gene expression following fear conditioning have demonstrated that the inducible transcription factor, egr-1, is increased in the lateral nucleus of the amygdala shortly following fear conditioning. These studies suggest that egr-1 and its protein product Egr-1 in the amygdala are important for learning and memory of fear. To directly test this hypothesis, an egr-1 antisense oligodeoxynucleotide (antisense-ODN) was injected bilaterally into the amygdala prior to contextual fear conditioning. The antisense-ODN reduced Egr-1 protein in the amygdala and interfered with fear conditioning. A 250-pmole dose produced an 11% decrease in Egr-1 protein and reduced long-term memory of fear as measured by freezing in a retention test 24 h after conditioning, but left shock-induced freezing intact. A larger 500-pmole dose produced a 25% reduction in Egr-1 protein and significantly decreased both freezing immediately following conditioning and freezing in the retention test. A nonsense-ODN had no effect on postshock or retention test freezing. In addition, 500 pmole of antisense-ODN infused prior to the retention test in previously trained rats did not reduce freezing, indicating that antisense-ODN did not suppress conditioned fear behavior. Finally, rats infused with 500 pmole of antisense-ODN displayed unconditioned fear to a predator odor, demonstrating that unconditioned freezing was unaffected by the antisense-ODN. The data indicate that the egr-1 antisense-ODN interferes with learning and memory processes of fear without affecting freezing behavior and suggests that the inducible transcription factor Egr-1 within the amygdala plays important functions in long-term learning and memory of fear. PMID:15466317

  9. Factors Regulating the Effects of Hippocampal Inactivation on Renewal of Conditional Fear after Extinction

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Corcoran, Kevin A.; Maren, Stephen

    2004-01-01

    After extinction of fear to a Pavlovian conditional stimulus (CS), contextual stimuli come to regulate the expression of fear to that CS. There is growing evidence that the context dependence of memory retrieval after extinction involves the hippocampus. In the present experiment, we examine whether hippocampal involvement in memory retrieval…

  10. Individual Differences in the Expression of Conditioned Fear Are Associated with Endogenous Fibroblast Growth Factor 2

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Graham, Bronwyn M.; Richardson, Rick

    2016-01-01

    These experiments examined the relationship between the neurotrophic factor fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) and individual differences in the expression of conditioned fear. Experiments 1 and 2 demonstrated that rats naturally expressing low levels of contextual or cued fear have higher levels of hippocampal FGF2 relative to rats that express…

  11. Exposure to Novelty Weakens Conditioned Fear in Long-Evans Rats

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Anderson, Matthew J.; Burpee, Tara E.; Wall, Matthew J.; McGraw, Justin J.

    2013-01-01

    The present study sought to determine whether post-training exposure to a novel or familiar object, encountered in either the location of the original fear conditioning (black compartment of a passive avoidance {PA} chamber) or in a neutral setting (open field where initial object training had occurred) would prove capable of reducing fear at…

  12. Brain Region-Specific Activity Patterns after Recent or Remote Memory Retrieval of Auditory Conditioned Fear

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Kwon, Jeong-Tae; Jhang, Jinho; Kim, Hyung-Su; Lee, Sujin; Han, Jin-Hee

    2012-01-01

    Memory is thought to be sparsely encoded throughout multiple brain regions forming unique memory trace. Although evidence has established that the amygdala is a key brain site for memory storage and retrieval of auditory conditioned fear memory, it remains elusive whether the auditory brain regions may be involved in fear memory storage or…

  13. Impairments in Fear Conditioning in Mice Lacking the nNOS Gene

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Kelley, Jonathan B.; Balda, Mara A.; Anderson, Karen L.; Itzhak, Yossef

    2009-01-01

    The fear conditioning paradigm is used to investigate the roles of various genes, neurotransmitters, and substrates in the formation of fear learning related to contextual and auditory cues. In the brain, nitric oxide (NO) produced by neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) functions as a retrograde neuronal messenger that facilitates synaptic…

  14. Different brain networks underlying the acquisition and expression of contextual fear conditioning: a metabolic mapping study.

    PubMed

    González-Pardo, H; Conejo, N M; Lana, G; Arias, J L

    2012-01-27

    The specific brain regions and circuits involved in the acquisition and expression of contextual fear conditioning are still a matter of debate. To address this issue, regional changes in brain metabolic capacity were mapped during the acquisition and expression of contextual fear conditioning using cytochrome oxidase (CO) quantitative histochemistry. In comparison with a group briefly exposed to a conditioning chamber, rats that received a series of randomly presented footshocks in the same conditioning chamber (fear acquisition group) showed increased CO activity in anxiety-related brain regions like the ventral periaqueductal gray, the ventral hippocampus, the lateral habenula, the mammillary bodies, and the laterodorsal thalamic nucleus. Another group received randomly presented footshocks, and it was re-exposed to the same conditioning chamber one week later (fear expression group). The conditioned group had significantly higher CO activity as compared with the matched control group in the following brain regions: the ventral periaqueductal gray, the central and lateral nuclei of the amygdala, and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. In addition, analysis of functional brain networks using interregional CO activity correlations revealed different patterns of functional connectivity between fear acquisition and fear expression groups. In particular, a network comprising the ventral hippocampus and amygdala nuclei was found in the fear acquisition group, whereas a closed reciprocal dorsal hippocampal network was detected in the fear expression group. These results suggest that contextual fear acquisition and expression differ as regards to the brain networks involved, although they share common brain regions involved in fear, anxiety, and defensive behavior. PMID:22173014

  15. Brain Structure Correlates of Individual Differences in the Acquisition and Inhibition of Conditioned Fear

    PubMed Central

    Hartley, Catherine A.; Fischl, Bruce

    2011-01-01

    Research employing aversive conditioning paradigms has elucidated the neurocircuitry involved in acquiring and diminishing fear responses. However, the factors underlying individual differences in fear acquisition and inhibition are not presently well understood. In this study, we explored whether the magnitude of individuals' acquired fear responses and the modulation of these responses via 2 fear reduction methods were correlated with structural differences in brain regions involved in affective processing. Physiological and structural magnetic resonance imaging data were obtained from experiments exploring extinction retention and intentional cognitive regulation. Our results identified 2 regions in which individual variation in brain structure correlated with subjects' fear-related arousal. Confirming previous results, increased thickness in ventromedial prefrontal cortex was correlated with the degree of extinction retention. Additionally, subjects with greater thickness in the posterior insula exhibited larger conditioned responses during acquisition. The data suggest a trend toward a negative correlation between amygdala volume and fear acquisition magnitude. There was no significant correlation between fear reduction via cognitive regulation and thickness in our prefrontal regions of interest. Acquisition and regulation measures were uncorrelated, suggesting that while certain individuals may have a propensity toward increased expression of conditioned fear, these responses can be diminished via both extinction and cognitive regulation. PMID:21263037

  16. Fear and panic in humans with bilateral amygdala damage.

    PubMed

    Feinstein, Justin S; Buzza, Colin; Hurlemann, Rene; Follmer, Robin L; Dahdaleh, Nader S; Coryell, William H; Welsh, Michael J; Tranel, Daniel; Wemmie, John A

    2013-03-01

    Decades of research have highlighted the amygdala's influential role in fear. We found that inhalation of 35% CO(2) evoked not only fear, but also panic attacks, in three rare patients with bilateral amygdala damage. These results indicate that the amygdala is not required for fear and panic, and make an important distinction between fear triggered by external threats from the environment versus fear triggered internally by CO(2). PMID:23377128

  17. Human Neural Stem Cells Overexpressing Choline Acetyltransferase Restore Unconditioned Fear in Rats with Amygdala Injury

    PubMed Central

    Shin, Kyungha; Cha, Yeseul; Kim, Kwang Sei; Choi, Ehn-Kyoung; Choi, Youngjin; Guo, Haiyu; Ban, Young-Hwan; Kim, Jong-Choon; Park, Dongsun; Kim, Yun-Bae

    2016-01-01

    Amygdala is involved in the fear memory that recognizes certain environmental cues predicting threatening events. Manipulation of neurotransmission within the amygdala affects the expression of conditioned and unconditioned emotional memories such as fear freezing behaviour. We previously demonstrated that F3.ChAT human neural stem cells (NSCs) overexpressing choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) improve cognitive function of Alzheimer's disease model rats with hippocampal or cholinergic nerve injuries by increasing acetylcholine (ACh) level. In the present study, we examined the effect of F3.ChAT cells on the deficit of unconditioned fear freezing. Rats given N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) in their amygdala 2 weeks prior to cat odor exposure displayed very short resting (freezing) time compared to normal animals. NMDA induced neuronal degeneration in the amygdala, leading to a decreased ACh concentration in cerebrospinal fluid. However, intracerebroventricular transplantation of F3.ChAT cells attenuated amygdala lesions 4 weeks after transplantation. The transplanted cells were found in the NMDA-injury sites and produced ChAT protein. In addition, F3.ChAT-receiving rats recuperated freezing time staying remote from the cat odor source, according to the recovery of brain ACh concentration. The results indicate that human NSCs overexpressing ChAT may facilitate retrieval of unconditioned fear memory by increasing ACh level. PMID:27087745

  18. Human Neural Stem Cells Overexpressing Choline Acetyltransferase Restore Unconditioned Fear in Rats with Amygdala Injury.

    PubMed

    Shin, Kyungha; Cha, Yeseul; Kim, Kwang Sei; Choi, Ehn-Kyoung; Choi, Youngjin; Guo, Haiyu; Ban, Young-Hwan; Kim, Jong-Choon; Park, Dongsun; Kim, Yun-Bae

    2016-01-01

    Amygdala is involved in the fear memory that recognizes certain environmental cues predicting threatening events. Manipulation of neurotransmission within the amygdala affects the expression of conditioned and unconditioned emotional memories such as fear freezing behaviour. We previously demonstrated that F3.ChAT human neural stem cells (NSCs) overexpressing choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) improve cognitive function of Alzheimer's disease model rats with hippocampal or cholinergic nerve injuries by increasing acetylcholine (ACh) level. In the present study, we examined the effect of F3.ChAT cells on the deficit of unconditioned fear freezing. Rats given N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) in their amygdala 2 weeks prior to cat odor exposure displayed very short resting (freezing) time compared to normal animals. NMDA induced neuronal degeneration in the amygdala, leading to a decreased ACh concentration in cerebrospinal fluid. However, intracerebroventricular transplantation of F3.ChAT cells attenuated amygdala lesions 4 weeks after transplantation. The transplanted cells were found in the NMDA-injury sites and produced ChAT protein. In addition, F3.ChAT-receiving rats recuperated freezing time staying remote from the cat odor source, according to the recovery of brain ACh concentration. The results indicate that human NSCs overexpressing ChAT may facilitate retrieval of unconditioned fear memory by increasing ACh level. PMID:27087745

  19. Repeated Exposure to Conditioned Fear Stress Increases Anxiety and Delays Sleep Recovery Following Exposure to an Acute Traumatic Stressor

    PubMed Central

    Greenwood, Benjamin N.; Thompson, Robert S.; Opp, Mark R.; Fleshner, Monika

    2014-01-01

    Repeated stressor exposure can sensitize physiological responses to novel stressors and facilitate the development of stress-related psychiatric disorders including anxiety. Disruptions in diurnal rhythms of sleep–wake behavior accompany stress-related psychiatric disorders and could contribute to their development. Complex stressors that include fear-eliciting stimuli can be a component of repeated stress experienced by human beings, but whether exposure to repeated fear can prime the development of anxiety and sleep disturbances is unknown. In the current study, adult male F344 rats were exposed to either control conditions or repeated contextual fear conditioning for 22 days followed by exposure to no, mild (10), or severe (100) acute uncontrollable tail shock stress. Exposure to acute stress produced anxiety-like behavior as measured by a reduction in juvenile social exploration and exaggerated shock-elicited freezing in a novel context. Prior exposure to repeated fear enhanced anxiety-like behavior as measured by shock-elicited freezing, but did not alter social exploratory behavior. The potentiation of anxiety produced by prior repeated fear was temporary; exaggerated fear was present 1 day but not 4 days following acute stress. Interestingly, exposure to acute stress reduced rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM (NREM) sleep during the hours immediately following acute stress. This initial reduction in sleep was followed by robust REM rebound and diurnal rhythm flattening of sleep/wake behavior. Prior repeated fear extended the acute stress-induced REM and NREM sleep loss, impaired REM rebound, and prolonged the flattening of the diurnal rhythm of NREM sleep following acute stressor exposure. These data suggest that impaired recovery of sleep/wake behavior following acute stress could contribute to the mechanisms by which a history of prior repeated stress increases vulnerability to subsequent novel stressors and stress-related disorders. PMID

  20. Maltreatment Exposure, Brain Structure, and Fear Conditioning in Children and Adolescents.

    PubMed

    McLaughlin, Katie A; Sheridan, Margaret A; Gold, Andrea L; Duys, Andrea; Lambert, Hilary K; Peverill, Matthew; Heleniak, Charlotte; Shechner, Tomer; Wojcieszak, Zuzanna; Pine, Daniel S

    2016-07-01

    Alterations in learning processes and the neural circuitry that supports fear conditioning and extinction represent mechanisms through which trauma exposure might influence risk for psychopathology. Few studies examine how trauma or neural structure relates to fear conditioning in children. Children (n=94) aged 6-18 years, 40.4% (n=38) with exposure to maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, or domestic violence), completed a fear conditioning paradigm utilizing blue and yellow bells as conditioned stimuli (CS+/CS-) and an aversive alarm noise as the unconditioned stimulus. Skin conductance responses (SCR) and self-reported fear were acquired. Magnetic resonance imaging data were acquired from 60 children. Children without maltreatment exposure exhibited strong differential conditioning to the CS+ vs CS-, based on SCR and self-reported fear. In contrast, maltreated children exhibited blunted SCR to the CS+ and failed to exhibit differential SCR to the CS+ vs CS- during early conditioning. Amygdala and hippocampal volume were reduced among children with maltreatment exposure and were negatively associated with SCR to the CS+ during early conditioning in the total sample, although these associations were negative only among non-maltreated children and were positive among maltreated children. The association of maltreatment with externalizing psychopathology was mediated by this perturbed pattern of fear conditioning. Child maltreatment is associated with failure to discriminate between threat and safety cues during fear conditioning in children. Poor threat-safety discrimination might reflect either enhanced fear generalization or a deficit in associative learning, which may in turn represent a central mechanism underlying the development of maltreatment-related externalizing psychopathology in children. PMID:26677946

  1. Fear conditioning enhances gamma oscillations and their entrainment of neurons representing the conditioned stimulus

    PubMed Central

    Headley, Drew B.; Weinberger, Norman M.

    2013-01-01

    Learning alters the responses of neurons in the neocortex, typically strengthening their encoding of behaviorally relevant stimuli. These enhancements are extensively studied in the auditory cortex by characterizing changes in firing rates and evoked potentials. However, synchronous activity is also important for the processing of stimuli, especially the relationship between gamma oscillations in the local field potential and spiking. We investigated whether tone/shock fear conditioning in rats, a task known to alter responses in auditory cortex, also modified the relationship between gamma and unit activity. A boost in gamma oscillations developed, especially at sites tuned near the tone, and strengthened across multiple conditioning sessions. Unit activity became increasingly phase-locked to gamma, with sites tuned near the tone developing enhanced phase-locking during the tone, while those tuned away maintained a tendency to decrease their phase-locking. Enhancements in the coordination of spiking between sites tuned near the tone developed within the first conditioning session, and remained throughout the rest of training. Enhanced cross-covariances in unit activity were strongest for subjects that exhibited robust conditioned fear. These results illustrate that changes in sensory cortex during associative learning extend to the coordination of neurons encoding the relevant stimulus, with implications for how it is processed downstream. PMID:23536084

  2. [Suppression of conditioned fear by administration of CCKB receptor antagonist PD135158].

    PubMed

    Tsutsumi, T; Isogawa, K; Kouno, Y; Hikichi, T; Nagayama, H; Akiyoshi, J

    1998-02-01

    The aim of this study is to determine whether or not CCKB receptor antagonist PD135158 suppresses conditioned fear. Rats were individually subjected to 30 min of inescapable electric footshock in a chamber with a grid floor. PD135158 or the vehicle was administered 30 min before placing the rats in the shock chamber again. The rats were observed for 5 min without receiving shock. The administration of PD135158 30 min before conditioned-fear stress significantly reduced freezing behavior. PD135158 blocked the expression of conditioned fear. PD135158 was again administered 30 min before footshock. Then, the rats were individually subjected to 30 min of inescapable electric footshock in the shock chamber. Twenty-four hours after receiving footshock, the rats were again placed in the shock chamber and observed for 5 min without shock administration. The administration of PD135158 30 min before footshock significantly reduced conditioned freezing. PD135158 blocked the anxiety of conditioned fear. PD135158 blocked not only the anxiety, but also the expression of conditioned fear. These results suggest that CCKB receptor might play an important role in conditioned-fear stress. They indicate that CCKB receptor is related to anxiety. PMID:9592807

  3. Social fear conditioning: a novel and specific animal model to study social anxiety disorder.

    PubMed

    Toth, Iulia; Neumann, Inga D; Slattery, David A

    2012-05-01

    Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a major health concern with high lifetime prevalence. The current medication is rather unspecific and, despite considerable efforts, its efficacy is still unsatisfactory. However, there are no appropriate and specific animal models available to study the underlying etiology of the disorder. Therefore, we aimed to establish a model of specific social fear in mice and use this social fear conditioning (SFC) model to assess the therapeutic efficacy of the benzodiazepine diazepam and of the antidepressant paroxetine; treatments currently used for SAD patients. We show that by administering electric foot shocks (2-5, 1 s, 0.7 mA) during the investigation of a con-specific, the investigation of unfamiliar con-specifics was reduced for both the short- and long-term, indicating lasting social fear. The induced fear was specific to social stimuli and did not lead to other behavioral alterations, such as fear of novelty, general anxiety, depression, and impaired locomotion. We show that social fear was dose-dependently reversed by acute diazepam, at doses that were not anxiolytic in a non-social context, such as the elevated plus maze. Finally, we show that chronic paroxetine treatment reversed social fear. All in all, we demonstrated robust social fear after exposure to SFC in mice, which was reversed with both acute benzodiazepine and chronic antidepressant treatment. We propose the SFC model as an appropriate animal model to identify the underlying etiology of SAD and possible novel treatment approaches. PMID:22237310

  4. Corticotropin releasing factor type-1 receptor antagonism in the dorsolateral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis disrupts contextually conditioned fear, but not unconditioned fear to a predator odor.

    PubMed

    Asok, Arun; Schulkin, Jay; Rosen, Jeffrey B

    2016-08-01

    The bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) plays a critical role in fear and anxiety. The BNST is important for contextual fear learning, but the mechanisms regulating this function remain unclear. One candidate mechanism is corticotropin-releasing-factor (CRF) acting at CRF type 1 receptors (CRFr1s). Yet, there has been little progress in elucidating if CRFr1s in the BNST are involved in different types of fear (conditioned and/or unconditioned). Therefore, the present study investigated the effect of antalarmin, a potent CRFr1 receptor antagonist, injected intracerebroventricularly (ICV) and into the dorsolateral BNST (LBNST) during single trial contextual fear conditioning or exposure to the predator odor 2,5-dihydro-2,4,5-trimethylthiazoline (TMT). Neither ICV nor LBNST antalarmin disrupted unconditioned freezing to TMT. In contrast, ICV and LBNST antalarmin disrupted the retention of contextual fear when tested 24h later. Neither ICV nor LBNST antalarmin affected baseline or post-shock freezing-indicating antalarmin does not interfere with the early phases of contextual fear acquisition. Antalarmin did not (1) permanently affect the ability to learn and express contextual fear, (2) change responsivity to footshocks, or (3) affect the ability to freeze. Our findings highlight an important role for CRFr1s within the LBNST during contextually conditioned fear, but not unconditioned predator odor fear. PMID:27153520

  5. Interplay between serotonin and cannabinoid function in the amygdala in fear conditioning.

    PubMed

    Nasehi, Mohammad; Davoudi, Kamelia; Ebrahimi-Ghiri, Mohaddeseh; Zarrindast, Mohammad-Reza

    2016-04-01

    The possible interactions between the cannabinoid and serotonin systems in the regions of the brain involved in emotional learning and memory formation have been studied by some researchers. In view of the key role of the amygdala in the acquisition and expression of fear memory, we investigated the involvement of basolateral amygdala (BLA) serotonin 5-HT4 receptors in arachidonylcyclopropylamide (ACPA; selective CB1 cannabinoid receptor agonist)-induced fear memory consolidation impairment. In our study, a context and tone fear conditioning apparatus was used for testing fear conditioning in adult male NMRI mice. The results showed that intraperitoneal administration of ACPA 0.5 or 0.05, 0.1 and 0.5mg/kg immediately after training decreased the percentage of freezing time in context or tone fear conditioning respectively, suggesting a context- or tone-dependent fear memory consolidation impairment. Post-training intra-BLA microinjections of RS67333, as 5-HT4 serotonin receptor agonist, at doses of 0.025 and 0.05 µg/mouse also impaired context or tone memory consolidation, while RS23597, as 5-HT4 serotonin receptor antagonist, did not produce a marked difference in both fear memories as compared with the control group. Moreover, a subthreshold dose of RS67333 did not alter ACPA response in both fear conditionings. Interestingly, a subthreshold dose of RS23597 potentiated or reversed ACPA response at the dose of 0.01 or 0.05 respectively. It is concluded that BLA serotonin 5-HT4 receptors are involved in tone-dependent fear memory consolidation impairment induced by CB1 activation using ACPA, suggesting a modulatory role for serotonin 5-HT4 receptor. PMID:26820636

  6. Fear Extinction in Rodents

    PubMed Central

    Chang, Chun-hui; Knapska, Ewelina; Orsini, Caitlin A.; Rabinak, Christine A.; Zimmerman, Joshua M.; Maren, Stephen

    2009-01-01

    Pavlovian conditioning paradigms have become important model systems for understanding the neuroscience of behavior. In particular, studies of the extinction of Pavlovian fear responses are yielding important information about the neural substrates of anxiety disorders in humans. These studies are germane to understanding the neural mechanisms underlying behavioral interventions that suppress fear, including exposure therapy. This chapter described detailed behavioral protocols for examining the nature and properties of fear extinction in laboratory rodents. PMID:19340814

  7. Involvement of the dopaminergic system in the consolidation of fear conditioning in hippocampal CA3 subregion.

    PubMed

    Wen, Jia-Ling; Xue, Li; Wang, Run-Hua; Chen, Zi-Xiang; Shi, Yan-Wei; Zhao, Hu

    2015-02-01

    The hippocampus, the primary brain structure related to learning and memory, receives sparse but comprehensive dopamine innervations and contains dopamine D1 and D2 receptors. Systematic hippocampal dopaminergic dysfunction can cause deficits in spatial working memory and impair consolidation of contextual fear memories. CA3 is involved in the rapid acquisition of new memories and has extensive nerve fibre connections with other brain structures such as CA1, the amygdala, and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). A bidirectional fibrous connection between CA3 and the amygdala reflects the importance of CA3 in fear conditioning. The present study evaluated the effects of a 6-OHDA lesion in CA3 on the acquisition and expression of conditioned fear. The results showed CA3 involvement in the expression but not the acquisition of conditioned fear. Injection of SCH23390 and quinpirole into the bilateral CA3 attenuated a conditioned fear-related freezing response, whereas SKF38393 and sulpiride were not associated with this effect. The present study found that a 6-OHDA lesion in CA3 up-regulated the expression of GluR1 in BLA and down-regulated NR2B in CA1 and the basolateral amygdala (BLA). Our data suggest that dopamine depletion in hippocampal subdivision CA3 may not be necessary for the acquisition of conditioned fear, but the expression of conditioned fear is likely dependent on the integrity of mesohippocampal dopaminergic connections. It is probable that both D1 and D2 dopaminergic receptors modulate the expression of conditioned fear. Changes in the expression of NR2B and GluR1 indicate that CA3 may modulate the activities of other brain structures. PMID:25446753

  8. The Role of Nucleus Accumbens Shell in Learning about Neutral versus Excitatory Stimuli during Pavlovian Fear Conditioning

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Bradfield, Laura A.; McNally, Gavan P.

    2010-01-01

    We studied the role of nucleus accumbens shell (AcbSh) in Pavlovian fear conditioning. Rats were trained to fear conditioned stimulus A (CSA) in Stage I, which was then presented in compound with a neutral stimulus and paired with shock in Stage II. AcbSh lesions had no effect on fear-learning to CSA in Stage I, but selectively prevented learning…

  9. Correlations between psychological tests and physiological responses during fear conditioning and renewal

    PubMed Central

    2012-01-01

    Background Anxiety disorders are characterized by specific emotions, thoughts and physiological responses. Little is known, however, about the relationship between psychological/personality indices of anxiety responses to fear stimuli. Methods We studied this relationship in healthy subjects by comparing scores on psychological and personality questionnaires with results of an experimental fear conditioning paradigm using a visual conditioned stimulus (CS). We measured skin conductance response (SCR) during habituation, conditioning, and extinction; subsequently testing for recall and renewal of fear 24 hours later. Results We found that multiple regression models explained 45% of the variance during conditioning to the CS+, and 24% of the variance during renewal of fear to the CS+. Factors that explained conditioning included lower levels of conscientiousness, increased baseline reactivity (SCL), and response to the shock (UCR). Low levels of extraversion correlated with greater renewal. No model could be found to explain extinction learning or extinction recall to the CS+. Conclusions The lack of correlation of fear extinction with personality and neuropsychological indices suggests that extinction may be less determined by trait variables and cognitive state, and may depend more on the subject’s current emotional state. The negative correlation between fear renewal and extraversion suggests that this personality characteristic may protect against post-treatment relapse of symptoms of anxiety disorders. PMID:22985550

  10. Effects of psilocybin on hippocampal neurogenesis and extinction of trace fear conditioning.

    PubMed

    Catlow, Briony J; Song, Shijie; Paredes, Daniel A; Kirstein, Cheryl L; Sanchez-Ramos, Juan

    2013-08-01

    Drugs that modulate serotonin (5-HT) synaptic concentrations impact neurogenesis and hippocampal (HPC)-dependent learning. The primary objective is to determine the extent to which psilocybin (PSOP) modulates neurogenesis and thereby affects acquisition and extinction of HPC-dependent trace fear conditioning. PSOP, the 5-HT2A agonist 25I-NBMeO and the 5-HT2A/C antagonist ketanserin were administered via an acute intraperitoneal injection to mice. Trace fear conditioning was measured as the amount of time spent immobile in the presence of the conditioned stimulus (CS, auditory tone), trace (silent interval) and post-trace interval over 10 trials. Extinction was determined by the number of trials required to resume mobility during CS, trace and post-trace when the shock was not delivered. Neurogenesis was determined by unbiased counts of cells in the dentate gyrus of the HPC birth-dated with BrdU co-expressing a neuronal marker. Mice treated with a range of doses of PSOP acquired a robust conditioned fear response. Mice injected with low doses of PSOP extinguished cued fear conditioning significantly more rapidly than high-dose PSOP or saline-treated mice. Injection of PSOP, 25I-NBMeO or ketanserin resulted in significant dose-dependent decreases in number of newborn neurons in hippocampus. At the low doses of PSOP that enhanced extinction, neurogenesis was not decreased, but rather tended toward an increase. Extinction of "fear conditioning" may be mediated by actions of the drugs at sites other than hippocampus such as the amygdala, which is known to mediate the perception of fear. Another caveat is that PSOP is not purely selective for 5-HT2A receptors. PSOP facilitates extinction of the classically conditioned fear response, and this, and similar agents, should be explored as potential treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and related conditions. PMID:23727882

  11. Overgeneralization of Conditioned Fear as a Pathogenic Marker of Panic Disorder

    PubMed Central

    Lissek, Shmuel; Rabin, Stephanie; Heller, Randi E.; Lukenbaugh, David; Geraci, Marilla; Pine, Daniel S.; Grillon, Christian

    2009-01-01

    Objective Classical conditioning features prominently in many etiological accounts of panic disorder. According to such accounts, neutral conditioned stimuli present during panic attacks acquire panicogenic properties. Conditioned stimuli triggering panic symptoms are not limited to the original conditioned stimuli but are thought to generalize to stimuli resembling those co-occurring with panic, resulting in the proliferation of panic cues. The authors conducted a laboratory-based assessment of this potential correlate of panic disorder by testing the degree to which panic patients and healthy subjects manifest generalization of conditioned fear. Method Nineteen patients with a DSM-IV-TR diagnosis of panic disorder and 19 healthy comparison subjects were recruited for the study. The fear-generalization paradigm consisted of 10 rings of graded size presented on a computer monitor; one extreme size was a conditioned danger cue, the other extreme a conditioned safety cue, and the eight rings of intermediary size created a continuum of similarity from one extreme to the other. Generalization was assessed by conditioned fear potentiating of the startle blink reflex as measured with electromyography (EMG). Results Panic patients displayed stronger conditioned generalization than comparison subjects, as reflected by startle EMG. Conditioned fear in panic patients generalized to rings with up to three units of dissimilarity to the conditioned danger cue, whereas generalization in comparison subjects was restricted to rings with only one unit of dissimilarity. Conclusions The findings demonstrate a marked proclivity toward fear overgeneralization in panic disorder and provide a methodology for laboratory-based investigations of this central, yet understudied, conditioning correlate of panic. Given the putative molecular basis of fear conditioning, these results may have implications for novel treatments and prevention in panic disorder. PMID:19917595

  12. Modulation of cannabinoid signaling by amygdala α2-adrenergic system in fear conditioning.

    PubMed

    Nasehi, Mohammad; Zamanparvar, Majid; Ebrahimi-Ghiri, Mohaddeseh; Zarrindast, Mohammad-Reza

    2016-03-01

    The noradrenergic system plays a critical role in the modulation of emotional state, primarily related to anxiety, arousal, and stress. Growing evidence suggests that the endocannabinoid system mediates stress responses and emotional homeostasis, in part, by targeting noradrenergic circuits. In addition, there is an interaction between the cannabinoid and noradrenergic system that has significant functional and behavioral implications. Considering the importance of these systems in forming memories for fearful events, we have investigated the involvement of basolateral amygdala (BLA) α2-adrenoceptors on ACPA (as selective cannabinoid CB1 agonist)-induced inhibition of the acquisition of contextual and auditory conditioned fear. A contextual and auditory fear conditioning apparatus for assess fear memory in adult male NMRI mice was used. Pre-training, intraperitoneal administration of ACPA decreased the percentage freezing time in contextual (at doses of 0.05 and 0.1mg/kg) and auditory (at dose of 0.1 mg/kg) in the fear conditioning task, indicating memory acquisition deficit. The same result was observed with intra-BLA microinjection of clonidine (0.001-0.5 μg/mouse, for both memories), as α2-adrenoceptor agonist and yohimbine (at doses of 0.005 and 0.05 for contextual and at dose of 0.05 μg/mouse for auditory fear memory), as α2-adrenoceptor antagonist. In addition, intra-BLA microinjection of clonidine (0.0005 μg/mouse) did not alter ACPA response in both conditions, while the same dose of yohimbine potentiated ACPA response at the lower dose on contextual fear memory. It is concluded that BLA α2-adrenergic receptors may be involved in context- but not tone-dependent fear memory impairment induced by activation of CB1 receptors. PMID:26698395

  13. Extinction in multiple virtual reality contexts diminishes fear reinstatement in humans

    PubMed Central

    Dunsmoor, Joseph E.; Åhs, Fredrik; Zielinski, David J.; LaBar, Kevin S.

    2014-01-01

    Although conditioned fear can be effectively extinguished by unreinforced exposure to a threat cue, fear responses tend to return when the cue is encountered some time after extinction (spontaneous recovery), in a novel environment (renewal), or following presentation of an aversive stimulus (reinstatement). As extinction represents a context-dependent form of new learning, one possible strategy to circumvent the return of fear is to conduct extinction across several environments. Here, we tested the effectiveness of multiple context extinction in a two-day fear conditioning experiment using 3-D virtual reality technology to create immersive, ecologically-valid context changes. Fear-potentiated startle served as the dependent measure. All three experimental groups initially acquired fear in a single context. A multiple extinction group then underwent extinction in three contexts, while a second group underwent extinction in the acquisition context and a third group underwent extinction in a single different context. All groups returned 24 hours later to test for return of fear in the extinction context (spontaneous recovery) and a novel context (renewal and reinstatement/test). Extinction in multiple contexts attenuated reinstatement of fear but did not reduce spontaneous recovery. Results from fear renewal were tendential. Our findings suggest that multi-context extinction can reduce fear relapse following an aversive event – an event that often induces return of fear in real-world settings -- and provides empirical support for conducting exposure-based clinical treatments across a variety of environments. PMID:24583374

  14. Extinction in multiple virtual reality contexts diminishes fear reinstatement in humans.

    PubMed

    Dunsmoor, Joseph E; Ahs, Fredrik; Zielinski, David J; LaBar, Kevin S

    2014-09-01

    Although conditioned fear can be effectively extinguished by unreinforced exposure to a threat cue, fear responses tend to return when the cue is encountered some time after extinction (spontaneous recovery), in a novel environment (renewal), or following presentation of an aversive stimulus (reinstatement). As extinction represents a context-dependent form of new learning, one possible strategy to circumvent the return of fear is to conduct extinction across several environments. Here, we tested the effectiveness of multiple context extinction in a two-day fear conditioning experiment using 3-D virtual reality technology to create immersive, ecologically-valid context changes. Fear-potentiated startle served as the dependent measure. All three experimental groups initially acquired fear in a single context. A multiple extinction group then underwent extinction in three contexts, while a second group underwent extinction in the acquisition context and a third group underwent extinction in a single different context. All groups returned 24h later to test for return of fear in the extinction context (spontaneous recovery) and a novel context (renewal and reinstatement/test). Extinction in multiple contexts attenuated reinstatement of fear but did not reduce spontaneous recovery. Results from fear renewal were tendential. Our findings suggest that multi-context extinction can reduce fear relapse following an aversive event--an event that often induces return of fear in real-world settings--and provides empirical support for conducting exposure-based clinical treatments across a variety of environments. PMID:24583374

  15. Histone modifications around individual BDNF gene promoters in prefrontal cortex are associated with extinction of conditioned fear.

    PubMed

    Bredy, Timothy W; Wu, Hao; Crego, Cortney; Zellhoefer, Jessica; Sun, Yi E; Barad, Mark

    2007-04-01

    Extinction of conditioned fear is an important model both of inhibitory learning and of behavior therapy for human anxiety disorders. Like other forms of learning, extinction learning is long-lasting and depends on regulated gene expression. Epigenetic mechanisms make an important contribution to persistent changes in gene expression; therefore, in these studies, we have investigated whether epigenetic regulation of gene expression contributes to fear extinction. Since brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is crucial for synaptic plasticity and for the maintenance of long-term memory, we examined histone modifications around two BDNF gene promoters after extinction of cued fear, as potential targets of learning-induced epigenetic regulation of gene expression. Valproic acid (VPA), used for some time as an anticonvulsant and a mood stabilizer, modulates the expression of BDNF, and is a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor. Here, we report that extinction of conditioned fear is accompanied by a significant increase in histone H4 acetylation around the BDNF P4 gene promoter and increases in BDNF exon I and IV mRNA expression in prefrontal cortex, that VPA enhances long-term memory for extinction because of its HDAC inhibitor effects, and that VPA potentiates the effect of weak extinction training on histone H4 acetylation around both the BDNF P1 and P4 gene promoters and on BDNF exon IV mRNA expression. These results suggest a relationship between histone H4 modification, epigenetic regulation of BDNF gene expression, and long-term memory for extinction of conditioned fear. In addition, they suggest that HDAC inhibitors may become a useful pharmacological adjunct to psychotherapy for human anxiety disorders. PMID:17522015

  16. Trait anxiety and perceptual load as determinants of emotion processing in a fear conditioning paradigm.

    PubMed

    Fox, Elaine; Yates, Alan; Ashwin, Chris

    2012-04-01

    The impact of trait anxiety and perceptual load on selective attention was examined in a fear conditioning paradigm. A fear-conditioned angry face (CS+), an unconditioned angry face (CS-), or an unconditioned face with a neutral or happy expression were used in distractor interference and attentional probe tasks. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants classified centrally presented letters under two conditions of perceptual load. When perceptual load was high, distractors had no effect on selective attention, even with aversive conditioning. However, when perceptual load was low, strong response interference effects for CS+ face distractors were found for low trait-anxious participants. Across both experiments, this enhanced distractor interference reversed to strong facilitation effects for those reporting high trait anxiety. Thus, high trait-anxious participants were faster, rather than slower, when ignoring CS+ distractors. Using an attentional probe task in Experiment 3, it was found that fear conditioning resulted in strong attentional avoidance in a high trait-anxious group, which contrasted with enhanced vigilance in a low trait-anxious group. These results demonstrate that the impact of fear conditioning on attention is modulated by individual variation in trait anxiety when perceptual load is low. Fear conditioning elicits an avoidance of threat-relevant stimuli in high trait-anxious participants. PMID:21875186

  17. Trait Anxiety and Perceptual Load as Determinants of Emotion Processing in a Fear Conditioning Paradigm

    PubMed Central

    Fox, Elaine; Yates, Alan; Ashwin, Chris

    2012-01-01

    The impact of trait anxiety and perceptual load on selective attention was examined in a fear conditioning paradigm. A fear-conditioned angry face (CS+), an unconditioned angry face (CS−), or an unconditioned face with a neutral or happy expression were used in distractor interference and attentional probe tasks. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants classified centrally presented letters under two conditions of perceptual load. When perceptual load was high, distractors had no effect on selective attention, even with aversive conditioning. However, when perceptual load was low, strong response interference effects for CS+ face distractors were found for low trait-anxious participants. Across both experiments, this enhanced distractor interference reversed to strong facilitation effects for those reporting high trait anxiety. Thus, high trait-anxious participants were faster, rather than slower, when ignoring CS+ distractors. Using an attentional probe task in Experiment 3, it was found that fear conditioning resulted in strong attentional avoidance in a high trait-anxious group, which contrasted with enhanced vigilance in a low trait-anxious group. These results demonstrate that the impact of fear conditioning on attention is modulated by individual variation in trait anxiety when perceptual load is low. Fear conditioning elicits an avoidance of threat-relevant stimuli in high trait-anxious participants. PMID:21875186

  18. The Development of Skin Conductance Fear Conditioning in Children from Ages 3 to 8 Years

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Gao, Yu; Raine, Adrian; Venables, Peter H.; Dawson, Michael E.; Mednick, Sarnoff A.

    2010-01-01

    Although fear conditioning is an important psychological construct implicated in behavioral and emotional problems, little is known about how it develops in early childhood. Using a differential, partial reinforcement conditioning paradigm, this longitudinal study assessed skin conductance conditioned responses in 200 children at ages 3, 4, 5, 6,…

  19. Cannabinoid modulation of prefrontal-limbic activation during fear extinction learning and recall in humans.

    PubMed

    Rabinak, Christine A; Angstadt, Mike; Lyons, Maryssa; Mori, Shoko; Milad, Mohammed R; Liberzon, Israel; Phan, K Luan

    2014-09-01

    Pre-extinction administration of Δ9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) facilitates recall of extinction in healthy humans, and evidence from animal studies suggest that this likely occurs via enhancement of the cannabinoid system within the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and hippocampus (HIPP), brain structures critical to fear extinction. However, the effect of cannabinoids on the underlying neural circuitry of extinction memory recall in humans has not been demonstrated. We conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, between-subjects design (N=14/group) coupled with a standard Pavlovian fear extinction paradigm and an acute pharmacological challenge with oral dronabinol (synthetic THC) in healthy adult volunteers. We examined the effects of THC on vmPFC and HIPP activation when tested for recall of extinction learning 24 h after extinction learning. Compared to subjects who received placebo, participants who received THC showed increased vmPFC and HIPP activation to a previously extinguished conditioned stimulus (CS+E) during extinction memory recall. This study provides the first evidence that pre-extinction administration of THC modulates prefrontal-limbic circuits during fear extinction in humans and prompts future investigation to test if cannabinoid agonists can rescue or correct the impaired behavioral and neural function during extinction recall in patients with PTSD. Ultimately, the cannabinoid system may serve as a promising target for innovative intervention strategies (e.g. pharmacological enhancement of exposure-based therapy) in PTSD and other fear learning-related disorders. PMID:24055595

  20. Cannabinoid modulation of prefrontal-limbic activation during fear extinction learning and recall in humans

    PubMed Central

    Rabinak, Christine A.; Angstadt, Mike; Lyons, Maryssa; Mori, Shoko; Milad, Mohammed R.; Liberzon, Israel; Phan, K. Luan

    2013-01-01

    Pre-extinction administration of ∆9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) facilitates recall of extinction in healthy humans, and evidence from animal studies suggest that this likely involves via enhancement of the cannabinoid system within the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and hippocampus (HIPP), brain structures critical to fear extinction. However, the effect of cannabinoids on the underlying neural circuitry of extinction memory recall in humans has not been demonstrated. We conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, between-subjects design (N=14/group) coupled with a standard Pavlovian fear extinction paradigm and an acute pharmacological challenge with oral dronabinol (synthetic THC) in healthy adult volunteers. We examined the effects of THC on vmPFC and HIPP activation when tested for recall of extinction learning 24 hours after extinction learning. Compared to subjects who received placebo, participants who received THC showed increased vmPFC and HIPP activation to a previously extinguished conditioned stimulus (CS+E) during extinction memory recall. This study provides the first evidence that pre-extinction administration of THC modulates prefrontal-limbic circuits during fear extinction in humans and prompts future investigation to test if cannabinoid agonists can rescue or correct the impaired behavioral and neural function during extinction recall in patients with PTSD. Ultimately, the cannabinoid system may serve as a promising target for innovative intervention strategies (e.g. pharmacological enhancement of exposure-based therapy) in PTSD and other fear learning-related disorders. PMID:24055595

  1. Brain region-specific activity patterns after recent or remote memory retrieval of auditory conditioned fear.

    PubMed

    Kwon, Jeong-Tae; Jhang, Jinho; Kim, Hyung-Su; Lee, Sujin; Han, Jin-Hee

    2012-01-01

    Memory is thought to be sparsely encoded throughout multiple brain regions forming unique memory trace. Although evidence has established that the amygdala is a key brain site for memory storage and retrieval of auditory conditioned fear memory, it remains elusive whether the auditory brain regions may be involved in fear memory storage or retrieval. To investigate this possibility, we systematically imaged the brain activity patterns in the lateral amygdala, MGm/PIN, and AuV/TeA using activity-dependent induction of immediate early gene zif268 after recent and remote memory retrieval of auditory conditioned fear. Consistent with the critical role of the amygdala in fear memory, the zif268 activity in the lateral amygdala was significantly increased after both recent and remote memory retrieval. Interesting, however, the density of zif268 (+) neurons in both MGm/PIN and AuV/TeA, particularly in layers IV and VI, was increased only after remote but not recent fear memory retrieval compared to control groups. Further analysis of zif268 signals in AuV/TeA revealed that conditioned tone induced stronger zif268 induction compared to familiar tone in each individual zif268 (+) neuron after recent memory retrieval. Taken together, our results support that the lateral amygdala is a key brain site for permanent fear memory storage and suggest that MGm/PIN and AuV/TeA might play a role for remote memory storage or retrieval of auditory conditioned fear, or, alternatively, that these auditory brain regions might have a different way of processing for familiar or conditioned tone information at recent and remote time phases. PMID:22993170

  2. Generalization of Pain-Related Fear Using a Left-Right Hand Judgment Conditioning Task.

    PubMed

    Meulders, Ann; Harvie, Daniel S; Lorimer Moseley, G; Vlaeyen, Johan W S

    2015-09-01

    Recent research suggests that the mere intention to perform a painful movement can elicit pain-related fear. Based on these findings, the present study aimed to determine whether imagining a movement that is associated with pain (CS+) can start to elicit conditioned pain-related fear as well and whether pain-related fear elicited by imagining a painful movement can spread towards novel, similar but distinct imagined movements. We proposed a new experimental paradigm that integrates the left-right hand judgment task (HJT) with a differential fear conditioning procedure. During Acquisition, one hand posture (CS+) was consistently followed by a painful electrocutaneous stimulus (pain-US) and another hand posture (CS-) was not. Participants were instructed to make left-right judgments, which involve mentally rotating their own hand to match the displayed hand postures (i.e., motor imagery). During Generalization, participants were presented with a series of novel hand postures with six grades of perceptual similarity to the CS+ (generalization stimuli; GSs). Finally, during Extinction, the CS+ hand posture was no longer reinforced. The results showed that (1) a painful hand posture triggers fear and increased US-expectancy as compared to a nonpainful hand posture, (2) this pain-related fear spreads to similar but distinct hand postures following a generalization gradient, and subsequently, (3) it can be successfully reduced during extinction. These effects were apparent in the verbal ratings, but not in the startle measures. Because of the lack of effect in the startle measures, we cannot draw firm conclusions about whether the "imagined movements" (i.e., motor imagery of the hand postures) gained associative strength rather than the hand posture pictures itself. From a clinical perspective, basic research into generalization of pain-related fear triggered by covert CSs such as intentions, imagined movements and movement-related cognitions might further our

  3. Relationship between Fear Conditionability and Aversive Memories: Evidence from a Novel Conditioned-Intrusion Paradigm

    PubMed Central

    Wegerer, Melanie; Blechert, Jens; Kerschbaum, Hubert; Wilhelm, Frank H.

    2013-01-01

    Intrusive memories – a hallmark symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – are often triggered by stimuli possessing similarity with cues that predicted or accompanied the traumatic event. According to learning theories, intrusive memories can be seen as a conditioned response to trauma reminders. However, direct laboratory evidence for the link between fear conditionability and intrusive memories is missing. Furthermore, fear conditioning studies have predominantly relied on standardized aversive stimuli (e.g. electric stimulation) that bear little resemblance to typical traumatic events. To investigate the general relationship between fear conditionability and aversive memories, we tested 66 mentally healthy females in a novel conditioned-intrusion paradigm designed to model real-life traumatic experiences. The paradigm included a differential fear conditioning procedure with neutral sounds as conditioned stimuli and short violent film clips as unconditioned stimuli. Subsequent aversive memories were assessed through a memory triggering task (within 30 minutes, in the laboratory) and ambulatory assessment (involuntary aversive memories in the 2 days following the experiment). Skin conductance responses and subjective ratings demonstrated successful differential conditioning indicating that naturalistic aversive film stimuli can be used in a fear conditioning experiment. Furthermore, aversive memories were elicited in response to the conditioned stimuli during the memory triggering task and also occurred in the 2 days following the experiment. Importantly, participants who displayed higher conditionability showed more aversive memories during the memory triggering task and during ambulatory assessment. This suggests that fear conditioning constitutes an important source of persistent aversive memories. Implications for PTSD and its treatment are discussed. PMID:24244407

  4. Brain c-Fos immunocytochemistry and cytochrome oxidase histochemistry after a fear conditioning task.

    PubMed

    Conejo, Nélida M; González Pardo, Héctor; López, Matías; Cantora, Raúl; Arias, Jorge L

    2007-05-01

    The involvement of the basolateral and the medial amygdala in fear conditioning was evaluated using different markers of neuronal activation. The method described here is a combination of cytochrome oxidase (CO) histochemistry and c-Fos immunocytochemistry on fresh frozen brain sections. Freezing behavior was used as an index of auditory and contextual fear conditioning. As expected, freezing scores were significantly higher in rats exposed to tone-shock pairings in a distinctive environment (conditioned; COND), as compared to rats that did not receive any shocks (UNCD). CO labeling was increased in the basolateral and medial amygdala of the COND group. Conversely, c-Fos expression in the basolateral and medial amygdala was lower in the COND group as compared to the UNCD group. Furthermore, c-Fos expression was particularly high in the medial amygdala of the UNCD group. The data provided by both techniques indicate that these amygdalar nuclei could play different roles on auditory and contextual fear conditioning. PMID:17425902

  5. Knockdown of corticotropin-releasing factor 1 receptors in the ventral tegmental area enhances conditioned fear.

    PubMed

    Chen, Nicola A; Ganella, Despina E; Bathgate, Ross A D; Chen, Alon; Lawrence, Andrew J; Kim, Jee Hyun

    2016-09-01

    The neuropeptide corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) coordinates the physiological and behavioural responses to stress. CRF receptors are highly expressed in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), an important region for motivated behaviour. Therefore, we examined the role of CRF receptor type 1 (CRFR1) in the VTA in conditioned fear, using a viral-mediated RNA interference approach. Following stereotaxic injection of a lentivirus that contained either shCRF-R1 or a control sequence, mice received tone-footshock pairings. Intra-VTA shCRF-R1 did not affect tone-elicited freezing during conditioning. Once conditioned fear was acquired, however, shCRF-R1 mice consistently showed stronger freezing to the tone even after extinction and reinstatement. These results implicate a novel role of VTA CRF-R1 in conditioned fear, and suggest how stress may modulate aversive learning and memory. PMID:27397862

  6. Contextual fear conditioning in virtual reality is affected by 5HTTLPR and NPSR1 polymorphisms: effects on fear-potentiated startle

    PubMed Central

    Glotzbach-Schoon, Evelyn; Andreatta, Marta; Reif, Andreas; Ewald, Heike; Tröger, Christian; Baumann, Christian; Deckert, Jürgen; Mühlberger, Andreas; Pauli, Paul

    2013-01-01

    The serotonin (5-HT) and neuropeptide S (NPS) systems are discussed as important genetic modulators of fear and sustained anxiety contributing to the etiology of anxiety disorders. Sustained anxiety is a crucial characteristic of most anxiety disorders which likely develops through contextual fear conditioning. This study investigated if and how genetic alterations of the 5-HT and the NPS systems as well as their interaction modulate contextual fear conditioning; specifically, function polymorphic variants in the genes coding for the 5-HT transporter (5HTT) and the NPS receptor (NPSR1) were studied. A large group of healthy volunteers was therefore stratified for 5HTTLPR (S+ vs. LL carriers) and NPSR1 rs324981 (T+ vs. AA carriers) polymorphisms resulting in four genotype groups (S+/T+, S+/AA, LL/T+, LL/AA) of 20 participants each. All participants underwent contextual fear conditioning and extinction using a virtual reality (VR) paradigm. During acquisition, one virtual office room (anxiety context, CXT+) was paired with an unpredictable electric stimulus (unconditioned stimulus, US), whereas another virtual office room was not paired with any US (safety context, CXT−). During extinction no US was administered. Anxiety responses were quantified by fear-potentiated startle and ratings. Most importantly, we found a gene × gene interaction on fear-potentiated startle. Only carriers of both risk alleles (S+/T+) exhibited higher startle responses in CXT+ compared to CXT−. In contrast, anxiety ratings were only influenced by the NPSR1 polymorphism with AA carriers showing higher anxiety ratings in CXT+ as compared to CXT−. Our results speak in favor of a two level account of fear conditioning with diverging effects on implicit vs. explicit fear responses. Enhanced contextual fear conditioning as reflected in potentiated startle responses may be an endophenotype for anxiety disorders. PMID:23630477

  7. Evidence for recovery of fear following immediate extinction in rats and humans

    PubMed Central

    Schiller, Daniela; Cain, Christopher K.; Curley, Nina G.; Schwartz, Jennifer S.; Stern, Sarah A.; LeDoux, Joseph E.; Phelps, Elizabeth A.

    2008-01-01

    Fear responses can be eliminated through extinction, a procedure involving the presentation of fear-eliciting stimuli without aversive outcomes. Extinction is believed to be mediated by new inhibitory learning that acts to suppress fear expression without erasing the original memory trace. This hypothesis is supported mainly by behavioral data demonstrating that fear can recover following extinction. However, a recent report by Myers and coworkers suggests that extinction conducted immediately after fear learning may erase or prevent the consolidation of the fear memory trace. Since extinction is a major component of nearly all behavioral therapies for human fear disorders, this finding supports the notion that therapeutic intervention beginning very soon after a traumatic event will be more efficacious. Given the importance of this issue, and the controversy regarding immediate versus delayed therapeutic interventions, we examined two fear recovery phenomena in both rats and humans: spontaneous recovery (SR) and reinstatement. We found evidence for SR and reinstatement in both rats and humans even when extinction was conducted immediately after fear learning. Thus, our data do not support the hypothesis that immediate extinction erases the original memory trace, nor do they suggest that a close temporal proximity of therapeutic intervention to the traumatic event might be advantageous. PMID:18509113

  8. A cholinergic-dependent role for the entorhinal cortex in trace fear conditioning.

    PubMed

    Esclassan, Frederic; Coutureau, Etienne; Di Scala, Georges; Marchand, Alain R

    2009-06-24

    Trace conditioning is considered a model of higher cognitive involvement in simple associative tasks. Studies of trace conditioning have shown that cortical areas and the hippocampal formation are required to associate events that occur at different times. However, the mechanisms that bridge the trace interval during the acquisition of trace conditioning remain unknown. In four experiments with fear conditioning in rats, we explored the involvement of the entorhinal cortex (EC) in the acquisition of fear under a trace-30 s protocol. We first determined that pretraining neurotoxic lesions of the EC selectively impaired trace-, but not delay-conditioned fear as evaluated by freezing behavior. A local cholinergic deafferentation of the EC using 192-IgG-saporin did not replicate this deficit, presumably because cholinergic interneurons were spared by the toxin. However, pretraining local blockade of EC muscarinic receptors with the M1 antagonist pirenzepine yielded a specific and dose-dependent deficit in trace-conditioned responses. The same microinjections performed after conditioning were without effect on trace fear responses. These effects of blocking M1 receptors are consistent with the notion that conditioned stimulus (CS)-elicited, acetylcholine-dependent persistent activities in the EC are needed to maintain a representation of a tone CS across the trace interval during the acquisition of trace conditioning. This function of the EC is consistent with recent views of this region as a short-term stimulus buffer. PMID:19553448

  9. Post-Extinction Conditional Stimulus Valence Predicts Reinstatement Fear: Relevance for Long Term Outcomes of Exposure Therapy

    PubMed Central

    Zbozinek, Tomislav D.; Hermans, Dirk; Prenoveau, Jason M.; Liao, Betty; Craske, Michelle G.

    2014-01-01

    Exposure therapy for anxiety disorders is translated from fear conditioning and extinction. While exposure therapy is effective in treating anxiety, fear sometimes returns after exposure. One pathway for return of fear is reinstatement: unsignaled unconditional stimuli following completion of extinction. The present study investigated the extent to which valence of the conditional stimulus (CS+) after extinction predicts return of CS+ fear after reinstatement. Participants (N = 84) engaged in a differential fear conditioning paradigm and were randomized to reinstatement or non-reinstatement. We hypothesized that more negative post-extinction CS+ valence would predict higher CS+ fear after reinstatement relative to non-reinstatement and relative to extinction retest. Results supported the hypotheses and suggest that strategies designed to decrease negative valence of the CS+ may reduce the return of fear via reinstatement following exposure therapy. PMID:24957680

  10. Ketamine administration diminishes operant responding but does not impair conditioned fear.

    PubMed

    Groeber Travis, Caitlin M; Altman, Daniel E; Genovese, Raymond F

    2015-12-01

    While not well understood, the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) antagonist ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic, has been reported to be efficacious in depression and related psychological disorders. Conditioned fear is a normal emotional conditioning process that is known to become dysfunctional in individuals suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and related stress disorders. We examined the effects of ketamine to determine the potential modulation of the acquisition and extinction of a conditioned fear using a conditioned suppression procedure. Rats were trained on a variable interval (VI), food maintained, operant conditioning task to establish a general measure of performance. Rats were exposed to inescapable shock (IES, unconditioned stimulus) paired (×20) with an audio/visual conditioned stimulus (CS) to establish conditioning. Conditioning was quantified by measuring response suppression following CS presentation during subsequent extinction trials where the CS alone was presented. Ketamine or vehicle was administered either after initial conditioning or after each of the subsequent extinction trials. For each regimen, a series of four injections were administered 60 min apart (100, 50, 50, 50 mg/kg, respectively) in order to sustain a ketamine effect for a minimum of 4 h. Ketamine produced a general decrease in responding on the VI, relative to baseline, as response rates were slower on the operant task when tested 24 h later and longer. Ketamine did not affect the acquisition of the conditioned fear when the regimen was administered shortly after the initial pairings of IES and CS. Ketamine did not alter extinction to the conditioned fear when the regimen was administered following each CS only presentation following initial conditioning. Our conclusion from these findings is that while ketamine alters behavior on an appetitively motivated operant task it does not, however, appear to directly modulate learning and memory processes associated

  11. Stress-induced enhancement of fear conditioning and sensitization facilitates extinction-resistant and habituation-resistant fear behaviors in a novel animal model of posttraumatic stress disorder.

    PubMed

    Corley, Michael J; Caruso, Michael J; Takahashi, Lorey K

    2012-01-18

    Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by stress-induced symptoms including exaggerated fear memories, hypervigilance and hyperarousal. However, we are unaware of an animal model that investigates these hallmarks of PTSD especially in relation to fear extinction and habituation. Therefore, to develop a valid animal model of PTSD, we exposed rats to different intensities of footshock stress to determine their effects on either auditory predator odor fear extinction or habituation of fear sensitization. In Experiment 1, rats were exposed to acute footshock stress (no shock control, 0.4 mA, or 0.8 mA) immediately prior to auditory fear conditioning training involving the pairing of auditory clicks with a cloth containing cat odor. When presented to the conditioned auditory clicks in the next 5 days of extinction testing conducted in a runway apparatus with a hide box, rats in the two shock groups engaged in higher levels of freezing and head out vigilance-like behavior from the hide box than the no shock control group. This increase in fear behavior during extinction testing was likely due to auditory activation of the conditioned fear state because Experiment 2 demonstrated that conditioned fear behavior was not broadly increased in the absence of the conditioned auditory stimulus. Experiment 3 was then conducted to determine whether acute exposure to stress induces a habituation resistant sensitized fear state. We found that rats exposed to 0.8 mA footshock stress and subsequently tested for 5 days in the runway hide box apparatus with presentations of nonassociative auditory clicks exhibited high initial levels of freezing, followed by head out behavior and culminating in the occurrence of locomotor hyperactivity. In addition, Experiment 4 indicated that without delivery of nonassociative auditory clicks, 0.8 mA footshock stressed rats did not exhibit robust increases in sensitized freezing and locomotor hyperactivity, albeit head out vigilance

  12. Heart rate response to fear conditioning and virtual reality in subthreshold PTSD.

    PubMed

    Roy, Michael J; Costanzo, Michelle E; Jovanovic, Tanja; Leaman, Suzanne; Taylor, Patricia; Norrholm, Seth D; Rizzo, Albert A

    2013-01-01

    Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a significant health concern for U.S. military service members (SMs) returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Early intervention to prevent chronic disability requires greater understanding of subthreshold PTSD symptoms, which are associated with impaired physical health, mental health, and risk for delayed onset PTSD. We report a comparison of physiologic responses for recently deployed SMs with high and low subthreshold PTSD symptoms, respectively, to a fear conditioning task and novel virtual reality paradigm (Virtual Iraq). The high symptom group demonstrated elevated heart rate (HR) response during fear conditioning. Virtual reality sequences evoked significant HR responses which predicted variance of the PTSD Checklist-Military Version self-report. Our results support the value of physiologic assessment during fear conditioning and combat-related virtual reality exposure as complementary tools in detecting subthreshold PTSD symptoms in Veterans. PMID:23792855

  13. L-type Voltage-Gated Calcium Channels in Conditioned Fear: A Genetic and Pharmacological Analysis

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    McKinney, Brandon C.; Sze, Wilson; White, Jessica A.; Murphy, Geoffrey G.

    2008-01-01

    Using pharmacological approaches, others have suggested that L-type voltage-gated calcium channels (L-VGCCs) mediate both consolidation and extinction of conditioned fear. In the absence of L-VGCC isoform-specific antagonists, we have begun to investigate the subtype-specific role of LVGCCs in consolidation and extinction of conditioned fear…

  14. Extensive Extinction in Multiple Contexts Eliminates the Renewal of Conditioned Fear in Rats

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Thomas, Brian L.; Vurbic, Drina; Novak, Cheryl

    2009-01-01

    Two studies examined whether nonreinforcement of a stimulus in multiple contexts, instead of a single context, would decrease renewal of conditioned fear in rats (as assessed by conditioned suppression of lever pressing). In Experiment 1, renewal was measured after 36 nonreinforced CS trials delivered during six extinction sessions in a single…

  15. Microstimulation Reveals Opposing Influences of Prelimbic and Infralimbic Cortex on the Expression of Conditioned Fear

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Vidal-Gonzalez, Ivan; Rauch, Scott L.; Quirk, Gregory J.; Vidal-Gonzalez, Benjamin

    2006-01-01

    Recent studies using lesion, infusion, and unit-recording techniques suggest that the infralimbic (IL) subregion of medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is necessary for the inhibition of conditioned fear following extinction. Brief microstimulation of IL paired with conditioned tones, designed to mimic neuronal tone responses, reduces the expression…

  16. Cholinergic Modulation of the Hippocampus during Encoding and Retrieval of Tone/Shock-Induced Fear Conditioning

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Rogers, Jason L.; Kesner, Raymond P.

    2004-01-01

    We investigated the role of acetylcholine (ACh) during encoding and retrieval of tone/shock-induced fear conditioning with the aim of testing Hasselmo's cholinergic modulation model of encoding and retrieval using a task sensitive to hippocampal disruption. Lesions of the hippocampus impair acquisition and retention of contextual conditioning with…

  17. The Role of the Nucleus Basalis Magnocellularis in Fear Conditioning Consolidation in the Rat

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Baldi, Elisabetta; Mariottini, Chiara; Bucherelli, Corrado

    2007-01-01

    The nucleus basalis magnocellularis (NBM) is known to be involved in the memorization of several conditioned responses. To investigate the role of the NBM in fear conditioning memorization, this neural site was subjected to fully reversible tetrodotoxin (TTX) inactivation during consolidation in adult male Wistar rats that had undergone fear…

  18. Mild Transient Hypercapnia as a Novel Fear Conditioning Stimulus Allowing Re-Exposure during Sleep

    PubMed Central

    Balbir, Alex; Germain, Anne; O’Donnell, Christopher P.

    2013-01-01

    Introduction Studies suggest that sleep plays a role in traumatic memories and that treatment of sleep disorders may help alleviate symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. Fear-conditioning paradigms in rodents are used to investigate causal mechanisms of fear acquisition and the relationship between sleep and posttraumatic behaviors. We developed a novel conditioning stimulus (CS) that evoked fear and was subsequently used to study re-exposure to the CS during sleep. Methods Experiment 1 assessed physiological responses to a conditioned stimulus (mild transient hypercapnia, mtHC; 3.0% CO2; n = 17)+footshock for the purpose of establishing a novel CS in male FVB/J mice. Responses to the novel CS were compared to tone+footshock (n = 18) and control groups of tone alone (n = 17) and mild transient hypercapnia alone (n = 10). A second proof of principle experiment re-exposed animals during sleep to mild transient hypercapnia or air (control) to study sleep processes related to the CS. Results Footshock elicited a response of acute tachycardia (30–40 bpm) and increased plasma epinephrine. When tone predicted footshock it elicited mild hypertension (1–2 mmHg) and a three-fold increase in plasma epinephrine. When mtHC predicted footshock it also induced mild hypertension, but additionally elicited a conditioned bradycardia and a smaller increase in plasma epinephrine. The overall mean 24 hour sleep–wake profile was unaffected immediately after fear conditioning. Discussion Our study demonstrates the efficacy of mtHC as a conditioning stimulus that is perceptible but innocuous (relative to tone) and applicable during sleep. This novel model will allow future studies to explore sleep-dependent mechanisms underlying maladaptive fear responses, as well as elucidate the moderators of the relationship between fear responses and sleep. PMID:23840700

  19. Fear conditioning in mouse lines genetically selected for binge-like ethanol drinking.

    PubMed

    Crabbe, John C; Schlumbohm, Jason P; Hack, Wyatt; Barkley-Levenson, Amanda M; Metten, Pamela; Lattal, K Matthew

    2016-05-01

    The comorbidity of substance- and alcohol-use disorders (AUD) with other psychiatric conditions, especially those related to stress such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is well-established. Binge-like intoxication is thought to be a crucial stage in the development of the chronic relapsing nature of the addictions, and self-medication through binge-like drinking is commonly seen in PTSD patients. We have selectively bred two separate High Drinking in the Dark (HDID-1 and HDID-2) mouse lines to reach high blood ethanol concentrations (BECs) after a 4-h period of access to 20% ethanol starting shortly after the onset of circadian dark. As an initial step toward the eventual goal of employing binge-prone HDID mice to study PTSD-like behavior including alcohol binge drinking, we sought first to determine their ability to acquire conditioned fear. We asked whether these mice acquired, generalized, or extinguished conditioned freezing to a greater or lesser extent than unselected control HS/Npt mice. In two experiments, we trained groups of 16 adult male mice in a standard conditioned fear protocol. Mice were tested for context-elicited freezing, and then, in a novel context, for cue-induced freezing. After extinction tests, renewal of conditioned fear was tested in the original context. Mice of all three genotypes showed typical fear responding. Context paired with shock elicited freezing behavior in a control experiment, but cue unpaired with shock did not. These studies indicate that fear learning per se does not appear to be influenced by genes causing predisposition to binge drinking, suggesting distinct neural mechanisms. However, HDID mice are shown to be a suitable model for studying the role of conditioned fear specifically in binge-like drinking. PMID:27139234

  20. The Role of Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors in the Medial Prefrontal Cortex and Hippocampus in Trace Fear Conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Raybuck, J. D.; Gould, T. J.

    2010-01-01

    Acute nicotine enhances multiple types of learning including trace fear conditioning but the underlying neural substrates of these effects are not well understood. Trace fear conditioning critically involves the medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, which both express nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Therefore, nicotine could act in either or both areas to enhance trace fear conditioning. To identify the underlying neural areas and nAChR subtypes, we examined the effects of infusion of nicotine, or nicotinic antagonists dihydro-beta-erythroidine (DHβE: high-affinity nAChRs) or methyllycaconitine (MLA: low-affinity nAChRs) into the dorsal hippocampus, ventral hippocampus, and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) on trace and contextual fear conditioning. We found that the effects of nicotine on trace and contextual fear conditioning vary by brain region and nAChR subtype. The dorsal hippocampus was involved in the effects of nicotine on both trace and contextual fear conditioning but each task was sensitive to different doses of nicotine. Additionally, dorsal hippocampal infusion of the antagonist DHβE produced deficits in trace but not contextual fear conditioning. Nicotine infusion into the ventral hippocampus produced deficits in both trace and contextual fear conditioning. In the mPFC, nicotine enhanced trace but not contextual fear conditioning. Interestingly, infusion of the antagonists MLA or DHβE in the mPFC also enhanced trace fear conditioning. These findings suggest that nicotine acts on different substrates to enhance trace versus contextual fear conditioning, and that nicotine-induced desensitization of nAChRs in the mPFC may contribute to the effects of nicotine on trace fear conditioning. PMID:20727979

  1. Voluntary exercise during extinction of auditory fear conditioning reduces the relapse of fear associated with potentiated activity of striatal direct pathway neurons.

    PubMed

    Mika, Agnieszka; Bouchet, Courtney A; Bunker, Preston; Hellwinkel, Justin E; Spence, Katie G; Day, Heidi E W; Campeau, Serge; Fleshner, Monika; Greenwood, Benjamin N

    2015-11-01

    Relapse of previously extinguished fear presents a significant, pervasive obstacle to the successful long-term treatment of anxiety and trauma-related disorders. Thus, identification of a novel means to enhance fear extinction to stand the passage of time and generalize across contexts is of the utmost importance. Acute bouts of exercise can be used as inexpensive, noninvasive treatment strategies to reduce anxiety, and have been shown to enhance memory for extinction when performed in close temporal proximity to the extinction session. However, it is unclear whether acute exercise can be used to prevent relapse of fear, and the neural mechanisms underlying this potential effect are unknown. The current study therefore examined whether acute exercise during extinction of auditory fear can protect against the later relapse of fear. Male F344 rats lacking an extended history of wheel running were conditioned to fear a tone CS and subsequently extinguished within either a freely mobile running wheel, a locked wheel, or a control context lacking a wheel. Rats exposed to fear extinction within a freely mobile wheel ran during fear extinction, and demonstrated reduced fear as well as attenuated corticosterone levels during re-exposure to the extinguished CS during the relapse test in a novel context 1week later. Examination of cfos mRNA patterns elicited by re-exposure to the extinguished CS during the relapse test revealed that acute exercise during extinction decreased activation of brain circuits classically involved in driving fear expression and interestingly, increased activity within neurons of the direct striatal pathway involved in reward signaling. These data suggest that exercise during extinction reduces relapse through a mechanism involving the direct pathway of the striatum. It is suggested that a positive affective state could become associated with the CS during exercise during extinction, thus resulting in a relapse-resistant extinction memory. PMID

  2. Short-Term Adaptation of Conditioned Fear Responses Through Endocannabinoid Signaling in the Central Amygdala

    PubMed Central

    Kamprath, Kornelia; Romo-Parra, Hector; Häring, Martin; Gaburro, Stefano; Doengi, Michael; Lutz, Beat; Pape, Hans-Christian

    2011-01-01

    The cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) are both known to have crucial roles in the processing of fear and anxiety, whereby they appear to be especially involved in the control of fear states. However, in contrast to many other brain regions including the cortical subregions of the amygdala, the existence of CB1 in the CeA remains enigmatic. In this study we show that CB1 is expressed in the CeA of mice and that CB1 in the CeA mediates short-term synaptic plasticity, namely depolarization-induced suppression of excitation (DSE) and inhibition (DSI). Moreover, the CB1 antagonist AM251 increased both excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic responses in CeA neurons. Local application of AM251 in the CeA in vivo resulted in an acutely increased fear response in an auditory fear conditioning paradigm. Upon application of AM251 in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA) in an otherwise identical protocol, no such acute behavioral effects were detected, but CB1 blockade resulted in increased fear responses during tone exposures on the subsequent days. Moreover, we observed that the efficacy of DSE and DSI in the CeA was increased on the day following fear conditioning, indicating that a single tone-shock pairing resulted in changes in endocannabinoid signaling in the CeA. Taken together, our data show the existence of CB1 proteins in the CeA, and their critical role for ensuring short-term adaptation of responses to fearful events, thereby suggesting a potential therapeutic target to accompany habituation-based therapies of post-traumatic symptoms. PMID:20980994

  3. Social buffering enhances extinction of conditioned fear responses in male rats.

    PubMed

    Mikami, Kaori; Kiyokawa, Yasushi; Takeuchi, Yukari; Mori, Yuji

    2016-09-01

    In social species, the phenomenon in which the presence of conspecific animals mitigates stress responses is called social buffering. We previously reported that social buffering in male rats ameliorated behavioral fear responses, as well as hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activation, elicited by an auditory conditioned stimulus (CS). However, after social buffering, it is not clear whether rats exhibit fear responses when they are re-exposed to the same CS in the absence of another rat. In the present study, we addressed this issue using an experimental model of extinction. High stress levels during extinction training impaired extinction, suggesting that extinction is enhanced when stress levels during extinction training are low. Therefore, we hypothesized that rats that had received social buffering during extinction training would not show fear responses to a CS, even in the absence of another rat, because social buffering had enhanced the extinction of conditioned fear responses. To test this, we subjected male fear-conditioned rats to extinction training either alone or with a non-conditioned male rat. The subjects were then individually re-exposed to the CS in a recall test. When the subjects individually underwent extinction training, no responses were suppressed in the recall test. Conversely, when the subjects received social buffering during extinction training, freezing and Fos expression in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus and lateral amygdala were suppressed. Additionally, the effects of social buffering were absent when the recall test was conducted in a different context from the extinction training. The present results suggest that social buffering enhances extinction of conditioned fear responses. PMID:27158024

  4. The Role of Muscarinic and Nicotinic Cholinergic Neurotransmission in Aversive Conditioning: Comparing Pavlovian Fear Conditioning and Inhibitory Avoidance

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Tinsley, Matthew R.; Quinn, Jennifer J.; Fanselow, Michael S.

    2004-01-01

    Aversive conditioning is an ideal model for studying cholinergic effects on the processes of learning and memory for several reasons. First, deficits produced by selective lesions of the anatomical structures shown to be critical for Pavlovian fear conditioning and inhibitory avoidance (such as the amygdala and hippocampus) resemble those deficits…

  5. Toward an Account of Clinical Anxiety Predicated on Basic, Neurally-Mapped Mechanisms of Pavlovian Fear-Learning: The Case for Conditioned Overgeneralization

    PubMed Central

    Lissek, Shmuel

    2014-01-01

    The past two decades have brought dramatic progress in the neuroscience of anxiety due, in no small part, to animal findings specifying the neurobiology of Pavlovian fear-conditioning. Fortuitously, this neurally mapped process of fear learning is widely expressed in humans, and has been centrally implicated in the etiology of clinical anxiety. Fear-conditioning experiments in anxiety patients thus represent a unique opportunity to bring recent advances in animal neuroscience to bear on working, brain-based models of clinical anxiety. The current presentation details the neural basis and clinical relevance of fear conditioning, and highlights generalization of conditioned fear to stimuli resembling the conditioned danger cue as one of the more robust conditioning markers of clinical anxiety. Studies testing such generalization across a variety of anxiety disorders (panic, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder) with systematic methods developed in animals will next be presented. Finally, neural accounts of over-generalization deriving from animal and human data will be described with emphasis given to implications for the neurobiology and treatment of clinical anxiety. PMID:22447565

  6. Contextual Change After Fear Acquisition Affects Conditioned Responding and the Time Course of Extinction Learning—Implications for Renewal Research

    PubMed Central

    Sjouwerman, Rachel; Niehaus, Johanna; Lonsdorf, Tina B.

    2015-01-01

    Context plays a central role in retrieving (fear) memories. Accordingly, context manipulations are inherent to most return of fear (ROF) paradigms (in particular renewal), involving contextual changes after fear extinction. Context changes are, however, also often embedded during earlier stages of ROF experiments such as context changes between fear acquisition and extinction (e.g., in ABC and ABA renewal). Previous studies using these paradigms have however focused exclusively on the context switch after extinction (i.e., renewal). Thus, the possibility of a general effect of context switch on conditioned responding that may not be conditional to preceding extinction learning remains unstudied. Hence, the current study investigated the impact of a context switch between fear acquisition and extinction on immediate conditioned responding and on the time-course of extinction learning by using a multimodal approach. A group that underwent contextual change after fear conditioning (AB; n = 36) was compared with a group without a contextual change from acquisition to extinction (AA; n = 149), while measuring physiological (skin conductance and fear potentiated startle) measures and subjective fear ratings. Contextual change between fear acquisition and extinction had a pronounced effect on both immediate conditioned responding and on the time course of extinction learning in skin conductance responses and subjective fear ratings. This may have important implications for the mechanisms underlying and the interpretation of the renewal effect (i.e., contextual switch after extinction). Consequently, future studies should incorporate designs and statistical tests that disentangle general effects of contextual change from genuine ROF effects. PMID:26696855

  7. Enhanced extinction of contextual fear conditioning in ClockΔ19 mutant mice.

    PubMed

    Bernardi, Rick E; Spanagel, Rainer

    2014-08-01

    Clock genes have been implicated in several disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorders, and drug dependence. However, few studies to date have examined the role of clock genes in fear-related behaviors. The authors used mice with the ClockΔ19 mutation to assess the involvement of this gene in contextual fear conditioning. Male wild-type (WT) and ClockΔ19 mutant mice underwent a single session of contextual fear conditioning (12 min, 4 unsignaled shocks), followed by daily 12-min retention trials. There were no differences between mutant and WT mice in the acquisition of contextual fear, and WT and mutant mice demonstrated similar freezing during the first retention session. However, extinction of contextual fear was accelerated in mutant mice across the remaining retention sessions, as compared to WT mice, suggesting a role for Clock in extinction following aversive learning. Because the ClockΔ19 mutation has previously been demonstrated to result in an increase in dopamine signaling, the authors confirmed the role of dopamine in extinction learning using preretention session administration of a low dose of the dopamine transport reuptake inhibitor modafinil (0.75 mg/kg), which resulted in decreased freezing across retention sessions. These findings are consistent with an emerging portrayal of the importance of Clock genes in noncircadian functions, as well as the important role of dopamine in extinction learning. PMID:24865659

  8. Fear conditioning, persistence of disruptive behavior and psychopathic traits: an fMRI study

    PubMed Central

    Cohn, M D; Popma, A; van den Brink, W; Pape, L E; Kindt, M; van Domburgh, L; Doreleijers, T A H; Veltman, D J

    2013-01-01

    Children diagnosed with Disruptive Behavior Disorders (DBD), especially those with psychopathic traits, are at risk of developing persistent and severe antisocial behavior. Deficient fear conditioning may be a key mechanism underlying persistence, and has been associated with altered regional brain function in adult antisocial populations. In this study, we investigated the associations between the neural correlates of fear conditioning, persistence of childhood-onset DBD during adolescence and psychopathic traits. From a cohort of children arrested before the age of 12 years, participants who were diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder in previous waves (mean age of onset 6.5 years, s.d. 3.2) were reassessed at mean age 17.6 years (s.d. 1.4) and categorized as persistent (n=25) or desistent (n=25) DBD. Using the Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory and functional magnetic resonance imaging during a fear conditioning task, these subgroups were compared with 26 matched healthy controls from the same cohort. Both persistent and desistent DBD subgroups were found to show higher activation in fear processing-related brain areas during fear conditioning compared with healthy controls. In addition, regression analyses revealed that impulsive-irresponsible and grandiose-manipulative psychopathic traits were associated with higher activation, whereas callous-unemotional psychopathic traits were related to lower activation in fear-related areas. Finally, the association between neural activation and DBD subgroup membership was mediated by impulsive-irresponsible psychopathic traits. These results provide evidence for heterogeneity in the neurobiological mechanisms underlying psychopathic traits and antisocial behavior and, as such, underscore the need to develop personalized interventions. PMID:24169638

  9. Extinction of conditioned fear is better learned and recalled in the morning than in the evening.

    PubMed

    Pace-Schott, Edward F; Spencer, Rebecca M C; Vijayakumar, Shilpa; Ahmed, Nafis A K; Verga, Patrick W; Orr, Scott P; Pitman, Roger K; Milad, Mohammed R

    2013-11-01

    Sleep helps emotional memories consolidate and may promote generalization of fear extinction memory. We examined whether extinction learning and memory might differ in the morning and evening due, potentially, to circadian and/or sleep-homeostatic factors. Healthy men (N = 109) in 6 groups completed a 2-session protocol. In Session 1, fear conditioning was followed by extinction learning. Partial reinforcement with mild electric shock produced conditioned skin conductance responses (SCRs) to 2 differently colored lamps (CS+), but not a third color (CS-), within the computer image of a room (conditioning context). One CS+ (CS + E) but not the other (CS + U) was immediately extinguished by un-reinforced presentations in a different room (extinction context). Delay durations of 3 h (within AM or PM), 12 h (morning-to-evening or evening-to-morning) or 24 h (morning-to-morning or evening-to-evening) followed. In Session 2, extinction recall and contextual fear renewal were tested. We observed no significant effects of the delay interval on extinction memory but did observe an effect of time-of-day. Fear extinction was significantly better if learned in the morning (p = .002). Collapsing across CS + type, there was smaller morning differential SCR at both extinction recall (p = .003) and fear renewal (p = .005). Morning extinction recall showed better generalization from the CS + E to CS + U with the response to the CS + U significantly larger than to the CS + E only in the evening (p = .028). Thus, extinction is learned faster and its memory is better generalized in the morning. Cortisol and testosterone showed the expected greater salivary levels in the morning when higher testosterone/cortisol ratio also predicted better extinction learning. Circadian factors may promote morning extinction. Alternatively, evening homeostatic sleep pressure may impede extinction and favor recall of conditioned fear. PMID:23992769

  10. Extinction of Conditioned Fear is Better Learned and Recalled in the Morning than in the Evening

    PubMed Central

    Pace-Schott, Edward F.; Spencer, Rebecca M.C.; Vijayakumar, Shilpa; Ahmed, Nafis; Verga, Patrick W.; Orr, Scott P.; Pitman, Roger K.; Milad, Mohammed R.

    2013-01-01

    Sleep helps emotional memories consolidate and may promote generalization of fear extinction memory. We examined whether extinction learning and memory might differ in the morning and evening due, potentially, to circadian and/or sleep-homeostatic factors. Healthy men (N=109) in 6 groups completed a 2-session protocol. In Session 1, fear conditioning was followed by extinction learning. Partial reinforcement with mild electric shock produced conditioned skin conductance responses (SCR) to 2 differently colored lamps (CS+), but not a third color (CS−), within the computer image of a room (conditioning context). One CS+ (CS+E) but not the other (CS+U) was immediately extinguished by un-reinforced presentations in a different room (extinction context). Delay durations of 3 hr (within AM or PM), 12 hr (morning-to-evening or evening-to-morning) or 24 hr (morning-to-morning or evening-to-evening) followed. In Session 2, extinction recall and contextual fear renewal were tested. We observed no significant effects of the delay interval on extinction memory but did observe an effect of time-of-day. Fear extinction was significantly better if learned in the morning (p=.002). Collapsing across CS+ type, there was smaller morning differential SCR at both extinction recall (p=.003) and fear renewal (p=.005). Morning extinction recall showed better generalization from the CS+E to CS+U with the response to the CS+U significantly larger than to the CS+E only in the evening (p=.028). Thus, extinction is learned faster and its memory is better generalized in the morning. Cortisol and testosterone showed the expected greater salivary levels in the morning when higher testosterone/cortisol ratio also predicting better extinction learning. Circadian factors may promote morning extinction. Alternatively, evening homeostatic sleep pressure may impede extinction and favor recall of conditioned fear. PMID:23992769

  11. Conditioned fear and extinction learning performance and its association with psychiatric symptoms in active duty Marines

    PubMed Central

    Acheson, D.T.; Geyer, M.A.; Baker, D.G.; Nievergelt, C.M.; Yurgil, K.; Risbrough, V.B.

    2014-01-01

    Summary Background Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a major public health concern, especially given the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nevertheless, despite a sharp increase in the incidence of psychiatric disorders in returning veterans, empirically based prevention strategies are still lacking. To develop effective prevention and treatment strategies, it is necessary to understand the underlying biological mechanisms contributing to PTSD and other trauma related symptoms. Methods The “Marine Resiliency Study II” (MRS-II; October 2011–October 2013) Neurocognition project is an investigation of neurocognitive performance in Marines about to be deployed to Afghanistan. As part of this investigation, 1195 Marines and Navy corpsmen underwent a fear conditioning and extinction paradigm and psychiatric symptom assessment prior to deployment. The current study assesses (1) the effectiveness of the fear potentiated startle paradigm in producing fear learning and extinction and (2) the association of performance in the paradigm with baseline psychiatric symptom classes (healthy: n = 923, PTSD symptoms: n = 42, anxiety symptoms: n = 37, and depression symptoms: n = 12). Results Results suggest that the task was effective in producing differential fear learning and fear extinction in this cohort. Further, distinct patterns emerged differentiating the PTSD and anxiety symptom classes from both healthy and depression classes. During fear acquisition, the PTSD symptom group was the only group to show deficient discrimination between the conditioned stimulus (CS+) and safety cue (CS−), exhibiting larger startle responses during the safety cue compared to the healthy group. During extinction learning, the PTSD symptom group showed significantly less reduction in their CS+ responding over time compared to the healthy group, as well as reduced extinction of self-reported anxiety to the CS+ by the end of the extinction session. Conversely, the anxiety symptom

  12. Differential Transcriptional Response to Nonassociative and Associative Components of Classical Fear Conditioning in the Amygdala and Hippocampus

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Isiegas, Carolina; Stein, Joel; Hellman, Kevin; Hannenhalli, Sridhar; Abel, Ted; Keeley, Michael B.; Wood, Marcelo A.

    2006-01-01

    Classical fear conditioning requires the recognition of conditioned stimuli (CS) and the association of the CS with an aversive stimulus. We used Affymetrix oligonucleotide microarrays to characterize changes in gene expression compared to naive mice in both the amygdala and the hippocampus 30 min after classical fear conditioning and 30 min after…

  13. Pair exposure with conspecific during fear conditioning induces the link between freezing and passive avoidance behaviors in rats.

    PubMed

    Lee, Hyunchan; Noh, Jihyun

    2016-07-01

    Social factor plays an important role in dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder related to excessive physiological fear response and insufficient fear memory extinction of the brain. However, although social circumstances occurred not only during contextual retrieval but also during fear conditioning, most previous studies focused on the advantageous aspects of social buffering in fear retrieval period. To demonstrate the association between fear responses and fear memory from social stimuli during fear conditioning, pair exposed rats with conspecific as social buffering were subjected to a fear conditioning of passive avoidance test to evaluate memory function and freezing behavior. Whereas single exposed rats showed the significant increase of freezing behaviors and passive avoidance behaviors compared to control rats, pair exposed rats showed significant alleviation of the freezing behaviors and passive avoidance behaviors compared to single exposed rats. Furthermore, we determined a significant correlation between freezing and passive avoidance behavioral alteration in pair exposed rats. Taken together, we suggest that pair exposure with conspecific during fear conditioning helps to cope with both freezing response and fear memory systems and their reciprocal interaction has a crucial potential as a resource for the relief of unreasonable stress responses in posttraumatic stress disorder. PMID:26827818

  14. Elevated Fear Conditioning to Socially Relevant Unconditioned Stimuli in Social Anxiety Disorder

    PubMed Central

    Lissek, Shmuel; Levenson, Jessica; Biggs, Arter L.; Johnson, Linda L.; Ameli, Rezvan; Pine, Daniel S.; Grillon, Christian

    2008-01-01

    Objective Though conditioned fear has long been acknowledged as an important etiologic mechanism in social anxiety disorder, past psychophysiological experiments have found no differences in general conditionability among social anxiety patients using generally aversive but socially nonspecific unconditioned stimuli (e.g., unpleasant odors and painful pressure). The authors applied a novel fear conditioning paradigm consisting of socially relevant unconditioned stimuli of critical facial expressions and verbal feedback. This study represents the first effort to assess the conditioning correlates of social anxiety disorder within an ecologically enhanced paradigm. Method Subjects with social anxiety disorder and age- and gender-matched healthy comparison subjects underwent differential classical conditioning. Conditioned stimuli included images of three neutral facial expressions, each of which was paired with one of three audiovisual unconditioned stimuli: negative insults with critical faces (USneg), positive compliments with happy faces (USpos), or neutral comments with neutral faces (USneu). The conditioned response was measured as the fear-potentiation of the startle-blink reflex elicited during presentation of the conditioned stimuli. Results Only social anxiety subjects demonstrated fear conditioning in response to facial expressions, as the startle-blink reflex was potentiated by the CSneg versus both CSneu and CSpos among those with the disorder, while healthy comparison subjects displayed no evidence of conditioned startle-potentiation. Such group differences in conditioning were independent of levels of anxiety to the unconditioned stimulus, implicating associative processes rather than increased unconditioned stimulus reactivity as the active mechanism underlying enhanced conditioned startle-potentiation among social anxiety subjects. Conclusions Results support a conditioning contribution to social anxiety disorder and underscore the importance of

  15. Potentiation rather than distraction in a trace fear conditioning procedure.

    PubMed

    Pezze, M A; Marshall, H J; Cassaday, H J

    2016-07-01

    Trace conditioning procedures are defined by the introduction of a trace interval between conditioned stimulus (CS, e.g. noise or light) offset and unconditioned stimulus (US, e.g. footshock). The introduction of an additional stimulus as a distractor has been suggested to increase the attentional demands of the task and to extend the usefulness of the behavioural model. In Experiment 1, the CS was noise and the distractor was provided by an intermittent light. In Experiment 2, the CS was light and the distractor was provided by an intermittent noise. In both experiments, the introduction of a 10s trace interval weakened associative learning compared with that seen in a 0s delay conditioned group. However, there was no consistent evidence of distraction. On the contrary, in Experiment 1, associative learning was stronger (in both trace and delay conditioned groups) for rats conditioned also in the presence of the intermittent light. In Experiment 2, there was no such effect when the roles of the stimuli were reversed. The results of Experiment 2 did however confirm the particular salience of the noise stimulus. The finding of increased associative learning dependent on salience is consistent with arousal-mediated effects on associative learning. PMID:27060226

  16. DHPG Activation of Group 1 mGluRs in BLA Enhances Fear Conditioning

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Rudy, Jerry W.; Matus-Amat, Patricia

    2009-01-01

    Group 1 metabotropic glutamate receptors are known to play an important role in both synaptic plasticity and memory. We show that activating these receptors prior to fear conditioning by infusing the group 1 mGluR agonist, (R.S.)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine (DHPG), into the basolateral region of the amygdala (BLA) of adult Sprague-Dawley rats…

  17. Effects of Post-Training Hippocampal Injections of Midazolam on Fear Conditioning

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Gafford, Georgette M.; Parsons, Ryan G.; Helmstetter, Fred J.

    2005-01-01

    Benzodiazepines have been useful tools for investigating mechanisms underlying learning and memory. The present set of experiments investigates the role of hippocampal GABA[subscript A]/benzodiazepine receptors in memory consolidation using Pavlovian fear conditioning. Rats were prepared with cannulae aimed at the dorsal hippocampus and trained…

  18. A Bout of Voluntary Running Enhances Context Conditioned Fear, Its Extinction, and Its Reconsolidation

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Siette, Joyce; Reichelt, Amy C.; Westbrook, R. Frederick

    2014-01-01

    Three experiments used rats to examine the effect of a single bout of voluntary activity (wheel running) on the acquisition, extinction, and reconsolidation of context conditioned fear. In Experiment 1, rats provided with access to a wheel for 3 h immediately before or after a shocked exposure to a context froze more when tested in that context…

  19. The Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor Valproic Acid Enhances Acquisition, Extinction, and Reconsolidation of Conditioned Fear

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Bredy, Timothy W.; Barad, Mark

    2008-01-01

    Histone modifications contribute to the epigenetic regulation of gene expression, a process now recognized to be important for the consolidation of long-term memory. Valproic acid (VPA), used for many years as an anticonvulsant and a mood stabilizer, has effects on learning and memory and enhances the extinction of conditioned fear through its…

  20. Involvement of the Lateral Septal Area in the Expression of Fear Conditioning to Context

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Reis, Daniel G.; Scopinho, America A.; Guimaraes, Francisco S.; Correa, Fernando M. A.; Resstel, Leonardo B. M.

    2010-01-01

    Considering the evidence that the lateral septal area (LSA) modulates defensive responses, the aim of the present study is to verify if this structure is also involved in contextual fear conditioning responses. Neurotransmission in the LSA was reversibly inhibited by bilateral microinjections of cobalt chloride (CoCl[subscript 2], 1 mM) 10 min…

  1. Suppression of conditioned fear by administration of CCKB receptor antagonist PD135158.

    PubMed

    Tsutsumi, T; Akiyoshi, J; Isogawa, K; Kohno, Y; Hikichi, T; Nagayama, H

    1999-12-01

    In order to examine the involvement of CCK in the formation of anxiety, we have investigated whether CCKB receptor antagonist PD135158 suppressed conditioned fear stress. Rats were individually subjected to 30 min of inescapable electric footshock in a chamber with a grid floor. First, the rats were individually subjected to 30 min of footshock. Twenty-four h after the footshock, the rats were again placed in the chamber and observed for 5 min without shocks. PD135158 was administered 30 min before placing the rats in the chamber again. Secondly, PD135158 was administered 30 min before footshock. Thirdly, PD135158 was administered 5 min after footshock. Administration of PD135158 30 min before conditioned fear stress significantly reduced freezing behavior. Administration of PD135158 30 min before footshock also significantly reduced freezing behavior. But, administration of PD135158 5 min after footshock did not significantly reduce freezing behavior. PD135158 blocked not only the acquisition but also the expression of conditioned fear. These results suggest that the CCKB receptor might play an important role in conditioned fear stress and that it might be related to anxiety. PMID:10657528

  2. Neonatal Odor-Shock Conditioning Alters the Neural Network Involved in Odor Fear Learning at Adulthood

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Sevelinges, Yannick; Sullivan, Regina M.; Messaoudi, Belkacem; Mouly, Anne-Marie

    2008-01-01

    Adult learning and memory functions are strongly dependent on neonatal experiences. We recently showed that neonatal odor-shock learning attenuates later life odor fear conditioning and amygdala activity. In the present work we investigated whether changes observed in adults can also be observed in other structures normally involved, namely…

  3. Neural Correlates of Appetitive-Aversive Interactions in Pavlovian Fear Conditioning

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Nasser, Helen M.; McNally, Gavan P.

    2013-01-01

    We used Pavlovian counterconditioning in rats to identify the neural mechanisms for appetitive-aversive motivational interactions. In Stage I, rats were trained on conditioned stimulus (CS)-food (unconditioned stimulus [US]) pairings. In Stage II, this appetitive CS was transformed into a fear CS via pairings with footshock. The development of…

  4. A Model of Amygdala-Hippocampal-Prefrontal Interaction in Fear Conditioning and Extinction in Animals

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Moustafa, Ahmed A.; Gilbertson, Mark W.; Orr, Scott P.; Herzallah, Mohammad M.; Servatius, Richard J.; Myers, Catherine E.

    2013-01-01

    Empirical research has shown that the amygdala, hippocampus, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) are involved in fear conditioning. However, the functional contribution of each brain area and the nature of their interactions are not clearly understood. Here, we extend existing neural network models of the functional roles of the hippocampus…

  5. Blockade of Dopamine Activity in the Nucleus Accumbens Impairs Learning Extinction of Conditioned Fear

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Holtzman-Assif, Orit; Laurent, Vincent; Westbrook, R. Frederick

    2010-01-01

    Three experiments used rats to investigate the role of dopamine activity in learning to inhibit conditioned fear responses (freezing) in extinction. In Experiment 1, rats systemically injected with the D2 dopamine antagonist, haloperidol, froze more across multiple extinction sessions and on a drug-free retention test than control rats. In…

  6. Selectivity of conditioned fear of touch is modulated by somatosensory precision.

    PubMed

    Harvie, Daniel S; Meulders, Ann; Reid, Emily; Camfferman, Danny; Brinkworth, Russell S A; Moseley, G Lorimer

    2016-06-01

    Learning to initiate defenses in response to specific signals of danger is adaptive. Some chronic pain conditions, however, are characterized by widespread anxiety, avoidance, and pain consistent with a loss of defensive response specificity. Response specificity depends on ability to discriminate between safe and threatening stimuli; therefore, specificity might depend on sensory precision. This would help explain the high prevalence of chronic pain in body areas of low tactile acuity, such as the lower back, and clarify why improving sensory precision may reduce chronic pain. We compared the acquisition and generalization of fear of pain-associated vibrotactile stimuli delivered to either the hand (high tactile acuity) or the back (low tactile acuity). During acquisition, tactile stimulation at one location (CS+) predicted the noxious electrocutaneous stimulation (US), while tactile stimulation at another location (CS-) did not. Responses to three stimuli with decreasing spatial proximity to the CS+ (generalizing stimuli; GS1-3) were tested. Differential learning and generalization were compared between groups. The main outcome of fear-potentiated startle responses showed differential learning only in the hand group. Self-reported fear and expectancy confirmed differential learning and limited generalization in the hand group, and suggested undifferentiated fear and expectancy in the back group. Differences in generalization could not be inferred from the startle data. Specificity of fear responses appears to be affected by somatosensory precision. This has implications for our understanding of the role of sensory imprecision in the development of chronic pain. PMID:26950514

  7. Cholinergic Signaling Controls Conditioned Fear Behaviors and Enhances Plasticity of Cortical-Amygdala Circuits.

    PubMed

    Jiang, Li; Kundu, Srikanya; Lederman, James D; López-Hernández, Gretchen Y; Ballinger, Elizabeth C; Wang, Shaohua; Talmage, David A; Role, Lorna W

    2016-06-01

    We examined the contribution of endogenous cholinergic signaling to the acquisition and extinction of fear- related memory by optogenetic regulation of cholinergic input to the basal lateral amygdala (BLA). Stimulation of cholinergic terminal fields within the BLA in awake-behaving mice during training in a cued fear-conditioning paradigm slowed the extinction of learned fear as assayed by multi-day retention of extinction learning. Inhibition of cholinergic activity during training reduced the acquisition of learned fear behaviors. Circuit mechanisms underlying the behavioral effects of cholinergic signaling in the BLA were assessed by in vivo and ex vivo electrophysiological recording. Photostimulation of endogenous cholinergic input (1) enhances firing of putative BLA principal neurons through activation of acetylcholine receptors (AChRs), (2) enhances glutamatergic synaptic transmission in the BLA, and (3) induces LTP of cortical-amygdala circuits. These studies support an essential role of cholinergic modulation of BLA circuits in the inscription and retention of fear memories. PMID:27161525

  8. Deep brain stimulation of the ventral striatum enhances extinction of conditioned fear.

    PubMed

    Rodriguez-Romaguera, Jose; Do Monte, Fabricio H M; Quirk, Gregory J

    2012-05-29

    Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the ventral capsule/ventral striatum (VC/VS) reduces symptoms of intractable obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but the mechanism of action is unknown. OCD is characterized by avoidance behaviors that fail to extinguish, and DBS could act, in part, by facilitating extinction of fear. We investigated this possibility by using auditory fear conditioning in rats, for which the circuits of fear extinction are well characterized. We found that DBS of the VS (the VC/VS homolog in rats) during extinction training reduced fear expression and strengthened extinction memory. Facilitation of extinction was observed for a specific zone of dorsomedial VS, just above the anterior commissure; stimulation of more ventrolateral sites in VS impaired extinction. DBS effects could not be obtained with pharmacological inactivation of either dorsomedial VS or ventrolateral VS, suggesting an extrastriatal mechanism. Accordingly, DBS of dorsomedial VS (but not ventrolateral VS) increased expression of a plasticity marker in the prelimbic and infralimbic prefrontal cortices, the orbitofrontal cortex, the amygdala central nucleus (lateral division), and intercalated cells, areas known to learn and express extinction. Facilitation of fear extinction suggests that, in accord with clinical observations, DBS could augment the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapies for OCD. PMID:22586125

  9. Impaired conditioned fear response and startle reactivity in epinephrine-deficient mice.

    PubMed

    Toth, Mate; Ziegler, Michael; Sun, Ping; Gresack, Jodi; Risbrough, Victoria

    2013-02-01

    Norepinephrine and epinephrine signaling is thought to facilitate cognitive processes related to emotional events and heightened arousal; however, the specific role of epinephrine in these processes is less known. To investigate the selective impact of epinephrine on arousal and fear-related memory retrieval, mice unable to synthesize epinephrine (phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase knockout, PNMT-KO) were tested for contextual and cued-fear conditioning. To assess the role of epinephrine in other cognitive and arousal-based behaviors these mice were also tested for acoustic startle, prepulse inhibition, novel object recognition, and open-field activity. Our results show that compared with wild-type mice, PNMT-KO mice showed reduced contextual fear but normal cued fear. Mice exhibited normal memory performance in the short-term version of the novel object recognition task, suggesting that PNMT mice exhibit more selective memory effects on highly emotional and/or long-term memories. Similarly, open-field activity was unaffected by epinephrine deficiency, suggesting that differences in freezing are not related to changes in overall anxiety or exploratory drive. Startle reactivity to acoustic pulses was reduced in PNMT-KO mice, whereas prepulse inhibition was increased. These findings provide further evidence for a selective role of epinephrine in contextual-fear learning and support its potential role in acoustic startle. PMID:23268986

  10. Inhibition of prefrontal protein synthesis following recall does not disrupt memory for trace fear conditioning

    PubMed Central

    Blum, Sonja; Runyan, Jason D; Dash, Pramod K

    2006-01-01

    Background The extent of similarity between consolidation and reconsolidation is not yet fully understood. One of the differences noted is that not every brain region involved in consolidation exhibits reconsolidation. In trace fear conditioning, the hippocampus and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) are required for consolidation of long-term memory. We have previously demonstrated that trace fear memory is susceptible to infusion of the protein synthesis inhibitor anisomycin into the hippocampus following recall. In the present study, we examine whether protein synthesis inhibition in the mPFC following recall similarly results in the observation of reconsolidation of trace fear memory. Results Targeted intra-mPFC infusions of anisomycin or vehicle were performed immediately following recall of trace fear memory at 24 hours, or at 30 days, following training in a one-day or a two-day protocol. The present study demonstrates three key findings: 1) trace fear memory does not undergo protein synthesis dependent reconsolidation in the PFC, regardless of the intensity of the training, and 2) regardless of whether the memory is recent or remote, and 3) intra-mPFC inhibition of protein synthesis immediately following training impaired remote (30 days) memory. Conclusion These results suggest that not all structures that participate in memory storage are involved in reconsolidation. Alternatively, certain types of memory-related information may reconsolidate, while other components of memory may not. PMID:17026758