An Analysis of Retrieval-Enhanced Extinction Paradigms UsingFear-Potentiated Startle and Cognitive Awareness Measures Open Access

Warren, Victor Taylor (2013)

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Current research on fear conditioning and extinction has explored the role of fear memory retrieval and reconsolidation. Unlike traditional fear extinction studies, which display numerous fear recovery effects, recent experiments have demonstrated that the use of retrieval+extinction paradigms results in persistent dampening of the original conditioned fear. However, these studies have relied on skin conductance measures, which are widely known as a measure of general arousal as opposed to fear response. Here we attempt to translate the results of retrieval+extinction paradigms to our well established fear-potentiated startle protocol, which quantifies a reflexive response that is directly integrated into the fear learning circuitry of the mammalian brain. In addition, we attempt to analyze the cognitive effect of US-expectancy predictions on startle response via the use of a response pad. We provide evidence that our retrieval+extinction paradigm replicates the decreased fear recovery shown in other studies; however, recruitment of higher cortical brain regions via the response pad leads to enhanced fear learning and decreases the retrieval effects. These findings provide important information for future research endeavors, particularly those targeting treatment of anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Table of Contents

Introduction - 1

Methods - 13

Results - 18

Discussion - 24

References - 31


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