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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 experimental groups(More)
Pavlovian conditioning research has shown that unconditioned responses (UCR) to aversive unconditioned stimuli (UCS) are reduced when a UCS is predictable. This effect is known as UCR diminution. In the present study, we examined UCR diminution in the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signal by varying the rate at which a neutral conditioned(More)
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(More)
During Pavlovian fear conditioning a conditioned stimulus (CS) is repeatedly paired with an aversive unconditioned stimulus (UCS). In many studies the CS and UCS are paired on every trial, whereas in others the CS and UCS are paired intermittently. To better understand the influence of the CS-UCS pairing rate on brain activity, the experimenters presented(More)
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(More)
To examine the effect of discriminative fear conditioning on the shape of the generalization gradient, two groups of participants first learned to discriminate between two color stimuli, one paired with an electrical shock (conditional stimulus, CS+) and the other explicitly unpaired (CS-). The CS+ was held constant as an intermediate (ambiguous) value(More)
In urban areas, people often have to stand or move in close proximity to others. The egocentric distance to stimuli is a powerful determinant of defensive behavior in animals. Yet, little is known about how spatial proximity to others alters defensive responses in humans. We hypothesized that the valence of social cues scales with egocentric distance, such(More)
Fear can be an adaptive emotion that helps defend against potential danger. Classical conditioning models elegantly describe how animals learn which stimuli in the environment signal danger, but understanding how this learning is generalized to other stimuli that resemble aspects of a learned threat remains a challenge. Critically, the overgeneralization of(More)
Experimental studies of conditioned learning reveal activity changes in the amygdala and unimodal sensory cortex underlying fear acquisition to simple stimuli. However, real-world fears typically involve complex stimuli represented at the category level. A consequence of category-level representations of threat is that aversive experiences with particular(More)
BACKGROUND Experimental extinction serves as a model for psychiatric treatments based on associative learning. However, the effects of extinction are often transient, as evidenced by postextinction return of defensive behaviors. From a therapeutic perspective, an inherent problem with extinction may be that mere omission of threat is not sufficient to(More)