Beyond extinction: erasing human fear responses and preventing the return of fear

  title={Beyond extinction: erasing human fear responses and preventing the return of fear},
  author={Merel Kindt and Marieke Soeter and Bram Vervliet},
  journal={Nature Neuroscience},
Animal studies have shown that fear memories can change when recalled, a process referred to as reconsolidation. We found that oral administration of the β-adrenergic receptor antagonist propranolol before memory reactivation in humans erased the behavioral expression of the fear memory 24 h later and prevented the return of fear. Disrupting the reconsolidation of fear memory opens up new avenues for providing a long-term cure for patients with emotional disorders. 

Erasing Fear : Effect of Disrupting Fear Memory Reconsolidation on Central and Peripheral Nervous System Activity

Fear memories, here defined as learned associations between a stimulus and a physiological fear reaction, are formed through fear conditioning, and in animals, fear memories, present in the lateral amygdaline region, are present in animals.

Behavioural memory reconsolidation of food and fear memories

To confirm that reactivation followed by extinction reflects a behavioural analog of memory reconsolidation, it is shown that prevention of contextual fear memory reactivation by the LVGCC blocker nimodipine interferes with the amnestic outcome.

Animal models of fear relapse.

Several phenomena associated with the return of fear after extinction are discussed, including renewal, spontaneous recovery, reacquisition, and reinstatement.

Erasing Fear Memories with Extinction Training

The use of modified extinction protocols to eliminate fear memories complements existing pharmacological strategies for strengthening extinction and improves the chances of avoiding the return of fear in both rats and humans.

The Amygdala, Fear and Reconsolidation : Neural and Behavioral Effects of Retrieval-Extinction in Fear Conditioning and Spider Phobia

The amygdala is crucially involved in the acquisition and retention of fear memories, and experimental research on fear conditioning has shown that memory retrieval shortly followed by pharmacological reprograming is important for fear conditioning.

Preventing the return of fear in humans using reconsolidation update mechanisms

The adaptive role of reconsolidation as a window of opportunity to rewrite emotional memories is demonstrated, and a non-invasive technique that can be used safely in humans to prevent the return of fear is suggested.

Extinction after retrieval: effects on the associative and nonassociative components of remote contextual fear memory.

It is shown that the reconsolidation-extinction procedure fails to prevent the spontaneous recovery of a remote contextual fear memory in a mouse model of PTSD, as well as the long-lasting behavioral abnormalities induced by traumatic experience on anxiety and in both social and cognitive domains.

Are fear memories erasable?–reconsolidation of learned fear with fear-relevant and fear-irrelevant stimuli

It is found that a single reminder exposure prior to extinction training did not prevent the return of extinguished fear responding using either fear-relevant or fear-irrelevant CSs, pointing to the need to further study the specific parameters that enable disruption of reconsolidation.

Seeking a Spotless Mind: Extinction, Deconsolidation, and Erasure of Fear Memory

Fear Conditioning: Overview




Conditioned fear extinction and reinstatement in a human fear-potentiated startle paradigm.

This is the first demonstration of fear extinction and reinstatement in humans using startle measures and produced robust fear-potentiated startle, significant CS+/CS- discrimination, within-session extinction, and significant reinstatement.

Synapse-specific reconsolidation of distinct fear memories in the lateral amygdala

It is shown in rats that fear memory retrieval produces a synaptic potentiation in the lateral amygdala that is selective to the reactivated memory, and that disruption of reconsolidation is correlated with a reduction of synaptic potentiated in theateral amygdala.

Extinction is not a sufficient condition to prevent fear memories from undergoing reconsolidation in the basolateral amygdala

It is found that inhibition of protein synthesis in the basolateral amygdala (BLA) impaired reconsolidation for both the briefly reactivated and extinguished fear memories suggesting that extinction is not a sufficient condition to prevent induction of reconsolidations in the amygdala.

Startle reactivity and anxiety disorders: aversive conditioning, context, and neurobiology

  • C. Grillon
  • Psychology, Biology
    Biological Psychiatry
  • 2002

Fear memories require protein synthesis in the amygdala for reconsolidation after retrieval

It is shown that consolidated fear memories, when reactivated during retrieval, return to a labile state in which infusion of anisomycin shortly after memory reactivation produces amnesia on later tests, regardless of whether reactivation was performed 1 or 14 days after conditioning.

Reinstatement of extinguished conditioned responses and negative stimulus valence as a pathway to return of fear in humans.

Clear evidence is established for reinstatement of conditioned responses in humans by using a differential Pavlovian conditioning procedure and for the role of negative stimulus valence in the return of conditioned responding after extinction.

Molecular mechanisms of memory reconsolidation

Understanding the molecular mechanisms of reconsolidation could provide crucial insights into the dynamic aspects of normal mnemonic function and psychiatric disorders that are characterized by exceptionally strong and salient emotional memories.