Erasing fear memories with extinction training.

G. J. Quirk, D. Pare, R. Richardson, C. Herry, M. H. Monfils, D. Schiller, A. Vicentic
Journal of Neuroscience. 2010-11-10; 30(45): 14993-14997
DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.4268-10.2010

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1. J Neurosci. 2010 Nov 10;30(45):14993-7. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4268-10.2010.

Erasing fear memories with extinction training.

Quirk GJ(1), Paré D, Richardson R, Herry C, Monfils MH, Schiller D, Vicentic A.

Author information:
(1)Department of Psychiatry, University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, San
Juan 00936-5067, Puerto Rico.

Decades of behavioral studies have confirmed that extinction does not erase
classically conditioned fear memories. For this reason, research efforts have
focused on the mechanisms underlying the development of extinction-induced
inhibition within fear circuits. However, recent studies in rodents have
uncovered mechanisms that stabilize and destabilize fear memories, opening the
possibility that extinction might be used to erase fear memories. This symposium
focuses on several of these new developments, which involve the timing of
extinction training. Extinction-induced erasure of fear occurs in very young
rats, but is lost with the development of perineuronal nets in the amygdala that
render fear memories impervious to extinction. Moreover, extinction administered
during the reconsolidation phase, when fear memory is destabilized, updates the
fear association as safe, thereby preventing the return of fear, in both rats and
humans. The use of modified extinction protocols to eliminate fear memories
complements existing pharmacological strategies for strengthening extinction.

DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4268-10.2010
PMCID: PMC3380534
PMID: 21068303 [Indexed for MEDLINE]


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