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Disruption of human fear reconsolidation using imaginal and in vivo extinction
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2017 (English)In: Behavioural Brain Research, ISSN 0166-4328, E-ISSN 1872-7549, Vol. 319, p. 9-15Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Abstract Memories are not set forever, but can be altered following reactivation, which renders memories malleable, before they are again stabilized through reconsolidation. Fear memories can be attenuated by using extinction during the malleable period. The present study adopts a novel form of extinction, using verbal instructions, in order to examine whether fear memory reconsolidation can be affected by an imaginal exposure. The extinction using verbal instructions, called imaginal extinction, consists of a recorded voice encouraging participants to imagine the scene in which fear was acquired, and to envision the stimuli before their inner eye. The voice signals stimuli appearance, and identical to standard (in vivo) extinction, participants discover that the conditioned stimulus no longer is followed by unconditioned stimulus (UCS). In this way, imaginal extinction translates clinically used imaginal exposure into the standard experimental fear conditioning paradigm. Fear was acquired by pairing pictorial stimuli with an electric shock UCS. Then, both standard and imaginal extinction were given following fear memory reactivation, either after 10 min, within the reconsolidation interval, or after 6 h, outside of the reconsolidation interval. In vivo and imaginal extinction produced comparable reductions in conditioned responses during extinction and importantly, both disrupted reconsolidation of conditioned fear and abolished stimulus discrimination between reinforced and non-reinforced cues. Thus, disrupted reconsolidation of fear conditioning can be achieved without in vivo stimulus presentation, through purely cognitive means, suggesting possible therapeutic applications.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 319, p. 9-15
Keywords [en]
Memory reconsolidation, Fear conditioning, Fear extinction, Imaginal exposure, Reinstatement
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-310376DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.11.014ISI: 000392558300002PubMedID: 27840245OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-310376DiVA, id: diva2:1056385
Funder
Swedish Research CouncilAvailable from: 2016-12-14 Created: 2016-12-14 Last updated: 2017-11-29Bibliographically approved

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Ågren, ThomasBjörkstrand, JohannesFredriksson, Mats

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