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Accueil veterinaires comportementalistes Publications internationales veterinaires comportementalistes Concurrent excitors limit the extinction of conditioned fear in humans

Concurrent excitors limit the extinction of conditioned fear in humans

Bram Vervliet, Debora Vansteenwegen, Dirk Hermans and Paul Eelen

Revue : Behaviour Research and Therapy

In a human fear conditioning experiment, with on-line expectancy ratings and electrodermal responding as indices of fear, two neutral stimuli (pictures of geometric shapes) were first established as reliable predictors of an electric shock. In the subsequent extinction phase, the two stimuli were repeatedly presented in compound, without the shock. The final test phase consisted of individual stimulus presentations again, which resulted in a strong return of the conditioned responses. This effect was not observed in non-conditioned control stimuli. Hence, behavioral effects of extinction seem highly specific to the stimulus constellation that has gone through the extinction procedure. We argue that pharmacological, behavioral and/or cognitive manipulations that could prevent configural processing of stimulus constellations have direct clinical potential.

Keywords: Electrodermal responding; Generalization of extinction; Return of fear

Further reading
J.M. Pearce, Similarity and discrimination: A selective review and a connectionist model, Psychological Review 101 (1994), pp. 587?607. Abstract | Abstract + References | PDF (4556 K)

D.A. Williams, K.E. Sagness and J.E. McPhee, Configural and elemental strategies in predictive learning, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 20 (1994), pp. 694?709. Abstract | Abstract + References | PDF (11494 K)

This research was supported by a University of Leuven grant GOA/2001/01.
Corresponding author. Tel.: +32 16 32 60 35; fax: +32 16 32 60 99.

publications scientifiques


Behaviour Research and Therapy, Volume 45, Issue 2 , February 2007, Pages 375-383



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