Fear conditioning in panic disorder: Enhanced resistance to extinction.J Abnorm Psychol. 2007 Aug; 116(3):612-7.JA
Enhanced conditionability has been proposed as a crucial factor in the etiology and maintenance of panic disorder (PD). To test this assumption, the authors of the current study examined the acquisition and extinction of conditioned responses to aversive stimuli in PD. Thirty-nine PD patients and 33 healthy control participants took part in a differential aversive conditioning experiment. A highly annoying but not painful electrical stimulus served as the unconditioned stimulus (US), and two neutral pictures were used as either the paired conditioned stimulus (CS+) or the unpaired conditioned stimulus (CS-). Results indicate that PD patients do not show larger conditioned responses during acquisition than control participants. However, in contrast to control participants, PD patients exhibited larger skin conductance responses to CS+ stimuli during extinction and maintained a more negative evaluation of them, as indicated by valence ratings obtained several times throughout the experiment. This suggests that PD patients show enhanced conditionability with respect to extinction.