Human fear extinction and return of fear using reconsolidation update mechanisms: the contribution of on-line expectancy ratings.Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2014 Sep; 113:165-73.NL
Disruption of the reconsolidation of conditioned fear memories has been suggested as a non-pharmacological means of preventing the return of learned fear in human populations. A reconsolidation update paradigm was developed in which a reconsolidation window is opened by a single isolated retrieval trial of a previously reinforced CS+ which is then followed by Extinction Training within that window. However, follow-up studies in humans using multi-methods fear conditioning indices (e.g., fear-potentiated startle, skin conductance, US-expectancy) have failed to replicate the retrieval+extinction effects. In the present study, we further investigated the retrieval+extinction reconsolidation update paradigm by directly comparing the acquisition, extinction, and return of fear-potentiated startle in the absence or presence of US-expectancy measures (using a trial-by-trial response keypad) with and without retrieval of a previously acquired CS-US association. Participants were fear conditioned to two visual cue CS+'s, one of which was presented as a single, isolated retrieval trial before Extinction Training and one that was extinguished as usual. The results show that the inclusion of US-expectancy measures strengthens the CS-US association to provide enhanced fear conditioning and maintenance of fear memories over the experimental sessions. In addition, in the groups that used on-line US-expectancy measures, the retrieval+extinction procedure reduced reinstatement of fear-potentiated startle to both previously reinforced CS+'s, as compared to the extinction as usual group.