Can contingency rehearsal during the interval between a retrieval cue and extinction training change the effects of post-retrieval extinction?Psychophysiology. 2022 03; 59(3):e13971.P
Return of fear may be prevented by post-retrieval extinction (PRE), a procedure consisting of presenting a stimulus that was present during conditioning (retrieval cue) prior to extinction training. However, recent evidence suggests that there might be circumstances under which PRE is not effective to prevent the return of fear (boundary conditions), but some of these conditions remain unknown. We explored if rehearsing the CS, US or CS-US contingency during the interval between the retrieval cue and extinction training might change the effects of PRE. One day after differential fear conditioning, healthy human participants (n = 83) underwent either standard extinction (control condition, n = 31) or two different PRE procedures, one in which participants rehearsed the CS-US contingency during the interval between the retrieval cue and extinction (rehearsal condition, n = 25), or another in which they underwent a verbal fluency task directing their attention away from the experimental contingencies during this interval (nonrehearsal condition, n = 27). Return of fear in a reinstatement test was observed in both control and rehearsal conditions, whereas in the nonrehearsal condition there was a generalized increase in response to the CS+ and CS-. Differential response in the rehearsal condition had values slightly smaller than the control group with no significant differences from both control and nonrehearsal conditions. These results suggest that the overt behavior of participants during the interval between a retrieval cue and extinction training might change the effects of PRE in healthy human participants, but further manipulations of these variables are needed to confirm these findings.