Nov 16, 2010

Unpaired extinction: implications for treating post-traumatic stress disorder

Journal of Psychiatric Research
Bernard G SchreursLauren B Burhans

Abstract

Extinction of fear is important for treating stress-related conditions particularly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although traditional extinction presents the feared stimulus by itself, there is evidence from both clinical and basic research that repeatedly presenting the feared stimulus by itself does not prevent fear from returning. This renewal or relapse can be "thwarted" by unpaired extinction-presentations of the feared stimulus and the event producing the fear. However, no matter how effective standard unpaired extinction may be in the laboratory, repeated presentation of a traumatic event is untenable. To make an unpaired extinction procedure more clinically relevant, we classically conditioned the rabbit nictitating membrane response using electrical stimulation or air puff as the unconditioned stimulus and then during unpaired extinction reduced both the intensity of the unconditioned stimulus and the days of unpaired stimulus presentations. We found unpaired extinction reduced conditioned and exaggerated unconditioned responding (an animal analog of PTSD called conditioning-specific reflex modification) and could be accomplished with a weak unconditioned stimulus as long as extended presentations were used. ...Continue Reading

Mentioned in this Paper

Neuro-Oncological Ventral Antigen 2
Heart Beat
Behavior, Animal
Physiologic Pulse
Auriculotemporal Syndrome
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Fear (Mental Process)
Acoustic Stimulation
Extinction, Psychological
Factor Analysis, Statistical

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