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Behav Neurosci. 2001 Apr;115(2):358-64.

Human fear conditioning is related to dopaminergic and serotonergic biological markers.

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Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, Sweden.


Biological markers for acquisition and extinction of fear conditioning were studied in 40 individuals selected for displaying either good or poor acquisition of fear conditioning. as estimated by the skin conductance response. Participants with a short serotonin transporter (5-HTT) promoter allele or low monoamine oxidase activity in platelets (trbc-MAO) displayed better acquisition than those with only long alleles or high trbc-MAO, whereas participants with a long dopamine D4 receptor (D4DR) exon III allele showed delayed extinction compared with those with only short alleles. The findings, that D4DR exon III and 5-HTT promoter genotypes and trbc-MAO activity are related to human fear conditioning, a basic form of associative learning, are consistent with animal studies suggesting a genetic contribution to fear conditioning. The authors suggest that in humans these genetic mechanisms are partly dopaminergic and serotonergic in origin.

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