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J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2005 Jan;31(1):40-55.

Recent exposure to a dangerous context impairs extinction and reinstates lost fear reactions.

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Department of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia.


Rats were shocked in a context and then exposed to that context in the absence of shock. Shorter intervals between these extinction trials produced more long-term freezing than did longer ones, and shorter intervals between the final extinction trial and test produced more freezing than did longer ones. A short interval between a context extinction trial and test with an extinguished conditioned stimulus (CS) produced more freezing than did a longer one, and a short interval between a nonreinforced context exposure and an extinguished CS reinstated freezing when the CS was tested 24 hr later. The results suggest that recent fear acts to favor subsequent retrieval of the memory formed at conditioning rather than extinction and to render the retrieved memory more salient.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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