Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Mar 15;63(6):587-93. Epub 2007 Aug 14.

The genetic covariation between fear conditioning and self-report fears.

Author information

1
Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23298-0126, USA. jhettema@vcu.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Fear conditioning is a traditional model for the acquisition of phobias, whereas behavioral therapies use processes underlying extinction to treat phobic and other anxiety disorders. Furthermore, fear conditioning has been proposed as an endophenotype for genetic studies of anxiety disorders. Although prior studies have demonstrated that fear conditioning and self-report fears are heritable, no studies have determined whether they share a common genetic basis.

METHODS:

We obtained fear conditioning data from 173 twin pairs from the Swedish Twin Registry who also provided self-report ratings of 16 common fears. With multivariate structural equation modeling, we analyzed factor-derived scores for the subjective fear ratings together with the electrophysiologic skin conductance responses during habituation, acquisition, and extinction to determine the extent of their genetic covariation.

RESULTS:

Phenotypic correlations between experimental and self-report fear measures were modest and, counter-intuitively, negative (i.e., subjects who reported themselves as more fearful had smaller electrophysiologic responses). Best-fit models estimated a significant (negative) genetic correlation between them, although genetic factors underlying fear conditioning accounted for only 9% of individual differences in self-report fears.

CONCLUSIONS:

Experimentally derived fear conditioning measures share only a small portion of the genetic factors underlying individual differences in subjective fears, cautioning against relying too heavily on the former as an endophenotype for genetic studies of phobic disorders.

PMID:
17698042
PMCID:
PMC2268873
DOI:
10.1016/j.biopsych.2007.06.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center