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Int J Psychophysiol. 2012 Apr;84(1):26-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2012.01.004. Epub 2012 Jan 15.

P50 suppression in human discrimination fear conditioning paradigm using danger and safety signals.

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Research Center for Child Mental Development, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Japan.


Auditory P50 suppression, which is assessed using a paired auditory stimuli (S1 and S2) paradigm to record the P50 mid-latency evoked potential, is assumed to reflect sensory gating. Recently, P50 suppression deficits were observed in patients with anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, as we previously reported. The processes of fear conditioning are thought to play a role in the pathophysiology of anxiety disorders. In addition, we found that the P50 sensory gating mechanism might be physiologically associated with fear conditioning and extinction in a simple human fear-conditioning paradigm that involved a light signal as a conditioned stimulus (CS+). Our objective was to investigate the different patterns of P50 suppression in a discrimination fear-conditioning paradigm with both a CS+ (danger signal) and a CS- (safety signal). Twenty healthy volunteers were recruited. We measured the auditory P50 suppression in the control (baseline) phase, in the fear-acquisition phase, and in the fear-extinction phase using a discrimination fear-conditioning paradigm. Two-way (CSs vs. phase) Analysis of variance with repeated measures demonstrated a significant interaction between the two factors. Post-hoc LSD analysis indicated that the P50 S2/S1 ratio in the CS+ acquisition phase was significantly higher than that in the CS- acquisition phase. These results suggest that the auditory P50 sensory gating might differ according to the cognition of the properties (potentially dangerous or safe) of the perceived signal.

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