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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2014 Sep;113:109-14. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2014.01.016. Epub 2014 Feb 11.

Extinction resistant changes in the human auditory association cortex following threat learning.

Author information

1
Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK; Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. Electronic address: aa545@cam.ac.uk.
2
Department of Psychiatry, Department of Neuroscience, and Friedman Brain Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, New York, NY 10029, United States.
3
Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, NY 10003, United States; Nathan Kline Institute, Orangeburg, NY 10962, United States.
4
Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY 10003, United States; Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, NY 10003, United States; Nathan Kline Institute, Orangeburg, NY 10962, United States.

Abstract

Research in humans has highlighted the importance of the amygdala for transient modulation of cortical areas for enhanced processing of emotional stimuli. However, non-human animal data has shown that amygdala dependent threat (fear) learning can also lead to long lasting changes in cortical sensitivity, persisting even after extinction of fear responses. The neural mechanisms of long-lasting traces of such conditioning in humans have not yet been explored. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and assessed skin conductance responses (SCR) during threat acquisition, extinction learning and extinction retrieval. We provide evidence of lasting cortical plasticity in the human brain following threat extinction and show that enhanced blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal to the learned threat stimulus in the auditory association cortex is resistant to extinction. These findings point to a parallel avenue by which cortical processing of potentially dangerous stimuli can be long lasting, even when immediate threat and the associated amygdala modulation have subsided.

KEYWORDS:

Auditory fear conditioning; Fear conditioning; Fear extinction

PMID:
24525224
PMCID:
PMC4053499
DOI:
10.1016/j.nlm.2014.01.016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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