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Biol Psychol. 2014 Jul;100:97-105. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2014.06.001. Epub 2014 Jun 11.

The conditioning and extinction of fear in youths: what's sex got to do with it?

Author information

1
Research Center of the Ste-Justine University Hospital, 3175 Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Montréal, Québec H3T 1C5, Canada; Department of Psychology, University of Quebec in Montreal, C.P. 8888 succ. Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec H3C 3P8, Canada.
2
Research Center of the Ste-Justine University Hospital, 3175 Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Montréal, Québec H3T 1C5, Canada; Department of Psychology, University of Montreal, 90 avenue Vincent d'Indy, Montréal, Québec H2V 2S9, Canada; Centre de recherche en neuropsychologie et cognition (CERNEC), University of Montreal, Pavillon Marie-Victorin, Department of Psychology, C.P. 6128 succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7, Canada.
3
Research Center of the Ste-Justine University Hospital, 3175 Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Montréal, Québec H3T 1C5, Canada.
4
National Institute of Mental Health USA, Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, 15K North Drive, MSC-2670, Bethesda, MD 20892-2670, United States.
5
Research Center of the Ste-Justine University Hospital, 3175 Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Montréal, Québec H3T 1C5, Canada; Centre de recherche en neuropsychologie et cognition (CERNEC), University of Montreal, Pavillon Marie-Victorin, Department of Psychology, C.P. 6128 succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7, Canada; Department of Psychiatry, University of Montreal, C.P. 6128 succ. Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7, Canada. Electronic address: francoise.maheu@umontreal.ca.

Abstract

Adult work shows differences in emotional processing influenced by sexes of both the viewer and expresser of facial expressions. We investigated this in 120 healthy youths (57 boys; 10-17 years old) randomly assigned to fear conditioning and extinction tasks using either neutral male or female faces as the conditioned threat and safety cues, and a fearful face paired with a shrieking scream as the unconditioned stimulus. Fear ratings and skin conductance responses (SCRs) were assessed. Male faces triggered increased fear ratings in all participants during conditioning and extinction. Greater differential SCRs were observed in boys viewing male faces and in girls viewing female faces during conditioning. During extinction, differential SCR findings remained significant in boys viewing male faces. Our findings demonstrate how sex of participant and sex of target interact to shape fear responses in youths, and how the type of measure may lead to distinct profiles of fear responses.

KEYWORDS:

Fear conditioning; Fear extinction; Gender; Sex; Skin conductance; Youth

PMID:
24929048
PMCID:
PMC4465596
DOI:
10.1016/j.biopsycho.2014.06.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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