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Impact of a reminder/extinction procedure on threat-conditioned pupil size and skin conductance responses


Zimmermann, Josua; Bach, Dominik R (2020). Impact of a reminder/extinction procedure on threat-conditioned pupil size and skin conductance responses. Learning & Memory, 27(4):164-172.

Abstract

A reminder can render consolidated memory labile and susceptible to amnesic agents during a reconsolidation window. For the case of threat memory (also termed fear memory), it has been suggested that extinction training during this reconsolidation window has the same disruptive impact. This procedure could provide a powerful therapeutic principle for treatment of unwanted aversive memories. However, human research yielded contradictory results. Notably, all published positive replications quantified threat memory by conditioned skin conductance responses (SCR). Yet, other studies measuring SCR and/or fear-potentiated startle failed to observe an effect of a reminder/extinction procedure on the return of fear. Here we sought to shed light on this discrepancy by using a different autonomic response, namely, conditioned pupil dilation, in addition to SCR, in a replication of the original human study. N = 71 humans underwent a 3-d threat conditioning, reminder/extinction, and reinstatement, procedure with 2 CS+, of which one was reminded. Participants successfully learned the threat association on day 1, extinguished conditioned responding on day 2, and showed reinstatement on day 3. However, there was no difference in conditioned responding between the reminded and the nonreminded CS, neither in pupil size nor SCR. Thus, we found no evidence that a reminder trial before extinction prevents the return of threat-conditioned responding.

Abstract

A reminder can render consolidated memory labile and susceptible to amnesic agents during a reconsolidation window. For the case of threat memory (also termed fear memory), it has been suggested that extinction training during this reconsolidation window has the same disruptive impact. This procedure could provide a powerful therapeutic principle for treatment of unwanted aversive memories. However, human research yielded contradictory results. Notably, all published positive replications quantified threat memory by conditioned skin conductance responses (SCR). Yet, other studies measuring SCR and/or fear-potentiated startle failed to observe an effect of a reminder/extinction procedure on the return of fear. Here we sought to shed light on this discrepancy by using a different autonomic response, namely, conditioned pupil dilation, in addition to SCR, in a replication of the original human study. N = 71 humans underwent a 3-d threat conditioning, reminder/extinction, and reinstatement, procedure with 2 CS+, of which one was reminded. Participants successfully learned the threat association on day 1, extinguished conditioned responding on day 2, and showed reinstatement on day 3. However, there was no difference in conditioned responding between the reminded and the nonreminded CS, neither in pupil size nor SCR. Thus, we found no evidence that a reminder trial before extinction prevents the return of threat-conditioned responding.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Life Sciences > Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:April 2020
Deposited On:10 Nov 2022 07:06
Last Modified:27 Apr 2024 01:41
Publisher:Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
ISSN:1072-0502
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1101/lm.050211.119
PubMed ID:32179658
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)