Medial prefrontal cortex stimulation modulates the processing of conditioned fear

  • The extinction of conditioned fear depends on an efficient interplay between the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). In rats, high-frequency electrical mPFC stimulation has been shown to improve extinction by means of a reduction of amygdala activity. However, so far it is unclear whether stimulation of homologues regions in humans might have similar beneficial effects. Healthy volunteers received one session of either active or sham repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) covering the mPFC while undergoing a 2-day fear conditioning and extinction paradigm. Repetitive TMS was applied offline after fear acquisition in which one of two faces (CS+ but not CS−) was associated with an aversive scream (UCS). Immediate extinction learning (day 1) and extinction recall (day 2) were conducted without UCS delivery. Conditioned responses (CR) were assessed in a multimodal approach using fear-potentiated startle (FPS), skin conductance responses (SCR), functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), and self-report scales. Consistent with the hypothesis of a modulated processing of conditioned fear after high-frequency rTMS, the active group showed a reduced CS+/CS− discrimination during extinction learning as evident in FPS as well as in SCR and arousal ratings. FPS responses to CS+ further showed a linear decrement throughout both extinction sessions. This study describes the first experimental approach of influencing conditioned fear by using rTMS and can thus be a basis for future studies investigating a complementation of mPFC stimulation to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

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Author:Anne Guhn, Thomas Dresler, Marta Andreatta, Laura D. Müller, Tim HahnORCiDGND, Sara V. Tupak, Thomas Polak, Jürgen Deckert, Martin J. Herrmann
URN:urn:nbn:de:hebis:30:3-334149
DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00044
ISSN:1662-5153
Pubmed Id:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24600362
Parent Title (English):Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
Place of publication:Lausanne
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Date of Publication (online):2014/02/18
Date of first Publication:2014/02/18
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2014/04/04
Tag:fear conditioning; learning; medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC); memory consolidation and extinction; transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
Volume:8
Issue:44
Page Number:11
Note:
Copyright © 2014 Guhn, Dresler, Andreatta, Müller, Hahn, Tupak, Polak, Deckert and Herrmann. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
HeBIS-PPN:36444682X
Institutes:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften / Psychologie
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Sammlungen:Universitätspublikationen
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 3.0