Neural and cellular mechanisms of fear and extinction memory formation Academic Article uri icon


  • Over the course of natural history, countless animal species have evolved adaptive behavioral systems to cope with dangerous situations and promote survival. Emotional memories are central to these defense systems because they are rapidly acquired and prepare organisms for future threat. Unfortunately, the persistence and intrusion of memories of fearful experiences are quite common and can lead to pathogenic conditions, such as anxiety and phobias. Over the course of the last 30 years, neuroscientists and psychologists alike have attempted to understand the mechanisms by which the brain encodes and maintains these aversive memories. Of equal interest, though, is the neurobiology of extinction memory formation as this may shape current therapeutic techniques. Here we review the extant literature on the neurobiology of fear and extinction memory formation, with a strong focus on the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying these processes.

altmetric score

  • 8.08

author list (cited authors)

  • Orsini, C. A., & Maren, S.

citation count

  • 273

publication date

  • January 2012