-Adrenoceptor Blockade in the Basolateral Amygdala, But Not the Medial Prefrontal Cortex, Rescues the Immediate Extinction Deficit. Academic Article uri icon


  • Early psychological interventions, such as exposure therapy, rely on extinction learning to reduce the development of stress- and trauma-related disorders. However, recent research suggests that extinction often fails to reduce fear when administered soon after trauma. This immediate extinction deficit (IED) may be due to stress-induced dysregulation of neural circuits involved in extinction learning. We have shown that systemic -adrenoceptor blockade with propranolol rescues the IED, but impairs delayed extinction. Here we sought to determine the neural locus of these effects. Rats underwent auditory fear conditioning and then received either immediate (30min) or delayed (24h) extinction training. We used bilateral intracranial infusions of propranolol into either the infralimbic division of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) or the basolateral amygdala (BLA) to examine the effects of -adrenoceptor blockade on immediate and delayed extinction learning. Interestingly, intra-BLA, but not intra-mPFC, propranolol rescued the IED; animals receiving intra-BLA propranolol prior to immediate extinction showed less spontaneous recovery of fear during extinction retrieval. Importantly, this was not due to impaired consolidation of the conditioning memory. In contrast, neither intra-BLA nor intra-mPFC propranolol affected delayed extinction learning. Overall, these data contribute to a growing literature suggesting dissociable roles for key nodes in the fear extinction circuit depending on the timing of extinction relative to conditioning. These data also suggest that heightened noradrenergic activity in the BLA underlies stress-induced extinction deficits. Propranolol may be a useful adjunct to behavioral therapeutic interventions in recently traumatized individuals who are at risk for developing trauma-related disorders.

published proceedings

  • Neuropsychopharmacology

altmetric score

  • 17.4

author list (cited authors)

  • Giustino, T. F., Seemann, J. R., Acca, G. M., Goode, T. D., Fitzgerald, P. J., & Maren, S.

citation count

  • 33

complete list of authors

  • Giustino, Thomas F||Seemann, Jocelyn R||Acca, Gillian M||Goode, Travis D||Fitzgerald, Paul J||Maren, Stephen

publication date

  • December 2017