Fear Extinction Learning in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Academic Article uri icon


  • Impairments in fear extinction processes have been implicated in the genesis and maintenance of debilitating psychopathologies, including Posttraumatic stress disorder(PTSD). PTSD, classified as a trauma- and stressor-related disorder, is characterized by four symptom clusters: intrusive recollections of trauma, avoidance of trauma-related stimuli, alterations in cognition and mood, and hyperarousal. One of the key pathological feature associated with the persistence of these symptoms is impaired fear extinction, as delineated in multiple studies employing Pavlovian fear-conditioning paradigms. These paradigms, comprising fear acquisition, extinction, extinction recall, and fear renewal phases, have illuminated the neurobiological substrates of PTSD. Dysfunctions in the neural circuits that mediate these fear learning and extinction processes can result in failure to extinguish fear responses and retain extinction memory, giving rise to enduring experience of fear and anxiety. The protective avoidance behaviors observed in individuals with PTSD further exacerbate intrusive symptoms and pose challenges to effective treatment strategies. A comprehensive analysis of fear conditioning and extinction processes, along with the underlying neurobiology, could significantly enhance our understanding of PTSD pathophysiology. This chapter delineates the role of fear extinction processes in PTSD, investigates the underlying neurobiological substrates, and underscores the therapeutic implications, while also identifying future research directions.

published proceedings

  • Curr Top Behav Neurosci

author list (cited authors)

  • Lokshina, Y., Sheynin, J., Vogt, G. S., & Liberzon, I.

complete list of authors

  • Lokshina, Yana||Sheynin, Jony||Vogt, Gregory S||Liberzon, Israel

publication date

  • August 2023