Active Avoidance and Escape Learning

C. K. Cain, J. S. Choi, J. E. LeDoux

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Active avoidance and escape are instrumental learning paradigms where animals, including the human, control exposure to aversive stimuli by emitting active defensive responses. Avoidance and escape are normally adaptive responses that keep organisms safe. These responses can be maladaptive, however, when they interfere with normal function and well-being. The present article examines the transition from passive Pavlovian fear reactions to active instrumental actions in aversive situations. Theoretical issues are discussed and brain mechanisms of avoidance and escape are reviewed. Finally, implications for the development and treatment of pathological anxiety are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Behavioral Neuroscience, Three-Volume Set, 1-3
ISBN (Electronic)9780080453965
ISBN (Print)9780080914558
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


  • Actions
  • Active avoidance
  • Amygdala
  • Coping
  • Escape
  • Fear
  • Instrumental
  • Negative reinforcement
  • Pavlovian
  • Reactions
  • Safety
  • Species-specific defense reactions
  • Striatum
  • Two-factor theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience


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