Altered fear learning across development in both mouse and human

Siobhan S. Pattwell, Stéphanie Duhoux, Catherine A. Hartley, David C. Johnson, Deqiang Jing, Mark D. Elliott, Erika J. Ruberry, Alisa Powers, Natasha Mehta, Rui R. Yang, Fatima Soliman, Charles E. Glatt, B. J. Casey, Ipe Ninan, Francis S. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The only evidence-based behavioral treatment for anxiety and stress-related disorders involves desensitization techniques that rely on principles of extinction learning. However, 40% of patients do not respond to this treatment. Efforts have focused on individual differences in treatment response, but have not examined when, during development, such treatments may be most effective. We examined fear-extinction learning across development in mice and humans. Parallel behavioral studies revealed attenuated extinction learning during adolescence. Probing neural circuitry in mice revealed altered synaptic plasticity of prefrontal cortical regions implicated in suppression of fear responses across development. The results suggest a lack of synaptic plasticity in the prefrontal regions, during adolescence, is associated with blunted regulation of fear extinction. These findings provide insight into optimizing treatment outcomes for when, during development, exposure therapies may be most effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16318-16323
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 2 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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