Extinction-Reconsolidation boundaries: Key to persistent attenuation of fear memories

Marie H. Monfils, Kiriana K. Cowansage, Eric Klann, Joseph E. Ledoux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dysregulation of the fear system is at the core of many psychiatric disorders. Much progress has been made in uncovering the neural basis of fear learning through studies in which associative emotional memories are formed by pairing an initially neutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus, CS; e.g., a tone) to an unconditioned stimulus (US; e.g., a shock). Despite recent advances, the question of how to persistently weaken aversive CS-US associations, or dampen traumatic memories in pathological cases, remains a major dilemma. Two paradigms (blockade of reconsolidation and extinction) have been used in the laboratory to reduce acquired fear. Unfortunately, their clinical efficacy is limited: Reconsolidation blockade typically requires potentially toxic drugs, and extinction is not permanent. Here, we describe a behavioral design in which a fear memory in rats is destabilized and reinterpreted as safe by presenting an isolated retrieval trial before an extinction session. This procedure permanently attenuates the fear memory without the use of drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)951-955
Number of pages5
Issue number5929
StatePublished - May 15 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Extinction-Reconsolidation boundaries: Key to persistent attenuation of fear memories'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this