Arguably, numerous neurological scholars contend that fear extinction can be classified as a form of new learning that does not particularly erase, but rather, inhabits the previously acquired fear memories. Lonsdorf & Merz (2017) hypothetically contend that fear extinction causes the partial erasure of the fear memories. On the other hand, fear conditioning is said to be behavioural in which living organisms and in most cases, humans, learn how to predict aversive events. Unlike fear extinction, fear conditioning is a form of associative learning through which animals learn the association of the conditioned stimulus with the presence of the unconditioned stimulus, which is also known as the motivationally significant stimulus (Lai, Franke, & Gan, 2012). Besides, there seems to be a broad range of agreement between researches done by various neurological scholars who highlight that fear conditioning to either a particular context of the cue is said to be a representation of a kind of associative learning that is primarily used in many species.
Concerning the neurobiology of fear responses, Jin et al. (2014) indicate that the amygdala, which is a mass of grey matter in the inside of each cerebral hemisphere plays a significant role in conditioned fear and also anxiety. Being part of the neurological system, numerous amygdaloid areas of projection are substantially involved in signs that are particularly used to measure both fear and anxiety. Gamma-aminobutyric and glutamate, on the other hand, are associated with, and also play a significant role in fear extinction (Maren, Phan & Liberzon, 2013). According to the recent literature on the neural basis of fear extinction, the neurotransmitters gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate are critically involved in the treatment of fear dysregulation, especially in humans (Kondo, 2013). This dysregulation procedure primarily involves the exposure of the patient being treated to the feared object, usually in the absence of any kind of overt danger.
Jin, Z., Bhandage, A. K., Bazov, I., Kononenko, O., Bakalkin, G., Korpi, E. R., & Birnir, B. (2014). Expression of specific ionotropic glutamate and GABA-A receptor subunits is decreased in central amygdala of alcoholics. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 8(288). doi:10.3389/fncel.2014.00288
Kondo, M., Nakamura, Y., Ishida, Y., Yamada, T., & Shimada, S. (2013). The 5-HT3A receptor is essential for fear extinction. Learning & Memory, 21(1), 740-743. doi:10.1101/lm.032193.113
Lai, C. S., Franke, T. F., & Gan, W. (2012). Opposite effects of fear conditioning and extinction on dendritic spine remodelling. Nature, 483(7387), 87-91. doi:10.1038/nature10792
Lonsdorf, T. B., & Merz, C. J. (2017). More than just noise: Inter-individual differences in fear acquisition, extinction and return of fear in humans - Biological, experiential, temperamental factors, and methodological pitfalls. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 80, 703-728. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.07.007
Maren, S., Phan, K. L., & Liberzon, I. (2013). The contextual brain: implications for fear conditioning, extinction and psychopathology. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 14(6), 417-428. doi:10.1038/nrn3492
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