Brain Modifications on Fear Conditioning

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By amccoy515
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The Effects of Brain Modifications on Fear Conditioning

Brain Stimulation and Fear
Conditioned fear is a form of Ivan Pavlov’s classical conditioning in which a subject is conditioned to fear a neutral stimulus. This type of conditioning is most often done on animals and often uses an electric shock as the unconditioned stimulus and pairs that with a neutral stimulus in order to cause the animal to become afraid of the neutral stimulus. This association of fearing the neutral stimulus can be reversed through extinction, which is where only the neutral stimulus is presented without having an electric shock paired with it until the animal stops eliciting a fearful response. However it may take a long time for an animal to undergo extinction. There are now new studies out that have yielded results showing that stimulations or lesions in to the ventral medial prefrontal cortex can accelerate the extinction process (Mohammed & Quirk, 2002). There are other new studies that have shown other parts of the brain such as areas of the hippocampus help to speed up extinction (Maren and Holt, 2004; Keene and Bucci, 2008). All of these studies are of particular interest to researchers because their findings may help in treating people that are suffering from anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Before these procedures can be used on human subjects it is important that researchers narrow down which area of the brain not only speeds up the extinction process but does it with the least amount of side effects.
Some researchers have proposed that the ventral medial prefrontal cortex plays a key component in fear conditioning (Baratta et al., 2000). Since the location of this cortex is in the frontal lobe it is involved in decision making and has also been implicated to show involvement in risk…...

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