Clinical research has linked post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with deficits in fear extinction. However, it is not clear whether these deficits result from stress-related changes in the acquisition or retention of extinction or in the regulation of extinction memories by context, for example. In this study, we used the single prolonged stress (SPS) animal model of PTSD and fear conditioning procedures to examine the effects of prior traumatic stress on the acquisition, retention, and context-specificity of extinction. SPS administered one week prior to fear conditioning had no effect on the acquisition of fear conditioning or extinction but disrupted the retention of extinction memories for both contextual and cued fear. This SPS effect required a post-stress incubation period to manifest. The results demonstrate that SPS disrupts extinction retention, leading to enhanced fear renewal; further research is needed to identify the neurobiological processes through which SPS induces these effects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience