Neural Substrates of Overgeneralized Conditioned Fear in PTSD.

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The American journal of psychiatry, ISSN: 1535-7228, Vol: 174, Issue: 2, Page: 125-134

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Kaczkurkin, Antonia N; Burton, Philip C; Chazin, Shai M; Manbeck, Adrienne B; Espensen-Sturges, Tori; Cooper, Samuel E; Sponheim, Scott R; Lissek, Shmuel
American Psychiatric Publishing
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article description
Heightened generalization of fear from an aversively reinforced conditioned stimulus (CS+, a conditioned danger cue) to resembling stimuli is widely accepted as a pathogenic marker of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Indeed, a distress response to benign stimuli that "resemble" aspects of the trauma is a central feature of the disorder. To date, the link between overgeneralization of conditioned fear and PTSD derives largely from clinical observations, with limited empirical work on the subject. This represents the first effort to examine behavioral and brain indices of generalized conditioned fear in PTSD using systematic methods developed in animals known as generalization gradients: the gradual decline in conditioned responding as the presented stimulus gradually differentiates from CS+.