Effects of verbal instructions and physical threat removal prior to extinction training on the return of conditioned fear

Julia Wendt, Miriam C. Hufenbach, Jörg König, Alfons O. Hamm
Instructions given prior to extinction training facilitate the extinction of conditioned skin conductance (SCRs) and fear-potentiated startle responses (FPSs) and serve as laboratory models for cognitive interventions implemented in exposure-based treatments of pathological anxiety. Here, we investigated how instructions given prior to extinction training, with or without the additional removal of the electrode used to deliver the unconditioned stimulus (US), affect the return of fear assessed
more » ... 4 hours later. We replicated previous instruction effects on extinction and added that the additional removal of the US electrode slightly enhanced facilitating effects on the extinction of conditioned FPSs. In contrast, extinction instructions hardly affected the return of conditioned fear responses. These findings suggest that instruction effects observed during extinction training do not extent to tests of return of fear 24 hours later which serve as laboratory models of relapse and improvement stability of exposure-based treatments.
doi:10.25932/publishup-44479 fatcat:6adqvfbcujfsllnwtsmbblaeri