Conducting extinction in multiple contexts does not necessarily attenuate the renewal of shock expectancy in a fear-conditioning procedure with humans
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The renewal of Pavlovian-conditioned responses may provide a model for the relapse of fear following extinction-based treatments for anxiety disorders. Renewal can be observed if conditional stimulus (CS) and unconditional stimulus (US) pairings are given in one context, extinction trials of CS presentations in a second context, prior to test trials of CS presentations in the original acquisition context (ABA renewal). We examined ABA renewal in humans by using a fear-conditioning procedure with an unpleasant shock US. A renewal of rated shock expectancy was demonstrated with this procedure. Conducting extinction treatment in multiple contexts was expected to attenuate the renewal effect. However, the renewal of shock expectancy persisted when extinction treatment was given across three or five different contexts. With the current renewal design, learning task, and measure of conditioned behaviour, extinction treatment does not appear to readily generalise to the test context. The use of multiple extinction treatments in a clinical setting may not necessarily reduce the likelihood of relapse via a renewal effect.
Behaviour Research and Therapy
© 2007 Elsevier. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.