Korean J Biol Psychiatry.  2011 May;18(2):80-89.

Neural Circuit and Mechanism of Fear Conditioning

  • 1Neural Circuit and Behavior Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Daejeon, Korea. narzoid@gmail.com


Pavlovian fear conditioning has been extensively studied for the understanding of neurobiological basis of memory and emotion. Pavlovian fear conditioning is an associative memory which forms when conditioned stimulus (CS) is paired with unconditioned stimulus (US) once or repeatedly. This behavioral model is also important for the understanding of anxiety disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder. Here we describe the neural circuitry involved in fear conditioning and the molecular mechanisms underlying fear memory formation. During consolidation some memories fade out but other memories become stable and concrete. Emotion plays an important role in determining which memories will survive. Memory becomes unstable and editable again immediately after retrieval. It opens the possibility for us of modulating the established fear memory. It provides us with very efficient tools to improve the efficacy of cognitive-behavior therapy and other exposure-based therapy treating anxiety disorders.


Fear conditioning; Consolidation; Reconsolidation; Extinction; PTSD; Anxiety disorder
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