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Reinstatement of fear to an extinguished conditioned context

Research paper by Rick Richardson, Tania Q. Duffield, Glynis K. Bailey, R. Frederick Westbrook

Indexed on: 01 Dec '99Published on: 01 Dec '99Published in: Animal learning & behavior



Abstract

Rats were shocked in the black but not the white compartment of a shuttlebox and then exposed to the black compartment in the absence of the shock unconditioned stimulus (US) to extinguish fear responses (passive avoidance). In five experiments, rats were then shocked in a reinstatement context (distinctively different from the shuttlebox) to determine the conditions that reinstate extinguished fear responding to the black compartment. Rats shocked immediately upon exposure to the reinstatement chamber failed to show either reinstatement of avoidance of the black compartment or fear responses (freezing) when tested in the reinstatement chamber. In contrast, rats shocked 30 sec after exposure to the reinstatement chamber exhibited both reinstatement of avoidance of the black compartment and freezing responses in the reinstatement chamber (Experiment 1). Rats shocked after 30 sec of exposure to the reinstatement chamber but then exposed to that chamber in the absence of shock failed to exhibit reinstatement of the avoidance response and did not freeze when tested in the reinstatement chamber (Experiment 2). Rats exposed to a signaled shock in the reinstatement chamber and then exposed to that chamber in the absence of shock also failed to exhibit reinstatement of the avoidance response (Experiment 5). These rats showed fear responses to the signal but not to the reinstatement chamber. Finally, rats exposed for some time (20 min) to the reinstatement chamber before shock exhibited reinstatement of the avoidance response but failed to freeze when tested in the reinstatement chamber (Experiments 3 and 4). These results are discussed in terms of the contextual conditioning (Bouton, 1994) and the US representation (Rescorla, 1979) accounts of postextinction reinstatement.