Behaviour Research and Therapy vol:45 issue:2 pages:375-383
In a human fear conditioning experiment, with on-line expectancy ratings and electrodermal responding as indices of fear, two neutral stimuli (Pictures of geometric shapes) were first established as reliable predictors of an electric shock. In the subsequent extinction phase, the two Stimuli were repeatedly presented in compound, without the shock. The final test phase consisted of individual stimulus presentations again, which resulted in a Strong return of the conditioned responses. This effect was not observed in non-conditioned control stimuli. Hence, behavioral effects of extinction seem highly specific to the stimulus constellation that has gone through the extinction procedure. We argue that pharmacological, behavioral and/or cognitive manipulations that could prevent configural processing of stimulus constellations have direct clinical potential. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.