Recalling safety: Cooperative functions of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus in extinction

Kevin A. Corcoran, Gregory J. Quirk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

78 Scopus citations

Abstract

Anxiety disorders are commonly treated with exposure-based therapies that rely on extinction of conditioned fear. Persistent fear and anxiety following exposure therapy could reflect a deficit in the recall of extinction learning. Animal models of fear learning have elucidated a neural circuit for extinction learning and recall that includes the amygdala, ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), and hippocampus. Whereas the amygdala is important for extinction learning, the vmPFC is a site of neural plasticity that allows for the inhibition of fear during extinction recall. We suggest that the vmPFC receives convergent information from other brain regions, such as contextual information from the hippocampus, to determine the circumstances under which extinction or fear will be recalled. Imaging studies of human fear conditioning and extinction lend credence to this extinction network. Understanding the neural circuitry underlying extinction recall will lead to more effective therapies for disorders of fear and anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-206
Number of pages7
JournalCNS spectrums
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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