Extinction of Reinstated or ABC Renewed Fear Responses Renders Them Resistant to Subsequent ABA Renewal

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Three experiments used an ABA renewal paradigm to study deepening of response loss produced by extinction of reinstated or ABC renewed fear responses. In Experiment 1, rats were trained with two stimuli, S1 and S2, in context A and extinguished to S1 in context B and S2 in context C, shocked in B but not in C, and subjected to additional extinction of S1 in B and S2 in C. Rats froze less to S1 than S2 when subsequently tested in A. In Experiments 2 and 3, following training of S1 and S2 in A, one group received extinction of S1 in B and S2 in C followed by extinction of S1 in C and S2 in B. This group froze less to S1 in A or to S2 in a novel context, D, than a group always extinguished to S1 in B and S2 in C or a group extinguished to both S1 and S2 in B and C. These results show that additional extinction of a conditioned stimulus (conditional stimulus [CS]) exhibiting either reinstatement or ABC renewal renders that CS resistant to ABA renewal. They are consistent with theories that allow a role for context in extinction learning and that use error-correction mechanisms to update this learning.

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