Temporally massed CS presentations generate more fear extinction than spaced presentations

J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2003 Oct;29(4):323-33. doi: 10.1037/0097-7403.29.4.323.


Rodent fear conditioning models both excitatory learning and the pathogenesis of human anxiety, whereas extinction of conditional fear is a paradigm of inhibitory learning and the explicit model for behavior therapy. Many studies support a general learning rule for acquisition: Temporally spaced training is more effective than massed training. The authors asked whether this rule applies to extinction of conditional fear in mice. The authors find that both short- and long-term fear extinction are greater with temporally massed presentations of the conditional stimulus (CS). The data also indicate that once CS presentations are sufficiently massed to initiate, or "induce," extinction learning, further CS presentations are more effective when spaced.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Psychological*
  • Extinction, Psychological*
  • Fear*
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Time Factors