Although exposure to major psychological trauma is unfortunately common, risk for related neuropsychiatric conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), varies greatly among individuals. Fear extinction offers a tractable and translatable behavioral readout of individual differences in learned recovery from trauma. Studies in rodent substrains and subpopulations are providing new insights into neural system dysfunctions associated with impaired fear extinction. Rapid progress is also being made in identifying key molecular circuits, epigenetic mechanisms, and gene variants associated with differences in fear extinction. Here, we discuss how this research is informing understanding of the etiology and pathophysiology of individual differences in risk for trauma-related anxiety disorders, and how future work can help identify novel diagnostic biomarkers and pharmacotherapeutics for these disorders.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.