Stimulus-specific enhancement of fear extinction during slow-wave sleep

Nat Neurosci. 2013 Nov;16(11):1553-5. doi: 10.1038/nn.3527. Epub 2013 Sep 22.


Sleep can strengthen memory for emotional information, but whether emotional memories can be specifically targeted and modified during sleep is unknown. In human subjects who underwent olfactory contextual fear conditioning, re-exposure to the odorant context in slow-wave sleep promoted stimulus-specific fear extinction, with parallel reductions of hippocampal activity and reorganization of amygdala ensemble patterns. Thus, fear extinction may be selectively enhanced during sleep, even without re-exposure to the feared stimulus itself.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology
  • Electroshock / adverse effects
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology*
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odorants
  • Oxygen
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Wakefulness
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen