Extinction of emotional learning: contribution of medial prefrontal cortex

Neurosci Lett. 1993 Nov 26;163(1):109-13. doi: 10.1016/0304-3940(93)90241-c.


Stimuli associated with painful or otherwise unpleasant events acquire aversive emotional properties in animals and humans. Subsequent presentation of the stimulus alone (in the absence of the unpleasant event) leads to the eventual extinction of the aversive reaction. Although the neural basis of emotional learning has been studied extensively, considerably less is known about the neural basis of emotional extinction. In the present study, we show that the medial prefrontal cortex plays an important role in the regulation of fear extinction in rats, a finding that may help elucidate the mechanisms and, possibly, the treatment of disorders of uncontrolled fear, such as anxiety, phobic, panic and posttraumatic stress disorders in humans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley