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A review of boundary conditions and variables involved in the prevention of return of fear after post-retrieval extinction

Zuccolo, Pedro Fonseca, Hunziker, Maria Helena Leite
Behavioural processes 2019 v.162 pp. 39-54
extinction, fearfulness, humans
Experimental evidence suggests that the return of fear may be prevented by post-retrieval extinction (PRE), a procedure consisting of extinction training after the presentation of a retrieval cue. However, attempts to replicate these findings have yielded mixed results, with some studies showing diminished fear responses after PRE, whereas others show no effect on the return of fear following this procedure. The discrepancies across studies have been interpreted as evidence that there might be conditions under which PRE is not effective (boundary conditions), but these variables have yet to be fully described. We aimed to provide an overview of PRE in humans. We briefly present the theory and research that originated post-retrieval procedures with a focus on the experimental setup used in human studies. We continue with a compilation of possible experimental boundary conditions along with some questions for future research.