SCIENCE CHINA Life Sciences, Volume 61 , Issue 6 : 625-632(2018) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11427-018-9294-4

Behavioral interventions to eliminate fear responses

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  • ReceivedJan 22, 2018
  • AcceptedFeb 26, 2018
  • PublishedMay 7, 2018


Fear memory underlies anxiety-related disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a fear-based disorder, characterized by difficulties in extinguishing the learned fear response and maintaining extinction. Currently, the first-line treatment for PTSD is exposure therapy, which forms an extinction memory to compete with the original fear memory. However, the extinguished fear often returns under numerous circumstances, suggesting that novel methods are needed to eliminate fear memory or facilitate extinction memory. This review discusses research that targeted extinction and reconsolidation to manipulate fear memory. Recent studies indicate that sleep is an active state that can regulate memory processes. We also discuss the influence of sleep on fear memory. For each manipulation, we briefly summarize the neural mechanisms that have been identified in human studies. Finally, we highlight potential limitations and future directions in the field to better translate existing interventions to clinical settings.

Funded by

the National Key Technology Research and Development Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China(2015BAI13B01)


This work was supported by the National Key Technology Research and Development Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2015BAI13B01).

Interest statement

The author(s) declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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