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This research was funded by Australian Research Council Discovery Grant DP1096570.
Four experiments used a within-subjects design with rats to study the effects of preexposure on the restoration of fear responses (freezing) to an extinguished conditioned stimulus (CS). In each experiment, rats were preexposed to one CS (A), but not to another (B), and then were exposed to pairings of each of these CSs with an aversive unconditioned stimulus (US). In each experiment, there was less freezing to A than to B across extinction, showing a latent inhibitory effect of preexposure. There was no differential recovery to A and B following either a US reexposure (Experiment 1) or a delay interval (Experiment 2). However, when a delay interval included US reexposure, there was greater recovery to the preexposed CS, A, than to the nonpreexposed CS, B (Experiments 1, 3, and 4). These results suggest that the effects of US reexposure and delay combine to affect recovery from the depressive effects of CS-alone exposure. The results are consistent with the view that US reexposure produces better mediated conditioning of CSs that are strongly associated with the context. The results may additionally reflect an effect of preexposure on the learning produced by extinction.
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- Pre-exposure enhances recovery of conditioned responding after extinction
Nathan M. Holmes
Justin A. Harris
R. Frederick Westbrook
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