Fear Models in Animals and Humans

  • Catherine A. Hartley
  • Elizabeth A. PhelpsEmail author
Part of the Current Clinical Psychiatry book series (CCPSY)


While fear learning is an adaptive behavior critical to our survival, excessive fear can markedly impair one’s ability to function and is a central characteristic of anxiety disorders. In this chapter, we review research detailing the neurobiological mechanisms underpinning fear learning and regulation. We draw on research in both animal models and humans, highlighting developmental research whenever possible. In the first section we review the brain systems that support fear acquisition through both direct experience and social learning. In the second section, we focus on the various means by which learned fears can be lessened, including extinction, cognitive regulation strategies, actively coping with fear, and persistently inhibiting fear through reconsolidation. This basic fear-learning model provides a neuroscientific framework for understanding the role of Pavlovian fear learning in anxiety disorders and suggests potential approaches for treatment.


Fear Conditioning Extinction Emotion regulation Anxiety 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Departments of Psychology and Neural ScienceNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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