The Neurobiology of Fear Generalization

Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 2018; 12: 329. Published online 2019 Jan 15. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00329 PMID: 30697153
Authored By:
Arun Asok, Eric R. Kandel, Joseph B. Rayman
The generalization of fear memories is an adaptive neurobiological process that promotes survival in complex and dynamic environments. When confronted with a potential threat, an animal must select an appropriate defensive response based on previous experiences that are not identical, weighing cues and contextual information that may predict safety or danger. Like other aspects of fear memory, generalization is mediated by the coordinated actions of prefrontal, hippocampal, amygdalar, and thalamic brain areas. In this review article, we describe the current understanding of the behavioral, neural, genetic, and biochemical mechanisms involved in the generalization of fear. Fear generalization is a hallmark of many anxiety and stress-related disorders, and its emergence, severity, and manifestation are sex-dependent. Therefore, to improve the dialog between human and animal studies as well as to accelerate the development of effective therapeutics, we emphasize the need to examine both sex differences and remote timescales in rodent models.
Published in:
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience

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