Background: Overgeneralization of fear, or fear responses to both signals of danger and safety, has been examined as a feature and causal factor in anxiety. While research to date has focused on relations between fear learning and overgeneralized fear, emerging evidence suggests that disruptions in how we learn about and detect safety in the environment may play an equally important role. Moreover, safety learning may be an important target of prevention and intervention, and could boost the effects of existing treatment approaches.
Our current project investigates how learning about fear and safety in the environment influences overgeneralized fear and experiences of anxiety and stress. We will directly compare our findings to a parallel study with mice, increasing our ability to identify neurobiological mechanisms underlying these effects. Findings have the potential to expand our understanding of etiological mechanisms in anxiety, as well as inform the development of innovative and more targeted treatment approaches.
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