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The impact of sex differences on fear extinction and extinction recall


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To, A 2016 , 'The impact of sex differences on fear extinction and extinction recall', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Research indicates that sex differences are observed in the incidence of anxiety disorders, with females more likely to have an anxiety disorder than males. Animal and human studies suggest that gonadol hormones may influence the rate of extinction learning. In particular, studies have indicated that low oestrogen levels in females may impair extinction recall. The aim of the current study was to replicate the findings obtained by previous authors, by investigating sex differences in fear conditioning, fear extinction, and extinction recall, in particular in women with low levels of oestrogen. It was hypothesised that women with low oestrogen would display impaired fear extinction and extinction recall, in comparison to men, which was measured by skin conductance responses (SCR). Twenty-seven participants (fifteen females; twelve males) underwent a differential fear conditioning and fear extinction paradigm. Results revealed no sex differences in fear acquisition or late extinction. However, males displayed greater SCR to the CS- in early extinction, which may reflect greater arousal to uncertainty. Contrary to predictions, no significant sex differences were observed in the early recall phase. However, females displayed a trend for greater SCR responses during late recall, relative to men. These findings provide some support that females with low oestrogen display poorer fear extinction retention, compared to men. In addition, the findings suggest that males display enhanced responses to safety signals during extinction. It is possible that oestrogen may be an important factor in consolidating extinction memories, but further research is required to determine the role of oestrogen in facilitating extinction recall.

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:To, A
Keywords: fear conditioning. oestrogen, menstrual cycle, early follicular, gonadol hormones
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Copyright 2015 the author

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