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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Trauma and Extinction

Traumatic memories are burned into the brain's amygdala. During EMDR therapy, a patient recalls a traumatic memory, usually in a therapist-induced hypnotic state, while they are subjected to various stimuli. It is outpatient practiced by psychologists at many hospitals.

In psychology, extinction refers to a conditioned stimulus failing to induce its conditioned response. When Pavlov's dogs' feedings were paired with a bell, even in the absence of food the sound of the bell at any time would cause the dogs to salivate. But if the bell were wrung in the absence of food often enough, it would not longer cause the dogs to drool1. Fear extinction has also been demonstrated by giving rats an electric shock while playing a tone and then playing the tone without a shock2.

1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_conditioning#Extinction_and_spontaneous_recovery_classical_conditioning
2http://learnmem.cshlp.org/content/9/6/402.long

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