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A09 – The impact of stress and stress hormones on extinction, renewal, reinstatement and reconsolidation

Oliver Wolf, Christian Merz

The impact of cortisol administration or exposure to stress on extinction processes will be tested in four domains. First, effects of cortisol on stimulus-based fear generalization during extinction will be explored using neuroimaging. Second, effects of a novel method of reactivation (presentation of the UCS) combined with cortisol administration on reconsolidation and fear generalization will be tested. Third, the influence of stress on context-dependent reinstatement will be investigated. Fourth, phase dependent stress effects on extinction of operant behavior will be characterized using appetitive and aversive consequences.

Guiding questions of A09:

  • Does the stress hormone cortisol influence extinction generalization and what are the neural correlates?
  • Does reactivation with the UCS combined with cortisol administration lead to enhanced reconsolidation and stimulus generalization?
  • Does context modulate the reinstatement effect and is this further potentiated by stress?
  • Are the effects of stress on the extinction of operant behavior similar to the effects observed for classical conditioning and are they comparable for appetitive and aversive learning?
Bianca Hagedorn

Bianca Hagedorn

Doktorandin A09

Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Valerie Jentsch

Valerie Jentsch

Postdoc A09

Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Christian Merz

Christian Merz

Projektleiter A09

Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Oliver T. Wolf

Oliver T. Wolf

Projektleiter A09

Ruhr-Universität Bochum

10 project-relevant publications

Hamacher-Dang TC, Engler H, Schedlowski M, Wolf OT (2013) Stress enhances the consolidation of extinction memory in a predictive learning task. Front Behav Neurosci. 7: 108.

Hamacher-Dang TC, Merz CJ, Wolf OT (2015) Stress following extinction learning leads to a context-dependent return of fear. Psychophysiology. 52(4): 489–498.

Hamacher-Dang TC, Uengoer M, Wolf OT (2013) Stress impairs retrieval of extinguished and unextinguished associations in a predictive learning task. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 104: 1–8.

Kinner VL, Merz CJ, Lissek S, Wolf OT (2016) Cortisol disrupts the neural correlates of extinction recall. Neuroimage. 133: 233–243.

Kinner VL, Wolf OT, Merz CJ (2016) Cortisol alters reward processing in the human brain. Horm Behav. 84: 75–83.

Meir Drexler S, Merz CJ, Hamacher-Dang TC, Tegenthoff M, Wolf OT (2015) Effects of Cortisol on Reconsolidation of Reactivated Fear Memories. Neuropsychopharmacology. 40(13): 3036–3043.

Merz CJ, Hamacher-Dang TC, Wolf OT (2014) Exposure to stress attenuates fear retrieval in healthy men. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 41: 89–96.

Mosig C, Merz CJ, Mohr C, Adolph D, Wolf OT, Schneider S, Margraf J, Zlomuzica A (2014) Enhanced discriminative fear learning of phobia-irrelevant stimuli in spider-fearful individuals. Front Behav Neurosci. 8: 328.

Schwabe L, Nader K, Wolf OT, Beaudry T, Pruessner JC (2012) Neural signature of reconsolidation impairments by propranolol in humans. Biol Psychiatry. 71(4): 380–386.

Utz A, Thürling M, Ernst TM, Hermann A, Stark R, Wolf OT, Timmann D, Merz CJ (2015) Cerebellar vermis contributes to the extinction of conditioned fear. Neurosci Lett. 604: 173–177.