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Treasure Box Funding for Giorgi Batsikadze (A05): Modulation of Fear

We are proud to present Giorgi Batsikadzes’ (Post-Doc A05) research proposal “Modulation of Extinction of Conditioned Fear by Non-invasive Cerebellar Electric Stimulation” tackling an issue that concerns the modulation of the learned fear by non-invasive brain stimulation. To date, only small number of studies have tried using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) with fear conditioning/extinction paradigms and the results are indecisive.

Transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), however, has been proven to be very effective in entrainment of specific endogenous oscillations by their synchronisation with extrinsic stimuli. It has been demonstrated that gamma (30-150Hz) and theta (4-8Hz) oscillations are involved in associative learning, therefore, the treasure box candidate plans to test whether tACS technique in these frequencies can modulate extinction of fear memories by affecting the above-mentioned oscillations.

Giorgi Batsikadze plans to apply cerebellar tDCS and tACS during the extinction phase of the two-day fear conditioning/extinction paradigm (A-B-B). He expects tDCS to facilitate fear extinction and tACS to be more successful than tDCS, since it can target only specific fear conditioning and extinction-related neuronal oscillations. This approach will allow him to explore the impact of cerebellar tACS on extinction of the learned fear using the above-mentioned experimental paradigm for the first time.

The SFB 1280 has set up a budget for the realisation of the research ideas of its young scientists. With the “treasure box”, we finance convincing and independent study concepts of young scientists.