The emerging neuroscience of appetitive and drug cue extinction in humans
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Fear extinction has been extensively studied in both humans and non-human animals, and this work has contributed greatly to our understanding and treatment of anxiety disorders. Yet other psychopathologies like addiction might be associated with impairments selectively in extinction of non-fear based, appetitive and drug cue associations, and these processes have been underexplored in clinical translational neuroscience. Important questions regarding similarities and differences in the neurobiological mechanisms underlying aversive and appetitive extinction remain unanswered, particularly those pertaining to cross-species evidence for the role of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and, to some extent, the striatum. Here, we aim to draw attention to the paucity of studies investigating non-fear based extinction in humans, summarize emerging findings from the available literature, and highlight important directions for future research. We argue that closing these gaps in our understanding could help inform the development of more targeted, and perhaps more durable, forms of extinction-based treatments for addiction and related psychopathologies characterized by abnormally persistent appetitive and drug cue associations.
The authors were supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (F32DA039648 to A.B.K. and R01DA041528 and R21DA020626 to R.Z.G.).
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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