Aerobic exercise and consolidation of fear extinction learning among women with posttraumatic stress disorder.

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Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Report
Length: 451 words

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Keywords Fear recall; Fear reinstatement; Fear responding; Exposure-therapy; Return of fear; Exercise Highlights * Fear extinction paradigms are widely used as a model of exposure therapy in PTSD. * Women with PTSD completed exercise (or control) following fear extinction training. * 24 h later, participants completed fear recall tests assessing return of fear. * Exercise during the consolidation window decreased threat expectancy ratings following reinstatement compared to control. * Exercise may be a promising candidate for improving exposure-based therapies in PTSD. Abstract This study tested whether aerobic exercise delivered during the consolidation window following fear extinction learning reduces the return of fear among women with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Participants (n=35) completed an initial clinical assessment followed by a 3-day fear acquisition, extinction, and recall protocol. On day 1, participants completed a fear acquisition training task in which one geometric shape (conditioning stimulus; CS+) was paired (with 50% probability) with a mild electric shock (unconditioned stimulus; US), while a different shape (CS-) was never paired with the US. On day 2 (24 h later), participants completed a fear extinction training task in which the CS+ no longer predicted administration of the US. Shortly following extinction, participants were randomly assigned to complete either moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (EX) or a light-intensity exercise control (CON) condition. On day 3 (24 h later), participants completed fear recall tests assessing the return of fear (spontaneous recovery, renewal, and reinstatement). Fear responding was assessed via threat expectancy ratings and skin conductance responses (SCR). In the threat expectancy ratings, there were no significant differences between groups in spontaneous recovery; however, EX significantly (p=.02) reduced threat expectancy ratings following reinstatement relative to CON. In SCR measures, there were no significant differences between groups in spontaneous recovery, renewal, or reinstatement. These results support a role for moderate-intensity aerobic exercise during the consolidation window in reducing threat expectations following reinstatement in women with PTSD. Research should continue to examine exercise as a potential method for improving the efficacy of exposure-based therapies. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04113798. Author Affiliation: (a) University of Wisconsin, Department of Psychiatry, 6001 Research Park Boulevard, Madison, WI, 53719-1176, USA (b) University of Kentucky, Department of Psychology, 105 Kastle Hill, Lexington, KY, 40506-0044, USA (c) Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, 300 George St., New Haven, CT, 06511, USA (d) National Center for PTSD, Clinical Neurosciences Division, VA CT Healthcare System, 950 Campbell Avenue, West Haven, CT, 06516, USA * Corresponding author. Article History: Received 21 May 2020; Revised 21 March 2021; Accepted 16 April 2021 Byline: Kevin M. Crombie [kmcrombie@wisc.edu] (a,*), Anneliis Sartin-Tarm (a), Kyrie Sellnow (a), Rachel Ahrenholtz (a), Sierra Lee (a), Megan Matalamaki (a), Tom G. Adams [tgad224@g.uky.edu] (b,c,d), Josh M. Cisler [jcisler2@wisc.edu] (a)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A664259792