Conditioned Fear Extinction

Since there are competing views and observations for conditioned fear response, researchers have turned to the cellular level to release the specific brain mechanism of extinction. In particular these are brain structures of the amygdala, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and specific neurotransmitter systems (e.g. GABA). A recent study by Amano, Unai, and Pare found extinction is correlated with synaptic inhibition in the fear output of the neurons in the amygdala that project to the periaqueductal gray that controls freezing behavior. They infer that inhibition comes from the prefrontal cortex and suggest targets at the cellular level for new treatments for anxiety.

When an aversive stimulus is coupled with a neutral stimulus it affects long term plasticity in the hippocampus in memory formation. Since the neutral stimulus gates to the amygdala, an aversive stimulus occurs even when aversion isn’t there.

Through neural emotional pathways, it is possible to determine if the stress is somatosensory, visual, auditory, etc that is causing pain in processing and functioning. In further use of neurons, we create a resolution, bring up a suppression, modulate or have an expression of the conditioned fear to alleviate the stress and provide more comfortable functioning.

This can be done by phone and in person.

Relationship of Amygdala to Fear and Pain

Amygdala is the name of a collection of nuclei found in the anterior portion of the temporal lobe. It receives projections from the frontal cortex, association cortex, temporal lobe, olfactory system and other parts of the limbic system. It sends afferants to frontal, prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, hypothalamus, hippocampus and brainstem nuclei.

The amygdala when confronted with fearful sensory input from the outside as well as from viscera inside sends signals through the hippocampus and the amygdala and shuts down the periaquaductal grey centers. At this juncture, the fear affects eyesight, muscles, fascia, TMJ, and the systems of breathing and autonomic functioning.

The sensory pathways diverge, one going to the amygdala and the other to the cortex. In the cortex we analyze fear, although once an emotion is turned on, it is difficult for the cortex to turn it off.

Recent brain imaging and neuroscience research have revealed the pathways to create resolution, decision making, modulating and expression of these stressors for new found freedom from fear and panic, pain, and conflict which lead to states of joy, satisfaction and increased brain functioning.