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Exposure Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Factors of Limited Success and Possible Alternative Treatment

Psychology Department, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
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Brain Sci. 2020, 10(3), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10030167
Received: 13 February 2020 / Revised: 10 March 2020 / Accepted: 10 March 2020 / Published: 13 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neurobiology of Fear: From Basic Mechanisms to Therapeutic Approaches)
Recent research indicates that there is mixed success in using exposure therapies on patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our study argues that there are two major reasons for this: The first is that there are nonassociative aspects of PTSD, such as hyperactive amygdala activity, that cannot be attenuated using the exposure therapy; The second is that exposure therapy is conceptualized from the theoretical framework of Pavlovian fear extinction, which we know is heavily context dependent. Thus, reducing fear response in a therapist’s office does not guarantee reduced response in other situations. This study also discusses work relating to the role of the hippocampus in context encoding, and how these findings can be beneficial for improving exposure therapies. View Full-Text
Keywords: post-traumatic stress disorder; exposure therapy; fear extinction; nonassociative post-traumatic stress disorder; exposure therapy; fear extinction; nonassociative
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Markowitz, S.; Fanselow, M. Exposure Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Factors of Limited Success and Possible Alternative Treatment. Brain Sci. 2020, 10, 167.

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