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Author Notes:

Tanja Jovanovic : Dept of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Emory University School of Medicine 49 Jesse Hill Jr Dr, Suite 331 Atlanta, GA 30303 Tel: (404) 778-1485 Fax: (404) 778-1488

We thank Allen Graham; Angelo Brown; and the Grady Trauma Project staff for their assistance with participant recruitment and data collection.

Drs. Jovanovic, Smith, Davis, Norrholm, and Bradley report no financial disclosures.

Ms. Nylocks and Gamwell have no conflicts of interest.


Research Funding:

This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grants MH070129 and MH100122 (PI, T.J.); the Emory Medical Care Foundation; the Atlanta Clinical Translational Science Institute; the NIH National Centers for Research Resources (M01 RR00039).

This work was funded in part by the Brain and Behavior Foundation (formerly NARSAD; S.D.N. and T.J.).


  • Science & Technology
  • Social Sciences
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Neurosciences
  • Psychology
  • Psychology, Multidisciplinary
  • Neurosciences & Neurology
  • Fear conditioning
  • Extinction
  • Children
  • Development
  • Anxiety

Development of fear acquisition and extinction in children: Effects of age and anxiety


Journal Title:

Neurobiology of Learning and Memory


Volume 113


, Pages 135-142

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Development of anxiety disorders is associated with neurobiological changes in areas that are a critical part of the fear neurocircuitry. Fear conditioning paradigms can offer insight into the mechanisms underlying the neurobiological ontogeny of anxiety. A small number of studies have focused on the effects of age and anxiety separately in school age children. The present study aimed to investigate these effects in 8-13. year old children with higher and lower trait anxiety. We examined differential fear conditioning and extinction using skin conductance responses and fear-potentiated startle in 60 children recruited from a low-income urban population. The results indicated that children under 10. years of age show poor discrimination of conditioned stimuli, and that anxiety increases fear responses during fear acquisition. After controlling for age and trauma exposure, fear-potentiated startle to the safety cue predicted child anxiety levels suggesting that impaired safety signal learning may be a risk factor for anxiety disorders in adulthood. Identifying risk phenotypes in children may provide opportunities for early intervention and prevention of illness.

Copyright information:

© 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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