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A discriminated conditioned punishment model of phobia

Authors Bloom CM, Post RJ, Mazick J, Blumenthal B, Doyle C, Peters B, Dyche J, Davenport DG

Received 14 June 2013

Accepted for publication 16 July 2013

Published 21 August 2013 Volume 2013:9 Pages 1239—1248


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Christopher M Bloom,1 Ryan J Post,1 Joshua Mazick,1 Brittany Blumenthal,1 Caroline Doyle,1 Brenna Peters,1 Jeff Dyche,2 D Gene Davenport3

1Providence College, Providence, RI, USA; 2James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, USA; 3Saint Louis University, St Louis, MO, USA

Abstract: Traditionally, the signaled avoidance (SA) paradigm has been used in an attempt to better understand human phobia. Animal models of this type have been criticized for ineffectively representing phobia. The SA model characterizes phobia as an avoidance behavior by presenting environmental cues, which act as warning signals to an aversive stimulus (ie, shock). Discriminated conditioned punishment (DCP) is an alternative paradigm that characterizes phobia as a choice behavior in which fear serves to punish an otherwise adaptive behavior. The present study quantifies the differences between the paradigms and suggests that DCP offers an alternative paradigm for phobia. Rats trained on either SA or DCP were compared on a number of behavioral variables relevant to human phobia. Results indicate that rats in the DCP paradigm responded significantly earlier to warning signals and were more effective at preventing shocks than rats in the SA paradigm. Implications of this alternative paradigm are discussed.

Keywords: animal models, avoidance, fear conditioning, anxiety disorders

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