Psychotherapy and Neuroscience

Inhibiting Fear & Stress

There are two ways of inhibiting responses of increased acute autonomic arousal and fear, extinguishing them or suppressing them (Cammarota, Barros, Vianna, Bevilaqua, Coitinho, Szapiro et al., 2004). Both are linked with two different processes. Extinction is linked with the concluding of conditioning processes allowing expression of another type of learning about a previous fear inducing CS (Brooks & Bouton, 1993; Pavlov, 1927). Suppression is linked with forgetting and incomplete processing of fear-related material. These processes will be elaborated on and differentiated in subsequent sections.


Brooks, D.C., & Bouton, M.E. (1993). A retrieval cue for extinction attenuates spontaneous recovery. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal and Behavior Processes, 19(1), 77-89.

Cammarota, M., Barros, D.M., Vianna, M.R., Bevilaqua, L.R., Coitinho, A., Szapiro, G., Izquierdo, L., Medina, J.H., & Izquierdo, I. (2004). The transition from memory retrieval to extinction. Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, 76(3), 573-582.

Pavlov, I.P. (1927). Conditioned Reflexes. (Translated by G.V. Anrep) Cambridge: Oxford University Press (Lectures 2, 4, & 5).