Inhibitory Learning and Exposure

Exposure therapy, or the repeated and systematic confrontation with a feared stimulus, is the gold standard treatment approach for anxiety- and threat-related disorders. The development of exposure therapy during the early part of the 20th century was closely tied to associative learning theory (i.e., Pavlovian conditioning), although with the rise of cognitive and information processing models, clinical psychology largely strayed away from advances in modern learning theory. However, recent advances in our understanding of fear learning across both animals and humans have prompted a return to a modern learning theory account of exposure therapy in an attempt to improve on the efficacy of exposure-based treatments.

In classical or Pavlovian conditioning, a neutral stimulus (conditional stimulus, or CS) comes to elicit a conditional response (CR) because ...

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