Extinction of fear is facilitated by social presence: Synergism with prefrontal oxytocin

Naama Brill-Maoz, Mouna Maroun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study addressed the question of whether extinction in pairs would have a beneficial effect on extinction of fear conditioning. To that end, we established an experimental setting for extinction in which we trained animals to extinguish contextual fear memory in pairs.Taking advantage of the role of oxytocin (OT) in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in the mediation of memory extinction and social interaction, we also sought to study its role in social interaction-induced effects on extinction. Our results clearly show that the social presence of another animal in the extinction context facilitates extinction, and that this facilitation is mediated through mPFC-OT. Our results suggest that social interaction may be a positive regulator of fear inhibition, implying that social interaction may be an easy, accessible therapeutic tool for the treatment of fear-associated disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-81
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported from a grant of the Israel Science Foundation to M.M.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by ISF grant to MM (663/13). We are grateful to Dr. M. Manning, University of Toledo, Ohio for his generous gift of the oxytocin receptor antagonist.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016.


  • Extinction
  • Oxytocin
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Rats
  • Social behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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