Fear is an emotion that serves as a driving factor in how organisms move through the world. In this review, we discuss the current understandings of the subjective experience of fear and the related biological processes involved in fear learning and memory. We first provide an overview of fear learning and memory in humans and animal models, encompassing the neurocircuitry and molecular mechanisms, the influence of genetic and environmental factors, and how fear learning paradigms have contributed to treatments for fear-related disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder. Current treatments as well as novel strategies, such as targeting the perisynaptic environment and use of virtual reality, are addressed. We review research on the subjective experience of fear and the role of autobiographical memory in fear-related disorders. We also discuss the gaps in our understanding of fear learning and memory, and the degree of consensus in the field. Lastly, the development of linguistic tools for assessments and treatment of fear learning and memory disorders is discussed.
Year of publication
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews