Project B01: Finding the good in the bad: fear extinction reconceptualized as an appetitive learning process

Principal Investigators

Sevil Duvarci, Ph.D.

Group Leader

Prof. Dr. Raffael Kalisch

Professor and Director of Neuroimaging Center Mainz (NIC)

Project Team

Ximena Icaria Salinas Hernandez, PhD student
Dr. Anita Schick, Scientist
Martina Thiele, PhD student
Dr. Kenneth S.L. Yuen, Postdoc

Our Research

The project investigates whether extinction can be understood as a prediction error-based reward learning process where the positive experience that an expected threat (e.g., a shock) does not occur (the extinction prediction error) is mediated by phasic dopamine release from mesoaccumbal neurons. Phasic optogenetic activation and inhibition of dopamine neuron activity at the time of threat ommission in mice are complemented by systemic pharmacological manipulations in combination with computational modeling of behavioral and fMRI data in humans.


Haaker J, Lonsdorf TB, Schümann D, Bunzeck N, Peters J, Sommer T, Kalisch R (2017) Where There is Smoke There is Fear-Impaired Contextual Inhibition of Conditioned Fear in Smokers. Neuropsychopharmacology 42(8):1640-1646.

>> Link to PubMed

Kalisch R, Baker DG, Basten U, Boks MP, Bonanno GA, Brummelman E, Chmitorz A, Fernàndez G, Fiebach CJ, Galatzer-Levy I, Geuze E, Groppa S, Helmreich I, Hendler T, Hermans EJ, Jovanovic T, Kubiak T, Lieb K, Lutz B, Müller MB, Murray RJ, Nievergelt CM, Reif A, Roelofs K, Rutten BPF, Sander D, Schick A, Tüscher O, Van Diest I, van Harmelen A-L, Veer IM, Vermetten E, Vinkers CH, Wager TD, Walter H, Wessa M, Wibral M, Kleim B (2017) The resilience framework as a strategy to combat stress-related disorders. Nat Hum Behav 1:784-90.

>> Link to PubMed