The effect of massive extinction trials on the recovery of human fear conditioning
Given the mixed results in literature and the lack of human studies, a fear conditioning paradigm was used to evaluate whether the use of massive or moderate extinction trials have a differential effect on the recovery of extinguished fear, when assessed outside of the extinction context (an ABC renewal design), and after a delay (spontaneous recovery). 32 college students were randomly assigned to massive (80 conditioned stimulus presentations) and moderate extinction (10 conditioned stimulus presentations) groups. Results showed that massive extinction produced a significantly lower spontaneous recovery than moderate extinction, but that effect decreased when tested outside of the extinction context (renewal). These results question the applicability of this technique in the therapeutic context.