Professor Ottmar Lipp

Faculty of Health, QUT

Title: "Strengthening the extinction of human fear: How to prevent the return of fear?"


Fear and anxiety disorders are highly prevalent with 7% of the Australian population affected in 2019. The good news is that effective (psychological) treatments exist to address these. The bad news is that relapse of fear after successful treatment is common with rates between 10-60%. This is not unexpected given that Pavlovian learning processes are critical in the acquisition, maintenance, and reduction of human fear. Extinction, the process thought to mediate the reduction of human fear, does not alter the fear association acquired during initial learning, but adds a new association, which then competes with the fear association to determine behaviour. As this second learning is usually weaker than the initial learning, return of fear is likely. Using human fear conditioning paradigms, current work in our lab tests interventions aimed at strengthening the extinction of human fear, novelty facilitated extinction, the presentation of paired or unpaired unconditional stimuli and the presentation of stimuli resembling the conditional stimuli during extinction. This work translates insights from work in animal learning to human learning with the ultimate goal of informing the development of treatments that have a more lasting effect. 


About Neuroscience Seminars

Neuroscience seminars at the QBI play a major role in the advancement of neuroscience in the Asia-Pacific region. The primary goal of these seminars is to promote excellence in neuroscience through the exchange of ideas, establishing new collaborations and augmenting partnerships already in place.

Seminars in the QBI Auditorium on Level 7 are held on Wednesdays at 12-1pm, which are sometimes simulcast on Zoom (with approval from the speaker). We also occassionally hold seminars from international speakers via Zoom. The days and times of these seminars will vary depending on the time zone of the speaker. Please see each seminar listed below for details. 


Neuroscience Seminars archive 2005-2018