Escape From Fear: A Detailed Behavioral Analysis of Two Atypical Responses Reinforced by CS Termination

Christopher K. Cain, Joseph E. LeDoux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Escape from fear (EFF) is a controversial paradigm according to which animals learn to actively escape a fear-eliciting conditioned stimulus (CS) if the escape response (R e) is paired with CS termination. Some theories posit that EFF learning is responsible for instrumental avoidance conditioning. However, EFF learning has typically been weaker than avoidance learning and difficult to reproduce. The authors examined EFF learning and memory with 2 atypical R es: rearing and nose-poking. The data suggest that rearing, but not nose-poking, can be learned as an instrumental EFF response. Further, EFF memory was response specific, aversively motivated, and controlled by the CS. Successful EFF learning also resulted in better long-term elimination of a passive fear reaction (freezing). Factors important for EFF experiments and theoretical considerations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-463
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007



  • conditioning
  • escape from fear
  • freezing
  • instrumental
  • rearing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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