PTSD is a debilitating psychiatric condition precipitated by exposure to extreme, or life
threatening, trauma with an estimated lifetime prevalence between 8% and 9% in U.S. adults.
One core symptom of PTSD is intense psychological distress in the presence of stimuli that
"resemble" one or more aspects of the trauma experience (DSM-IV). This phenomenon referred to
as stimulus generalization has received surprisingly little empirical testing in the context
of clinical anxiety in general, and PTSD more specifically. The current proposal represents
the first effort to study the neurobiology and pharmacology of this PTSD-relevant learning
phenomenon across those with and without PTSD. The objective of this particular proposal is
to apply fMRI and pharmacologic methods to: 1) identify brain mechanisms associated with
generalization of conditioned fear and 2) examine the pharmacologic modifiability of levels
of generalization using a partial agonist at the NMDA receptor complex (D-cycloserine) shown
to increase discrimination of CS+ (danger cue) and CS- (safety cue) in animal studies.