Research Topic

Modulation of Behavioral Outcomes by Conditioning Competing States, Valences, or Responses

About this Research Topic

In Associative conditioning, either a behavior or a neutral stimulus occur close together in time with some outcome such that future re-exposure to that stimulus is met with either an involuntary response or instrumental behavior, respectively. Although many studies have focused on the formation of new ...

In Associative conditioning, either a behavior or a neutral stimulus occur close together in time with some outcome such that future re-exposure to that stimulus is met with either an involuntary response or instrumental behavior, respectively. Although many studies have focused on the formation of new associations, recent and previous work interested in the pairing of opposing response or motivational circuits have renewed interest. Early examples of this antagonistic response conditioning featured US-US pairings with competing motivational states (e.g., food-shock pairing so post-conditioning, the response would be salivation to shock). More recent studies examining association of opposing responses, contrasting emotional valences or counter motivational states have begun to elucidate how learning and memory are encoded in the brain, with an eye towards translational clinical therapies for trauma or addiction.

This article collection will expand our understanding of how learning occurs between previously established and opposing circuits by highlighting recent findings and advances. The goal is to demonstrate some commonalities between different experimental approaches in investigating association of opposing circuits. For instance, do some forms of antagonistic response pairing produce more of an alpha conditioning, in that one of the responses is weakened, while the other is strengthened. Or is it more common that some form of beta conditioning is seen, where there is an emergence of a new response that results from pairing? Further, when opposing circuits are activated sequentially in conditioning, does this reverse the previous learned experience, or produce an intermediate condition that is different? With recent work demonstrating learning-induced alterations in gene expression via epigenetic mechanisms, this infers the possibility that learning circuits somehow have a form of identity based on experience. This leaves open the possibility that plasticity itself may be nuanced depending on the previous experience coded within the circuit. By understanding more about how these forms of plasticity or conditions for neural change occur, this will inform both future research into learning and neuroplasticity, as well as provide insights into clinical approaches that rely on a behavioral or learning component.

This Research Topic will comprise several different article types in order to stimulate discussion and to bring together work from across disciplines on the topic of oppositional conditioning. Article types including: Original Research, Review, Mini-Review, Hypothesis-and-Theory, Perspective, Clinical Trial, Case Report and Opinion articles will be considered for the following topics (or a related topic):

• Combination of reward and fear learning, counter-conditioning or associations of opposing behavioral responses.
• Behavioral and mechanistic investigations of behavioral flexibility.
• Calcium imaging of competing or opposing response circuits.
• Clinical studies of counter-conditioning or antagonism of fear responses.
• Computational modelling of multiple or counter-response conditioning.


Keywords: Parallel Memory, Competition, Opposition, Antagonistic Responses, Neural Circuits


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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