ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (9): 1579-1587.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2015.01579

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Neural Mechanisms Underlying the Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Fear Processing

FENG Pan; ZHENG Yong   

  1. (Faculty of Psychological Science, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China)
  • Online:2015-09-15 Published:2015-09-15
  • Contact: ZHENG Yong, E-mail:


Processing of a fear memory can be divided into four distinct phases: acquisition, consolidation, reconsolidation, and extinction. Sleep deprivation has been shown to impair the process of fear acquisition as it affects activity of the amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex, as well as the functional connectivity between them. Sleep deprivation also weakens fear memory consolidation by interfering with activities of the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex, as well as the functional connectivity among them. In addition, sleep deprivation can attenuate fear memory reconsolidation, not only by impairing the synthesis of proteins and enzymes closely related to memory consolidation, but also by affecting activity in the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Finally, sleep deprivation can impair extinction of a fear memory as it can alter activity patterns of the hippocampus and amygdala. Future studies should focus on the cognitive neural mechanisms underlying the impact of sleep deprivation on processing of a fear memory as well as the relationship between sleep deprivation and fear-related disorders.