Disruption of fear processing seems to be at the core of posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD). Indeed, mechanisms of fear conditioning, extinction and extinction recall have been found to be disrupted in PTSD patients. We have demonstrated that such deficits (especially fear extinction delay) disappear after EMDR therapy according to behavioral responses as well as psychophysiological measures (skin conductance, response, heart rate). In addition, using fMRI, we observed brain activities modification during fear condition and extinction in PTSD after EMDR as compared to before EMDR, in prefrontal and limbic structures notably.
Considering these results, we used the fear conditioning, extinction and recall paradigm to test for the specific effect of bilateral alternate stimulations (BAS) during extinction to mimic the EMDR therapy. In both healthy human subjects and mouse, fear extinction and/or extinction recall were facilitated in presence of BAS as compared to without BAS.
This paradigm could therefore constitute a valuable model to explore the EMDR mechanisms of action especially BAS effect not only in humans but also for the first time in animals.
After a Ph.D. in Neuropsychology in Lyon (France), I completed a post doctorate fellowship in Montreal (Canada), and finally had a position as a researcher in Marseille (France) in the CNRS. Currently I am the leader of the “Stress and Vulnerability” team in the La Timone Neuroscience Institute in Marseille. My research focuses on brain mechanisms of PTSD and the EMDR therapy.
I also obtained a Master in Psychology and have been accredited as an EMDR practitioner. I am currently working both as a brain researcher and as psychologist.