Fighting fear generalization with exercise

  • English language proficiency required
  • Amsterdam

University of Amsterdam

Fear generalization lies at the core of a multitude of affective disorders, such as phobias and PTSD. Despite a great need to better understand the mechanisms underlying fear generalization and ways to prevent or treat it, strategies that can successfully impair the generalization of fear remain largely elusive. Physical exercise – by stimulating neurogenesis – may directly impact the retrieval of fearful events that are stored as populations of neurons in the dentate gyrus, a subregion of the hippocampus. It is widely accepted that exercise has general positive effects on physical health and mental well-being, but a disadvantage is that this is only for as long as the exercise is being practiced. In the present project, we study exercise as a tool to target the neurobiological roots of memory circuits from where dysfunctional fear generalization is thought to originate. Thus, in contrast to the short-term health benefits of general exercise, a well-timed and brief exercise-intervention, could lead to effects that are lasting.

We are looking for motivated students with a background in neuroscience and/or psychology who can help with data collection, as part of a research internship. Are you interested? Do you have questions? Please contact Wouter Cox ( or Vanessa van Ast (

Start date: September 2022 onwards
Duration: At least approximately 5 months

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