CUED Publications database

When fear is near: threat imminence elicits prefrontal-periaqueductal gray shifts in humans.

Mobbs, D and Petrovic, P and Marchant, JL and Hassabis, D and Weiskopf, N and Seymour, B and Dolan, RJ and Frith, CD (2007) When fear is near: threat imminence elicits prefrontal-periaqueductal gray shifts in humans. Science, 317. pp. 1079-1083.

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Abstract

Humans, like other animals, alter their behavior depending on whether a threat is close or distant. We investigated spatial imminence of threat by developing an active avoidance paradigm in which volunteers were pursued through a maze by a virtual predator endowed with an ability to chase, capture, and inflict pain. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we found that as the virtual predator grew closer, brain activity shifted from the ventromedial prefrontal cortex to the periaqueductal gray. This shift showed maximal expression when a high degree of pain was anticipated. Moreover, imminence-driven periaqueductal gray activity correlated with increased subjective degree of dread and decreased confidence of escape. Our findings cast light on the neural dynamics of threat anticipation and have implications for the neurobiology of human anxiety-related disorders.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anxiety Avoidance Learning Behavior Brain Mapping Escape Reaction Fear Gyrus Cinguli Humans Oxygen Pain Periaqueductal Gray Prefrontal Cortex
Subjects: UNSPECIFIED
Divisions: Div F > Computational and Biological Learning
Depositing User: Cron Job
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2014 11:23
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2014 17:45
DOI: 10.1126/science.1144298