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Distinct Processing of Aversive Experience in Amygdala Subregions

Michely, J; Rigoli, F; Rutledge, RB; Hauser, TU; Dolan, RJ; (2019) Distinct Processing of Aversive Experience in Amygdala Subregions. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging 10.1016/j.bpsc.2019.07.008. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The amygdala is an anatomically complex medial temporal brain structure whose subregions are considered to serve distinct functions. However, their precise role in mediating human aversive experience remains ill understood. METHODS: We used functional magnetic resonance imaging in 39 healthy volunteers with varying levels of trait anxiety to assess distinct contributions of the basolateral amygdala (BLA) and centromedial amygdala to anticipation and experience of aversive events. Additionally, we examined the relationship between any identified functional subspecialization and measures of subjective reported aversion and trait anxiety. RESULTS: Our results show that the centromedial amygdala is responsive to aversive outcomes but insensitive to predictive aversive cues. In contrast, the BLA encodes an aversive prediction error that quantifies whether cues and outcomes are worse than expected. A neural representation within the BLA for distinct threat levels was mirrored in self-reported subjective anxiety across individuals. Furthermore, high trait-anxious individuals were characterized by indiscriminately heightened BLA activity in response to aversive cues, regardless of actual threat level. CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrate that amygdala subregions are distinctly engaged in processing of aversive experience, with elevated and undifferentiated BLA responses to threat emerging as a potential neurobiological mediator of vulnerability to anxiety disorders.

Type: Article
Title: Distinct Processing of Aversive Experience in Amygdala Subregions
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.bpsc.2019.07.008
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpsc.2019.07.008
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2019 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Anxiety, Basolateral amygdala, Centromedial amygdala, Emotional processing, Threat, fMRI
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10082499
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