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Hippocampal representation of threat features and behavior in a human approach-avoidance conflict anxiety task

Abivardi, A; Khemka, S; Bach, DR; (2020) Hippocampal representation of threat features and behavior in a human approach-avoidance conflict anxiety task. The Journal of Neuroscience 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2732-19.2020. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Decisions under threat are crucial to survival and require integration of distinct situational features such as threat probability and magnitude. Recent evidence from human lesion and neuroimaging studies implicated anterior hippocampus (aHC) and amygdala in approach/avoidance decisions under threat, and linked their integrity to cautious behavior. Here we sought to elucidate how threat dimensions and behavior are represented in these structures. Twenty human participants (11 female) completed an approach-avoidance conflict task during high-resolution functional MRI. Participants could gather tokens under threat of capture by a virtual predator, which would lead to token loss. Threat probability (predator wake-up rate) and magnitude (amount of token loss) varied on each trial. To disentangle effects of threat features, and ensuing behavior, we performed a multifold parametric analysis. We found that high threat probability and magnitude related to BOLD signal in left anterior hippocampus/entorhinal cortex. However BOLD signal in this region was better explained by avoidance behavior than by these threat features. A priori region-of-interest analysis confirmed the relation of anterior hippocampus BOLD response with avoidance. Exploratory subfield analysis revealed that this relation was specific to anterior CA2/3 but not CA1. Left lateral amygdala responded to low and high, but not intermediate threat probability. Our results suggest that anterior hippocampus BOLD signal is better explained by avoidance behavior than by threat features in approach-avoidance conflict. Rather than representing threat features in a monotonic manner, it appears that anterior hippocampus may compute approach/avoidance decisions based on integration of situational threat features represented in other neural structures.

Type: Article
Title: Hippocampal representation of threat features and behavior in a human approach-avoidance conflict anxiety task
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2732-19.2020
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2732-19.2020
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2020 Abivardi et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.
UCL classification: UCL
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/10106864
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