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Active avoidance and attentive freezing in the face of approaching threat

  • Defensive behaviors in animals and humans vary dynamically with increasing proximity of a threat and depending upon the behavioral repertoire at hand. The current study investigated physiological and behavioral adjustments and associated brain activation when participants were exposed to dynamically approaching threat that was either inevitable or could be avoided by motor action. When the approaching threat was inevitable, attentive freezing was observed as indicated by fear bradycardia, startle potentiation, and a dynamic increase in activation of the anterior insula and the periaqueductal grey. In preparation for active avoidance a switch in defensive behavior was observed characterized by startle inhibition and heart rate acceleration along with potentiated activation of the amygdala and the periaqueductal grey. Importantly, the modulation of defensive behavior according to threat imminence and the behavioral option at hand was associated with activity changes in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. These findings improve ourDefensive behaviors in animals and humans vary dynamically with increasing proximity of a threat and depending upon the behavioral repertoire at hand. The current study investigated physiological and behavioral adjustments and associated brain activation when participants were exposed to dynamically approaching threat that was either inevitable or could be avoided by motor action. When the approaching threat was inevitable, attentive freezing was observed as indicated by fear bradycardia, startle potentiation, and a dynamic increase in activation of the anterior insula and the periaqueductal grey. In preparation for active avoidance a switch in defensive behavior was observed characterized by startle inhibition and heart rate acceleration along with potentiated activation of the amygdala and the periaqueductal grey. Importantly, the modulation of defensive behavior according to threat imminence and the behavioral option at hand was associated with activity changes in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. These findings improve our understanding of brain mechanisms guiding human behavior during approaching threat depending on available resources.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Julia Wendt, Andreas Loew, Mathias Weymar, Martin Lotze, Alfons O. Hamm
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.06.054
ISSN:1053-8119
ISSN:1095-9572
Pubmed Id:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=28669911
Parent Title (English):NeuroImage : a journal of brain function
Publisher:Elsevier
Place of publication:San Diego
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2017
Year of Completion:2017
Release Date:2020/04/20
Tag:Active avoidance; Defensive response patterns; Freezing; Psychophysiology; fMRI
Volume:158
Pagenumber:9
First Page:196
Last Page:204
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Psychologie
Peer Review:Referiert