Neural signatures of human fear conditioning: an updated and extended meta-analysis of fMRI studies

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Publication Details

Author list: Soriano-Mas C
Publisher: Springer Nature [academic journals on]: Hybrid Journals
Publication year: 2016
Journal: Molecular Psychiatry (1359-4184)
Volume number: 21
Issue number: 4
Start page: 500
End page: 508
Number of pages: 9
ISSN: 1359-4184
eISSN: 1476-5578
Languages: English-Great Britain (EN-GB)


Classical Pavlovian fear conditioning remains the most widely employed
experimental model of fear and anxiety, and continues to inform
contemporary pathophysiological accounts of clinical anxiety disorders.
Despite its widespread application in human and animal studies, the
neurobiological basis of fear conditioning remains only partially
understood. Here we provide a comprehensive meta-analysis of human
fear-conditioning studies carried out with functional magnetic resonance
imaging (fMRI), yielding a pooled sample of 677 participants from 27
independent studies. As a distinguishing feature of this meta-analysis,
original statistical brain maps were obtained from the authors of 13 of
these studies. Our primary analyses demonstrate that human fear
conditioning is associated with a consistent and robust pattern of
neural activation across a hypothesized genuine network of brain regions
resembling existing anatomical descriptions of the 'central
autonomic-interoceptive network'. This finding is discussed with a
particular emphasis on the neural substrates of conscious fear
processing. Our associated meta-analysis of functional deactivations-a
scarcely addressed dynamic in fMRI fear-conditioning studies-also
suggests the existence of a coordinated brain response potentially
underlying the 'safety signal' (that is, non-threat) processing. We
attempt to provide an integrated summary on these findings with the view
that they may inform ongoing studies of fear-conditioning processes
both in healthy and clinical populations, as investigated with
neuroimaging and other experimental approaches.


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Last updated on 2019-13-08 at 00:45