DOI: 10.1101/514505Jan 9, 2019Paper

The role of hippocampal spatial representations in contextualization and generalization of fear

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Lycia D. de VoogdErno J Hermans


Using contextual information to predict aversive events is a critical ability that protects from generalizing fear responses to safe contexts. Animal models have demonstrated the importance of spatial context representations within the hippocampal formation in contextualization of fear learning. The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) is known to play an important role in safety learning, possibly also through the incorporation of context information. However, if contextual representations are related to context-dependent expression of fear memory in humans remains unclear. Twenty-one healthy participants underwent functional MRI combined with a cue-context conditioning paradigm within a self-navigated virtual reality environment. The environment included two buildings (Threat and Safe context), which had distinct features outside but were identical inside. Within each context, participants saw two cues (CS+, CS-). The CS+ was consistently (100% reinforcement rate) paired with an electric shock in the Threat context, but never in the Safe context. The CS- was never paired with a shock. We found robust differential skin conductance responses (SCRs; CS+ > CS-) in the Threat context, but also within the Safe context, indicating...Continue Reading

Related Concepts

Extinction, Psychological
Fear (Mental Process)
Galvanic Skin Response
Hippocampus (Brain)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Spatial Distribution

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