Activation of the left amygdala to a cognitive representation of fear

Elizabeth A. Phelps, Kevin J. O'Connor, J. Christopher Gatenby, John C. Gore, Christian Grillon, Michael Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We examined the neural substrates involved when subjects encountered an event linked verbally, but not experientially, to an aversive outcome. This instructed fear task models a primary way humans learn about the emotional nature of events. Subjects were told that one stimulus (threat) represents an aversive event (a shock may be given), whereas another (safe) represents safety (no shock will be given). Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), activation of the left amygdala was observed in response to threat versus safe conditions, which correlated with the expression of the fear response as measured by skin conductance. Additional activation observed in the insular cortex is proposed to be involved in conveying a cortical representation of fear to the amygdala. These results suggest that the neural substrates that support conditioned fear across species have a similar but somewhat different role in more abstract representations of fear in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-441
Number of pages5
JournalNature Neuroscience
Volume4
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

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Amygdala
Fear
Shock
Cerebral Cortex
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Safety
Skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Phelps, E. A., O'Connor, K. J., Gatenby, J. C., Gore, J. C., Grillon, C., & Davis, M. (2001). Activation of the left amygdala to a cognitive representation of fear. Nature Neuroscience, 4(4), 437-441. https://doi.org/10.1038/86110

Activation of the left amygdala to a cognitive representation of fear. / Phelps, Elizabeth A.; O'Connor, Kevin J.; Gatenby, J. Christopher; Gore, John C.; Grillon, Christian; Davis, Michael.

In: Nature Neuroscience, Vol. 4, No. 4, 2001, p. 437-441.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Phelps, EA, O'Connor, KJ, Gatenby, JC, Gore, JC, Grillon, C & Davis, M 2001, 'Activation of the left amygdala to a cognitive representation of fear', Nature Neuroscience, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 437-441. https://doi.org/10.1038/86110
Phelps, Elizabeth A. ; O'Connor, Kevin J. ; Gatenby, J. Christopher ; Gore, John C. ; Grillon, Christian ; Davis, Michael. / Activation of the left amygdala to a cognitive representation of fear. In: Nature Neuroscience. 2001 ; Vol. 4, No. 4. pp. 437-441.
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