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Waiting for an aversive event

 

 
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A study by Nitschke and colleagues now demonstrate the neural correlates to the expectation of an aversive event. Experiencing as well as anticipating an aversive event involves specific structures such as the amygdala, insula cingulate cortex, prefrontal cortex and orbitofrontal cortex. An additional network involving smaller parts of the anterior cingulate, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and […]

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Posted December 26, 2005 by thomasr

 
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A study by Nitschke and colleagues now demonstrate the neural correlates to the expectation of an aversive event. Experiencing as well as anticipating an aversive event involves specific structures such as the amygdala, insula cingulate cortex, prefrontal cortex and orbitofrontal cortex. An additional network involving smaller parts of the anterior cingulate, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and orbitofrontal cortex was involved in the anticipation of an aversive event.

Functional neuroanatomy of aversion and its anticipation

Jack B. Nitschke et al. in Neuroimage Volume 29, Issue 1 , 1 January 2006, Pages 106-116

Abstract

The capacity to anticipate aversive circumstances is central not only to successful adaptation but also to understanding the abnormalities that contribute to excessive worry and anxiety disorders. Forecasting and reacting to aversive events mobilize a host of affective and cognitive capacities and corresponding brain processes.

Rapid event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 21 healthy volunteers assessed the overlap and divergence in the neural instantiation of anticipating and being exposed to aversive pictures.

Brain areas jointly activated by the anticipation of and exposure to aversive pictures included the dorsal amygdala, anterior insula, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and right posterior orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Anticipatory processes were uniquely associated with activations in rostral ACC, a more superior sector of the right DLPFC, and more medial sectors of the bilateral OFC. Activation of the right DLPFC in anticipation of aversion was associated with self-reports of increased negative affect, whereas OFC activation was associated with increases in both positive and negative affect.

These results show that anticipation of aversion recruits key brain regions that respond to aversion, thereby potentially enhancing adaptive responses to aversive events.

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