Neural Activity Associated with Monitoring the Oscillating Threat Value of a Tarantula

Mobbs, D., Yu, R., Rowe, J., Eich, H., FeldmanHall, O., Dalgleish, T. (2010). Neural Activity Associated with Monitoring the Oscillating Threat Value of a Phylogenetic Stimulus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107:20582-20586.

5 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2017

See all articles by Dean Mobbs

Dean Mobbs

Columbia University

Rongjun Yu

University of Cambridge

James Rowe

University of Cambridge - MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

Oriel FeldmanHall

Brown University Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences

Tim Dalgleish

Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Medical Research Council

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

Phylogenetic threats such as spiders evoke our deepest primitive fears. When close or looming, such threats engage evolutionarily conserved monitoring systems and defense reactions that promote self-preservation. With the use of a modified behavioral approach task within functional MRI, we show that, as a tarantula was placed closer to a subject’s foot, increased experiences of fear coincided with augmented activity in a cascade of fear-related brain networks including the periaqueductal gray, amygdala, and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Activity in the amygdala was also associated with underprediction of the tarantula’s threat value and, in addition to the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, with monitoring the tarantula’s threat value as indexed by its direction of movement. Conversely, the orbitofrontal cortex was engaged as the tarantula grew more distant, suggesting that this region emits safety signals or expels fear. Our findings fractionate the neurobiological mechanisms associated with basic fear and potentially illuminate the perturbed reactions that characterize clinical phobias.

Suggested Citation

Mobbs, Dean and Yu, Rongjun and Rowe, James and FeldmanHall, Oriel and Dalgleish, Tim, Neural Activity Associated with Monitoring the Oscillating Threat Value of a Tarantula (2010). Mobbs, D., Yu, R., Rowe, J., Eich, H., FeldmanHall, O., Dalgleish, T. (2010). Neural Activity Associated with Monitoring the Oscillating Threat Value of a Phylogenetic Stimulus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107:20582-20586., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2896842

Dean Mobbs (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Rongjun Yu

University of Cambridge ( email )

Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.rongjunyu.com

James Rowe

University of Cambridge - MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit ( email )

15 Chaucer Road
Cambridge, CB2 7EF
United Kingdom

Oriel FeldmanHall

Brown University Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences ( email )

190 Thayer St.
Providence, RI 02912
United States

Tim Dalgleish

Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Medical Research Council ( email )

15 Chaucer Road
Cambridge, CB2 7EF
United Kingdom

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