The role of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) in human pavlovian threat conditioning has been relegated largely to the extinction or reversal of previously acquired stimulus-outcome associations. However, recent neuroimaging evidence questions this view by also showing activity in the vmPFC during threat acquisition. Here we investigate the casual role of vmPFC in the acquisition of pavlovian threat conditioning by assessing skin conductance response (SCR) and declarative memory of stimulus-outcome contingencies during a differential pavlovian threat-conditioning paradigm in eight patients with a bilateral vmPFC lesion, 10 with a lesion outside PFC and 10 healthy participants (each group included both females and males). Results showed that patients with vmPFC lesion failed to produce a conditioned SCR during threat acquisition, despite no evidence of compromised SCR to unconditioned stimulus or compromised declarative memory for stimulus-outcome contingencies. These results suggest that the vmPFC plays a causal role in the acquisition of new learning and not just in the extinction or reversal of previously acquired learning, as previously thought. Given the role of the vmPFC in schema-related processing and latent structure learning, the vmPFC may be required to construct a detailed representation of the task, which is needed to produce a sustained conditioned physiological response in anticipation of the unconditioned stimulus during threat acquisition.

Revaluing the role of vmPFC in the acquisition of pavlovian threat conditioning in humans

Battaglia S.;Garofalo S.;di Pellegrino G.
;
Starita F.
2020

Abstract

The role of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) in human pavlovian threat conditioning has been relegated largely to the extinction or reversal of previously acquired stimulus-outcome associations. However, recent neuroimaging evidence questions this view by also showing activity in the vmPFC during threat acquisition. Here we investigate the casual role of vmPFC in the acquisition of pavlovian threat conditioning by assessing skin conductance response (SCR) and declarative memory of stimulus-outcome contingencies during a differential pavlovian threat-conditioning paradigm in eight patients with a bilateral vmPFC lesion, 10 with a lesion outside PFC and 10 healthy participants (each group included both females and males). Results showed that patients with vmPFC lesion failed to produce a conditioned SCR during threat acquisition, despite no evidence of compromised SCR to unconditioned stimulus or compromised declarative memory for stimulus-outcome contingencies. These results suggest that the vmPFC plays a causal role in the acquisition of new learning and not just in the extinction or reversal of previously acquired learning, as previously thought. Given the role of the vmPFC in schema-related processing and latent structure learning, the vmPFC may be required to construct a detailed representation of the task, which is needed to produce a sustained conditioned physiological response in anticipation of the unconditioned stimulus during threat acquisition.
Battaglia S.; Garofalo S.; di Pellegrino G.; Starita F.
File in questo prodotto:
Eventuali allegati, non sono esposti

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/788008
 Attenzione

Attenzione! I dati visualizzati non sono stati sottoposti a validazione da parte dell'ateneo

Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 47
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 42
social impact