Pavlovian conditioned diminution of the neurobehavioral response to threat

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Abstract

An important function of emotion is that it motivates us to respond more effectively to threats in our environment. Accordingly, healthy emotional function depends on the ability to appropriately avoid, escape, or defend against threats we encounter. Thus, from a functional perspective, it is important to understand the emotional response to threat. However, prior work has largely focused on the emotional response in anticipation of threat, rather than the emotional response to the threat itself. The current review is focused on recent behavioral, psychophysiological, and neural findings from Pavlovian conditioning research that is centered on the expression and regulation of the emotional response to threat. The current evidence suggests that a neural network that includes the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala underlies learning, expression, and regulation processes that modulate emotional responses to threat. This line of research has important implications for our understanding of emotion regulation and stress resilience.

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