Nothing to fear? Neural systems supporting avoidance behavior in healthy youths Page: 1
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- Neuroimage. 2010 August 15; 52(2): 710-719. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.04.244.
Nothing to fear? Neural systems supporting avoidance behavior
in healthy youths
cMichael W Schlund2,3,4, Greg J Sieglel12, Cecile D Ladouceur2, Jennifer S Silk1 2, Michael
u F Cataldo3,4, Erika E Forbes', Ronald E Dahl2, and Neal D Ryan2
-' 1 Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA, USA
2 Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh PA, USA
3 Department of Behavioral Psychology, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore MD, USA
4 Department of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore MD, USA
. Active avoidance involving controlling and modifying threatening situations characterizes many
Jo forms of clinical pathology, particularly childhood anxiety. Presently our understanding of the neural
systems supporting human avoidance is largely based on nonhuman research. Establishing the
D generality of nonhuman findings to healthy children is a needed first step towards advancing
developmental affective neuroscience research on avoidance in childhood anxiety. Accordingly, this
o investigation examined brain activation patterns to threatening cues that prompted avoidance in
healthy youths. During functional magnetic resonance imaging, fifteen youths (ages 9-13) completed
0a task that alternately required approach or avoidance behaviors. On each trial either a threatening
'- 'Snake' cue or a 'Reward' cue advanced towards a bank containing earned points. Directional buttons
O enabled subjects to move cues away from (Avoidance) or towards the bank (Approach). Avoidance
"0 cues elicited activation in regions hypothesized to support avoidance in nonhumans (amygdala,
insula, striatum and thalamus). Results also highlighted that avoidance response rates were positively
correlated with amygdala activation and negatively correlated with insula and anterior cingulate
activation. Moreover, increased amygdala activity was associated with decreased insula and anterior
cingulate activity. Our results suggest nonhuman neurophysiological research findings on avoidance
may generalize to neural systems associated with avoidance in childhood. Perhaps most importantly,
the amygdala/insula activation observed suggests threat related responses can be maintained even
Z when aversive events are consistently avoided, which may account for the persistence of avoidance-
I coping in childhood anxiety. The present approach may offer developmental affective neuroscience
To a conceptual and methodological framework for investigating avoidance in childhood anxiety.
threat; fear; avoidance; anxiety; amygdala; insula; children; Money amount per se is not driving MT
-@ Corresponding author: Michael W Schlund, Ph.D. Department of Behavioral Psychology, Kennedy Krieger Institute, 707 N Broadway,
Baltimore MD 21224. Schlund@KennedyKrieger.org, Tel: 443-923-2850.
Author contributions: Design: M.S., G.S. and M.C. Data collection: J.S., C.L., G.S., R.D. and N.R. Analysis: M.S. and G.S. Writing:
M.S., G.S., M.C., C.L., J.S., E. F., R.D. and N.R
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Schlund, Michael W.; Siegle, Greg J.; Ladouceur, Cecile D.; Silk, Jennifer S.; Cataldo, Michael F.; Forbes, Erika E. et al. Nothing to fear? Neural systems supporting avoidance behavior in healthy youths, article, August 15, 2010; [New York, New York]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc77177/m1/1/: accessed February 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service.