Amygdala involvement in human avoidance, escape and approach behavior Page: 7
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Schlund and Cataldo Page 7
2008;). It may also reflect greater differential control by the CS-NoUS relation or a broader
reduction in the motivational salience of cues resulting from extensive experience. On the other
hand, the heightened activation observed in other subjects suggests for some individuals threat
Z related responses may be maintained even when aversive events are consistently avoided,
perhaps suggesting extended control by the original CS-US relation. While the individual
difference variable(s) that contribute to a sustained threat response remain unclear, our findings
linking amygdala responses with avoidance are consistent with a range of clinical and basic
research findings highlighting heightened behavioral and neurophysiological responses during
0 avoidance (Eifert and Heffner, 2003; Mobbs et al., 2009; Rose et al., 1995; Solomon et al.,
1980) and inefficiencies associated with avoidance in emotional regulation (Campbell-Sills et
al., 2006; Cioffi and Holloway, 1993; Feldner et al., 2006: Spira et al., 2004).
The present investigation also demonstrates how human neuroimaging research on avoidance
may advance by adopting instrumental avoidance paradigms developed and employed in
nonhuman research. Stable and accurate avoidance and escape motivated behaviors were
generated and sustained during neuroimaging using negative reinforcement processes that are
findings that demonstrate money loss can be successfully employed as a noninvasive aversive
stimulus to shape and maintain avoidance and escape behaviors during neuroimaging in adults
(see also Kim et al., 2006) and children (Schlund et al., 2010). The approach used illustrates
one available pathway for overcoming some of the noted obstacles associated with generating
Convincing demonstrations of avoidance-escape in humans (Grillon et al., 2006). It also may
serve as a point of departure for assessing the effects of unique human abilities and
circumstances on the basic neurocircuitry supporting avoidance. For example, humans are
capable of abstract and symbolic thought as well as prepositional analysis of conditioning
experiences (e.g., Lovibond and Shanks 2002) that may modulate regional activation. Many
p forms of human avoidance-escape coping also involve experiential avoidance, in which
"- aversive events are negative thoughts or emotions (Hayes et al., 1996). Other forms of
avoidance-escape are also socially mediated, acquired not through direct experience with
aversive events but rather through observational learning or instructions. Finally, there are
Forms of derived avoidance that are prompted by stimuli that become threatening through
relational learning processes (Dymond and Roche, 2009).
Future neuroimaging research on adaptive and maladaptive forms of human avoidance faces
a number of limitations and challenges. One of the most difficult questions to address because
of the limited spatial resolution of fMRI relates to the function of the various amygdala nuclei.
Progress in understanding the functional contributions of different amygdala nuclei in adaptive
and maladaptive human avoidance may be more likely to emerge from nonhuman and human
lesion studies. However, one recently developed nonhuman neurophysiological model of
- avoidance that may help frame future human avoidance research is the Escape-From-Fear
(EFF) model. The model adopts a two-factor theoretical framework and proposes that the
basolateral amygdala (BLA) aids in establishing cues as threats (i.e., fear-conditioning) and
the striatum functions in modulating instrumental avoidance behavior (Cain and LeDoux,
S2008). We recently reported evidence that was consistent with the model (Schlund et al.,
O 2010) along with results implicating roles for the anterior cingulate and insula. Understanding
-how different neuroimaging approaches modulate basic learning processes supporting
Avoidance is another challenge. For example, our avoidance contingency enabled subjects to
Avoid money loss on every trial, which models central features of chronic avoidance-coping
) ~strategies present in many forms of psychopathology. In contrast, several prior human
- neuroimaging studies have used a partial avoidance contingency in which the avoidance
response periodically does not prevent contact with the aversive stimulus/outcome (Jensen et
al, 2003; Kim et al., 2006; Mobbs et al., 2009). The form of the avoidance contingency and
Subsequent beliefs about the utility of an avoidance behavior are likely to be major factors that
Neuroimage. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2011 November 1.
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Schlund, Michael W. & Cataldo, Michael F. Amygdala involvement in human avoidance, escape and approach behavior, article, November 1, 2010; [Amsterdam, Netherlands]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc77178/m1/7/: accessed February 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Public Affairs and Community Service.