Distinct Activity Patterns of the Human Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis and Amygdala during Fear Learning
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The amygdala and, more recently, also the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, have been widely implicated in fear and anxiety. Much of our current knowledge is derived from animal studies and suggests an intricate convergence and divergence in functions related to defensive responding. In a recent paper, Klumpers and colleagues set out to examine these functions in a human fear learning procedure using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Their main findings were a role for the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis in threat anticipation, and for the amygdala in threat confrontation. Here, we provide a critical summary of this interesting study and point out some important issues that were not addressed by its authors. In particular, we first take a closer look at the striking differences between both samples that were combined for the study, and, secondly, we provide an in-depth discussion of their findings in relation to existing neurobehavioral models.
KeywordsBed nucleus of the stria terminalis Amygdala Fear learning fMRI Human Defensive responses
We acknowledge the financial support of the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) (Research Projects G0C9817N and G088216 N), the National Institute of Mental Health (F31MH107113), as well as the European Research Council (CoG 64817). We thank Prof. Bram Vervliet and our colleagues at the KU Leuven Psychology Department for the helpful discussions during the preparation of this manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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