Clinical neuroscience studies have suggested that dysfunctional reactivity of the brain circuits mediating emotion may be a key factor in the etiology and maintenance of many psychiatric disorders. It is also well established that the sensory cortical response to emotional stimuli is an important part of a cascade of events - physiological, cognitive, and behavioral - that define emotional reactivity in humans. For instance, anxiety patients show visual responses that are both biased towards threat cues and lacking discriminative accuracy. Mechanistic knowledge is needed that addresses the question of how such perceptual biases towards threat features are acquired (and unlearned) in the human visual system. This has been difficult because reliable methods to quantify single trials of neural activity are not available at this time. In this multidisciplinary research project, we propose to use novel computational and experimental approaches to fill this gap.
We aim to objectively characterize and quantify - on a trial by trial basis - the temporal evolution of neura changes in the human visual system that accompany the acquisition and extinction of conditioned fear. An objective and reliable description of the time course of visual changes during fear learning will assist in ongoing efforts aiming to develop objective diagnostic categories of fear disorders, to understand and quantify effects of treatment, and to develop new forms of attention/perception trainings in the fear and anxiety disorders.

Public Health Relevance

Many psychiatric disorders are characterized by heightened attention and perception of threat-related visual information, and such perceptual biases are also seen in healthy observers facing a threatening visual stimulus. Using novel methods in biomedical engineering and neurophysiology, this multidisciplinary research project examines how healthy observers acquire perceptual biases during classical fear conditioning, and how these biases can be eliminated through extinction learning. Finding reliable and valid quantitative neural parameters of fear learning is important for the objective assessment of brain circuitry underlying anxiety disorders in humans, and it also has the potential of establishing neurofeedback treatments whose aim is to alter the functional neuroanatomy of fear.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IFCN-L (02))
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Rossi, Andrew
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University of Florida
Biomedical Engineering
Schools of Engineering
United States
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McTeague, Lisa M; Laplante, Marie-Claude; Bulls, Hailey W et al. (2018) Face Perception in Social Anxiety: Visuocortical Dynamics Reveal Propensities for Hypervigilance or Avoidance. Biol Psychiatry 83:618-628
Ji, Hong; Petro, Nathan M; Chen, Badong et al. (2018) Cross multivariate correlation coefficients as screening tool for analysis of concurrent EEG-fMRI recordings. J Neurosci Res 96:1159-1175
Thigpen, Nina N; Bradley, Margaret M; Keil, Andreas (2018) Assessing the relationship between pupil diameter and visuocortical activity. J Vis 18:7
Thigpen, Nina N; Keil, Andreas; Freund, Alexandra M (2018) Responding to emotional scenes: effects of response outcome and picture repetition on reaction times and the late positive potential. Cogn Emot 32:24-36
Yin, Siyang; Liu, Yuelu; Petro, Nathan M et al. (2018) Amygdala Adaptation and Temporal Dynamics of the Salience Network in Conditioned Fear: A Single-Trial fMRI Study. eNeuro 5:
Thigpen, Nina N; Gruss, L Forest; Garcia, Steven et al. (2018) What does the dot-probe task measure? A reverse correlation analysis of electrocortical activity. Psychophysiology 55:e13058
Guan, Yao; Farrar, M Jeffrey; Keil, Andreas (2018) Oscillatory brain activity differentially reflects false belief understanding and complementation syntax processing. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci 18:189-201
Schweiger Gallo, Inge; Fernández-Dols, José-Miguel; Gollwitzer, Peter M et al. (2017) Grima: A Distinct Emotion Concept? Front Psychol 8:131
Thigpen, Nina N; Kappenman, Emily S; Keil, Andreas (2017) Assessing the internal consistency of the event-related potential: An example analysis. Psychophysiology 54:123-138
Kappenman, Emily S; Keil, Andreas (2017) Introduction to the special issue on recentering science: Replication, robustness, and reproducibility in psychophysiology. Psychophysiology 54:3-5

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