Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Innate and Conditioned Fear: Investigating Responses to Threat using Psychophysiology, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and Twin Methodology
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Description
Abstract [en]

Evolution has shaped systems in the human brain to respond to danger. Some of these systems are innate or hard-wired, while others are learned throughout the entire life span. One commonly studied type of learned threat, conditioned fear, is acquired from experiencing aversive consequences. When considering innate threat, processing imminent and social threat may be especially relevant for understanding the neural circuitry of human fear. Imminent fear refers to experiencing proximal encounters whereas social fear refers to exposure to an unknown conspecific. Investigating whether different brain systems process innate and conditioned threat could provide us with knowledge on how defensive systems interact and inform on development and treatment of fear-related disorders. The first aim of this thesis was to investigate whether different brain systems process innate and conditioned threat. The second aim was to investigate if neural functions supporting imminent and social threat are heritable. In Study I, skin conductance responses (SCR) to social, imminent and conditioned threat displayed in immersive virtual-reality were compared. The results showed that social threat modulated imminent threat, but neither imminent nor social threat modulated conditioned threat, indicating that distinct processes regulate imminent and social threat on one end and conditioned threat on the other. Study II compared SCR to imminent and conditioned threat displayed either in an immersive virtual-reality head-mounted display or a regular computer monitor. The findings indicated that displaying stimuli in an immersive virtual-reality head-mounted display enhanced imminent threat responses as compared to displaying them on a regular computer monitor, suggesting a modulation of SCR by display type. Conditioned SCR was similar across displays. The conclusion of the study was that imminent threat and conditioned threat are different processes as it was possible to modulate one without affecting the other. Study III was a twin study comparing the genetic influence on neural responses to imminent and social threat using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and SCR. The results demonstrated strong genetic influence on responses in the lateral occipital cortex and the fusiform cortex to social threat whereas genetic influence on imminent threat was strong in early visual areas and occipito-parietal areas. In summary, innate and conditioned fear may depend on separate processes in the brain. Innate threat activates early visual areas, indicating a role for these areas in threat processing. Genetic influences on fMRI responses to social and imminent threat suggests that separate pathways may have evolved to process these threats.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2019. , p. 67
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 174
Keywords [en]
Emotion, Imminent threat, Social threat, Twins, Face, Personal space, fMRI, Virtual reality, Amygdala.
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-395864ISBN: 978-91-513-0804-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-395864DiVA, id: diva2:1365450
Public defence
2019-12-12, Betty Pettersson, Blåsenhus, von Kraemers Allé 1A, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-11-20 Created: 2019-10-24 Last updated: 2019-11-20
List of papers
1. Social, proximal and conditioned threat
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social, proximal and conditioned threat
2017 (English)In: Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, ISSN 1074-7427, E-ISSN 1095-9564, Vol. 142, part B, p. 236-243Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Responding to threats in the environment is crucial for survival. Certain types of threat produce defensive responses without necessitating previous experience and are considered innate, whereas other threats are learned by experiencing aversive consequences. Two important innate threats are whether an encountered stimulus is a member of the same species (social threat) and whether a stimulus suddenly appears proximal to the body (proximal threat). These threats are manifested early in human development and robustly elicit defensive responses. Learned threat, on the other hand, enables adaptation to threats in the environment throughout the life span. A well-studied form of learned threat is fear conditioning, during which a neutral stimulus acquires the ability to eliciting defensive responses through pairings with an aversive stimulus. If innate threats can facilitate fear conditioning, and whether different types of innate threats can enhance each other, is largely unknown. We developed an immersive virtual reality paradigm to test how innate social and proximal threats are related to each other and how they influence conditioned fear. Skin conductance responses were used to index the autonomic component of the defensive response. We found that social threat modulates proximal threat, but that neither proximal nor social threat modulates conditioned fear. Our results suggest that distinct processes regulate autonomic activity in response to proximal and social threat on the one hand, and conditioned fear on the other.

National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-322732 (URN)10.1016/j.nlm.2017.05.014 (DOI)000403738900008 ()28564588 (PubMedID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29 Last updated: 2019-10-24Bibliographically approved
2. The effect of immersive virtual reality on proximal and conditioned threat
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The effect of immersive virtual reality on proximal and conditioned threat
Show others...
2019 (English)In: Scientific Reports, ISSN 2045-2322, E-ISSN 2045-2322, Vol. 9, article id 17407Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Virtual reality lets the user be immersed in a 3-dimensional environment, which can enhance certain emotional responses to stimuli relative to experiencing them on a flat computer screen. We here tested whether displaying two different types of threats in immersive virtual reality enhanced threat related autonomic responses measured by skin conductance responses (SCRs). We studied innate and learned threat responses because these types of threats have been shown to depend on different neural circuits in animals. Therefore, it is possible that immersive virtual reality may modulate one of these threats but not the other. Innate threat responses were provoked by the sudden appearance of characters at proximal egocentric distance, which were compared to the sudden appearance of distant characters (proximal threat). Learned threat responses were studied by conditioning two of the characters to an electric shock (conditioned threat) and contrasting SCRs to these characters with SCRs to two other characters that were never paired with shock. We found that displaying stimuli in immersive virtual reality enhanced proximal threat responses but not conditioned threat responses. Findings show that immersive virtual reality can enhance an innate type of threat responses without affecting a learned threat response, suggesting that separate neural pathways serve these threat responses.

Keywords
Emotion, SCR, Innate fear, Pavlovian conditioning
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-395762 (URN)10.1038/s41598-019-53971-z (DOI)000498056900033 ()31758051 (PubMedID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2014-01160
Available from: 2019-10-23 Created: 2019-10-23 Last updated: 2019-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. Genetic influence on brain function supporting imminent and social threat
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Genetic influence on brain function supporting imminent and social threat
Show others...
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Evolution has selected for brain circuits regulating appropriate defensive responses to different types of threats. Two kinds of threats of interest to human evolution are social threat and imminent, or proximal threat. We estimated the heritability of activation of neural circuits supporting these two types of threat using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 294 identical and fraternal twins. Imminent threat activated brain areas associated with early visual processing, including the lateral geniculate nucleus, as well as the amygdala and a fronto-parietal network. We observed medium to strong heritability in the occipital lobe (with strongest heritability in area V1) (h2 = 42-63%), fusiform cortex (h2 = 51%) and the lingual gyri (h2 = 49%). Social threat activated the lateral occipital lobe, fusiform gyri and amygdala with strong heritability in the occipital (h2 = 51-58%) and fusiform gyri (h2 = 54%). Activations to imminent social threat was greater than activation to non-social imminent threat in the middle occipital gyrus and superior occipital gyrus with heritability estimates ranging between 27-42% in this region. We conclude that activity in the human brain associated with imminent and social threat is heritable, supporting the view that the brain function expressed by these defensive systems have been subject to substantial evolutionary selection.

Keywords
Emotion, SCR, innate fear, twins, evolution, face, personal space
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-395763 (URN)
Available from: 2019-10-23 Created: 2019-10-23 Last updated: 2019-10-24

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(1157 kB)32 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 1157 kBChecksum SHA-512
8a37ea23511920d7bcf1882e274aa40fd94688388d12df4e32afcd49caf0f72c90d7f21bc8279ff54d5feb3f7ec3e503d6e1adce2b1d0f4c629c8632672e8a79
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Rosén, Jörgen
By organisation
Department of Psychology
Psychology

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 32 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

isbn
urn-nbn

Altmetric score

isbn
urn-nbn
Total: 191 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf