Fear and stop: a role for the amygdala in motor inhibition by emotional signals.

Patricia Sagaspe, Sophie Schwartz, Patrik Vuilleumier
NeuroImage. 2011-04-01; 55(4): 1825-1835
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.01.027

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1. Neuroimage. 2011 Apr 15;55(4):1825-35. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.01.027.
Epub 2011 Jan 25.

Fear and stop: a role for the amygdala in motor inhibition by emotional signals.

Sagaspe P(1), Schwartz S, Vuilleumier P.

Author information:
(1)USR CNRS 3413, France.

Rapid interruption of ongoing motor actions is crucial to respond to unexpected
and potentially threatening situations. Yet, it remains unclear how motor
inhibition interacts with emotional processes. Here we used a modified
stop-signal task including an emotional component (fearful faces) to investigate
whether neural circuits engaged by action suppression are modulated by
task-irrelevant threat-related signals. Behavioral performance showed that
reaction times were prolonged in the presence of incidental threat information,
and this emotional slowing was enhanced when incorrect responses were made
following stop signals. However, the speed and efficacy of voluntary inhibition
was unaffected by emotion. Brain imaging data revealed that emotional cues during
stop trials interacted with activity in limbic regions encompassing the basal
amygdala and sublenticular extended amygdala region, as well as with the
supplementary motor area (SMA). In addition, successful motor inhibition to
threat signals selectively recruited a region in lateral orbitofrontal cortex,
distinct from areas in inferior frontal gyrus typically associated with voluntary
inhibition. Activity in primary motor cortex was lower when incorrect responses
were made on stop signal trials accompanied by a fearful face, relative to
neutral, in parallel with the slower response times observed behaviorally. Taken
together, our findings suggest that the amygdala may not only promote protective
motor reactions in emotionally-significant contexts (such as freezing or
defensive behavior) but also influence the execution of ongoing actions by
modulating brain circuits involved in motor control, so as to afford quick and
adaptive changes in current behavior.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.01.027
PMID: 21272655 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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