Prefrontal cortex and the amygdala

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Chapter 10 endnote 36, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

Traditional research on anxiety disorders is founded on the old “triune brain” model, that cognition controls emotion. Your allegedly emotional amygdala is overactive, they say, and your so-called rational prefrontal cortex is failing to regulate it.

In the theory of constructed emotion, a weakened connection between body-budgeting regions in the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala is understood to be a problem of prediction (the brain preparing body-budgeting incorrectly or inefficiently). In the classical view, this same situation is seen (wrongly) as a failure of cognition to regulate emotion.

The most prominent use of the triune brain concept to understand fear and anxiety can be found in studies of “fear learning” (discussed in chapter 12). Newer studies reveal that so-called fear learning, in fact, occurs via prediction and prediction errors, not stimulus and response.[1][2] Various actions are predicted in fear, based on the context,[3] meaning that fear involves degenerate circuits that fire as predictions, not reactions. Even “anxiety,” which was once thought to be separable from “fear,” turns out to use the same circuitry.[2]


Notes on the Notes

  1. Li, Susan Shi Yuan, and Gavan P. McNally. 2014. "The conditions that promote fear learning: prediction error and Pavlovian fear conditioning." Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 108: 14-21.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tovote, Philip, Jonathan Paul Fadok, and Andreas Lüthi. 2015. "Neuronal circuits for fear and anxiety." Nature Reviews Neuroscience 16 (6): 317-331.
  3. Gross, Cornelius T., and Newton Sabino Canteras. 2012. "The many paths to fear." Nature Reviews Neuroscience 13 (9): 651-658.