Minimizing threat via heuristic and optimal policies recruits hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex

Description: Abstract of the article: Jointly minimizing multiple threats over extended time horizons enhances survival. Consequently, many tests of approach-avoidance conflict incorporate multiple threats for probing corollaries of animal and human anxiety. To facilitate computations necessary for threat minimization, the human brain may concurrently harness multiple decision policies and associated neural controllers—but it is unclear which. We combine a task that mimics foraging under predation with behavioural modelling and functional neuroimaging. Human choices rely on immediate predator probability—a myopic heuristic policy—and on the optimal policy, which integrates all relevant variables. Predator probability relates positively and the associated choice uncertainty relates negatively to activations in anterior hippocampus, amygdala, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The optimal policy is positively associated with dorsomedial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activity. We thus provide a decision-theoretic outlook on the role of the human hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex in resolving approach-avoidance conflicts relevant for anxiety and integral for survival.

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Add DateMarch 31, 2019, 2:46 p.m.
Uploaded bychristoph.w.korn
Related article DOI10.1038/s41562-019-0603-9
Related article authorsChristoph W. Korn and Dominik R. Bach
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