Functional MRI of human pavlovian fear conditioning: Patterns of activation as a function of learning

Academic Article


  • fMRI was used to study human brain activity during Pavlovian fear conditioning. Subjects were exposed to lights that either signaled painful electrical stimulation (CS+), or that did not serve as a warning signal (CS- ). Unique patterns of activation developed within anterior cingulate and visual cortices as learning progressed, training with the CS+ increased active tissue volume and shifted the timing of peak fMRI signal toward CS onset within the anterior cingulate. Within the visual cortex, active tissue volume increased with repeated CS+ presentations, while cross-correlation between the functional time course and CS- presentations decreased. This study demonstrates plasticity of anterior cingulate and visual cortices as a function of learning, and implicates these regions as components of a functional circuit activated in human fear conditioning.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • NeuroReport  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Knight DC; Smith CN; Stein EA; Helmstetter FJ
  • Start Page

  • 3665
  • End Page

  • 3670
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 17