BNST and amygdala activation to threat: Effects of temporal predictability and threat mode

Siminski N, Böhme S, Zeller JB, Becker MP, Bruchmann M, Hofmann D, Breuer F, Mühlberger A, Schiele MA, Weber H, Schartner C, Deckert J, Pauli P, Reif A, Domschke K, Straube T, Herrmann MJ (2021)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2021


Book Volume: 396

Article Number: 112883

DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2020.112883


Recent animal and human studies highlight the uncertainty about the onset of an aversive event as a crucial factor for the involvement of the centromedial amygdala (CM) and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) activity. However, studies investigating temporally predictable or unpredictable threat anticipation and confrontation processes are rare. Furthermore, the few existing fMRI studies analyzing temporally predictable and unpredictable threat processes used small sample sizes or limited fMRI paradigms. Therefore, we measured functional brain activity in 109 predominantly female healthy participants during a temporally predictable-unpredictable threat paradigm, which aimed to solve limited aspects of recent studies. Results showed higher BNST activity compared to the CM during the cue indicating that the upcoming confrontation is aversive relative to the cue indicating an upcoming neutral confrontation. Both the CM and BNST showed higher activity during the confrontation with unpredictable and aversive stimuli, but the reaction to aversive confrontation relative to neutral confrontation was stronger in the CM compared to the BNST. Additional modulation analyses by NPSR1 rs324981 genotype revealed higher BNST activity relative to the CM in unpredictable anticipation relative to predictable anticipation in T-carriers compared to AA carriers. Our results indicate that during the confrontation with aversive or neutral stimuli, temporal unpredictability modulates CM and BNST activity. Further, there is a differential activity concerning threat processing, as BNST is more involved when focussing on fear-related anticipation processes and CM is more involved when focussing on threat confrontation.

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Siminski, N., Böhme, S., Zeller, J.B., Becker, M.P., Bruchmann, M., Hofmann, D.,... Herrmann, M.J. (2021). BNST and amygdala activation to threat: Effects of temporal predictability and threat mode. Behavioural Brain Research, 396.


Siminski, N., et al. "BNST and amygdala activation to threat: Effects of temporal predictability and threat mode." Behavioural Brain Research 396 (2021).

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