Stress-Induced Enhancement of the Startle Reflex
Annual rept. 1 Oct 1991-30 Sep 1992
YALE UNIV NEW HAVEN CT SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
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This study examines the role of the amygdala in the acquisition of conditioned fear. Conditioned fear-potentiated startle involves both learning e.g., learning the association between the light and the shock, memory e.g., retrieval of the association that the light predicts shock which then leads to a state of fear, and performance e.g., the state of fear elevating the startle reflex. Work prior to that supported by the Air Force had purposely focused on performance, because researchers felt this was probably the simplest aspect of this paradigm and hence the one most amenable to experimental analysis. Hence, the authors chose drugs e.g., diazepam, buspirone or lesions e.g., of the central nucleus of the amygdala which should reduce fear and thereby prevent fear-enhancement of startle. This work showed that the central nucleus of the amygdala, and its direct projection to a particular part of the acoustic startle pathway, were critically involved in the performance or expression of fear-potentiated startle.
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Medicine and Medical Research