|||BRAEM, S., DE HOUWER, J., DEMANET, J, YUEN, K. S. L., KALISCH, R., & BRASS, M. (2017). PATTERN ANALYSES REVEAL SEPARATE EXPERIENCE-BASED FEAR MEMORIES IN THE HUMAN RIGHT AMYGDALA. JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, 37, 8116–8130.||Jan De Houwer||UGENT||2018 03||
Learning fear via the experience of contingencies between a conditioned stimulus (CS) and an aversive unconditioned stimulus (US) is often assumed to be fundamentally different from learning fear via instructions. An open question is whether fear-related brain areas respond differently to experienced CS-US contingencies than to merely instructed CS-US contingencies. Here, we contrasted two experimental conditions where subjects were instructed to expect the same CS-US contingencies while only one condition was characterized by prior experience with the CS-US contingency. Using multi-voxel pattern analysis of fMRI data, we found CS-related neural activation patterns in the right amygdala (but not in other fear-related regions) that dissociated between whether a CS-US contingency had been instructed and experienced versus merely instructed. A second experiment further corroborated this finding by showing a category-independent neural response to instructed and experienced, but not merely instructed, CS presentations in the human right amygdala. Together, these findings are in line with previous studies showing that verbal fear instructions have a strong impact on both brain and behaviour. However, even in the face of fear instructions, the human right amygdala still shows a separable neural pattern response to experience-based fear contingencies.