Brain systems mediating aversive conditioning: an event-related fMRI study.
We have used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to characterize neural responses associated with emotional learning. Employing a classical conditioning paradigm in which faces were conditioned by pairing with an aversive tone (US), we compared responses evoked by conditioned (CS+) and nonconditioned (CS-) stimuli. Pairing 50% of the CS+ with the US enabled us to constrain our analysis to responses evoked by a CS+ not followed by a US. Differential evoked responses, related to conditioning, were found in the anterior cingulate and the anterior insula, regions with known involvement in emotional processing. Differential responses of the amygdalae were best characterized by a time by stimulus interaction indicating a rapid adaptation of CS+-specific responses in this region.