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Physiol Behav. 2002 Dec;77(4-5):469-75.

Neural substrates linking balance control and anxiety.

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Department of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
U Pittsburgh Sch Med, PA


This communication provides an update of our understanding of the neurological bases for the close association between balance control and anxiety. New data suggest that a vestibulo-recipient region of the parabrachial nucleus (PBN) contains cells that respond to body rotation and position relative to gravity. The PBN, with its reciprocal relationships with the extended central amygdaloid nucleus, infralimbic cortex, and hypothalamus, appears to be an important node in a primary network that processes convergent vestibular, somatic, and visceral information processing to mediate avoidance conditioning, anxiety, and conditioned fear responses. Noradrenergic and serotonergic projections to the vestibular nuclei also have parallel connections with anxiety pathways. The coeruleo-vestibular pathway originates in caudal locus coeruleus (LC) and provides regionally specialized noradrenergic input to the vestibular nuclei, which likely mediate effects of alerting and vigilance on the sensitivity of vestibulo-motor circuits. Both serotonergic and nonserotonergic pathways from the dorsal raphe nucleus and the nucleus raphe obscurus also project differentially to the vestibular nuclei, and 5-HT(2A) receptors are expressed in amygdaloid and cortical targets of the PBN. It is proposed that the dorsal raphe nucleus pathway contributes to both (a) a tradeoff between motor and sensory (information gathering) aspects of responses to self-motion and (b) a calibration of the sensitivity of affective responses to aversive aspects of motion. This updated neurologic model continues to be a synthetic schema for investigating the neurological and neurochemical bases for comorbidity of balance disorders and anxiety disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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