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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 24;8(6):e68494. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068494. Print 2013.

Aversive event anticipation affects connectivity between the ventral striatum and the orbitofrontal cortex in an fMRI avoidance task.

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KG Jebsen Centre for Psychosis Research, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.


Ability to anticipate aversive events is important for avoiding dangerous or unpleasant situations. The motivation to avoid an event is influenced by the incentive salience of an event-predicting cue. In an avoidance fMRI task we used tone intensities to manipulate salience in order to study the involvement of the orbitofrontal cortex in processing of incentive salience. In the task, cues predicting either aversive or neutral avoidable tones were presented. Ventral striatum, amygdala and anterior insula activations were significantly stronger during presentation of cues for aversive than neutral tones. A psychophysiological interaction analysis showed stronger connectivity between the ventral striatum and the orbitofrontal cortex during aversive than neutral conditions. The present study shows an interaction between the ventral striatum, a structure previously linked to negative incentive salience, and the orbitofrontal cortex supporting a role for this region in processing salience. In addition, this study replicates previous findings suggesting that the task is robust.

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