The Contextual Brain: Implications for Fear Conditioning, Extinction and Psychopathology

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2013 Jun;14(6):417-28. doi: 10.1038/nrn3492. Epub 2013 May 2.

Abstract

Contexts surround and imbue meaning to events; they are essential for recollecting the past, interpreting the present and anticipating the future. Indeed, the brain's capacity to contextualize information permits enormous cognitive and behavioural flexibility. Studies of Pavlovian fear conditioning and extinction in rodents and humans suggest that a neural circuit including the hippocampus, amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex is involved in the learning and memory processes that enable context-dependent behaviour. Dysfunction in this network may be involved in several forms of psychopathology, including post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and substance abuse disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology*
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*