The study of active avoidance: A platform for discussion

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019 Dec:107:229-237. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.09.010. Epub 2019 Sep 8.


Traditional active avoidance tasks have advanced the field of aversive learning and memory for decades and are useful for studying simple avoidance responses in isolation; however, these tasks have limited clinical relevance because they do not model several key features of clinical avoidance. In contrast, platform-mediated avoidance (PMA) more closely resembles clinical avoidance because the response i) is associated with an unambiguous safe location, ii) is not associated with an artificial termination of the warning signal, and iii) is associated with a decision-based appetitive cost. Recent findings on the neuronal circuits of PMA have confirmed that amygdala-striatal circuits are essential for avoidance. In PMA, however, the prelimbic cortex facilitates the avoidance response early during the warning signal, perhaps through disinhibition of the striatum. Future studies on avoidance should account for additional factors such as sex differences and social interactions that will advance our understanding of maladaptive avoidance contributing to neuropsychiatric disorders.

Keywords: Accumbens; Amygdala; Fear; Prelimbic cortex; Striatum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / physiology*
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology
  • Fear / physiology*