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Attentional set to safety recruits the ventral medial prefrontal cortex

Yao, Shuxia and Qi, Song and Kendrick, Keith M. and Mobbs, Dean (2018) Attentional set to safety recruits the ventral medial prefrontal cortex. Scientific Reports, 8 . Art. No. 15395. ISSN 2045-2322. PMCID PMC6193957. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-33953-3.

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Early detection of danger is highly adaptive, yet fast orientation towards safety is also key to survival. This study aimed to explore how human brain searches for safety by manipulating subjects’ attentional set. Subjects were asked to judge random dots motion (RDM) direction and could be shocked for incorrect responses (RDM trials) while keeping alert in detecting shock probability cues (cue detection trials). Relative to safe condition, where attention was set to search cues associated with no shock, incorrect responses to ‘dangerous+’ cues would increase and correct responses to ‘dangerous−’ cues would decrease shock probability. In RDM trials, relative to the ‘dangerous+’, the safe and ‘dangerous−’ attentional set induced stronger activation in the ventral medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), a core region involved in flexible threat assessment and safety signalling. In cue detection trials, shorter response times and greater accuracy were observed for ‘dangerous+’ than ‘dangerous−’ and safe cues. At neural level ‘dangerous+’ cues induced stronger activity in the frontoparietal attention network than safe cues. Overall, our findings demonstrate that attentional set for searching safety recruits the vmPFC, while detection of threat-related cues elicits activity in the frontoparietal attention network, suggesting new roles for these regions in human defensive survival circuitry.

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URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle Paper
Yao, Shuxia0000-0002-5259-6374
Qi, Song0000-0002-5886-849X
Kendrick, Keith M.0000-0002-0371-5904
Mobbs, Dean0000-0003-1175-3772
Alternate Title:Attentional set to safety recruits the medial prefrontal cortex
Additional Information:© 2018 The Author(s). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit Received 14 March 2018; Accepted 04 October 2018; Published 18 October 2018. Data Availability: The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. This study was supported by a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, grant number 31700998) to Shuxia Yao, a NSFC grant (grant number 31530032) to Keith Kendrick and a grant from NARSAD to Dean Mobbs. Author Contributions: S.Y., D.M. and K.M.K. designed the study and wrote the manuscript. S.Y. and S.Q. collected the data. S.Y. and D.M. analyzed the data. All authors contributed to and have approved the final version of the manuscript. The authors declare no competing interests.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Natural Science Foundation of China31700998
National Natural Science Foundation of China31530032
National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD)UNSPECIFIED
PubMed Central ID:PMC6193957
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180305-144815407
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:85108
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:05 Mar 2018 23:41
Last Modified:02 Mar 2022 17:03

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