Functional interplay between central and autonomic nervous systems in human fear conditioning

Author: Simone Battaglia1, Julian F Thayer2
1 Center for Studies and Research in Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy; Department of Psychology, University of Torino, Torino, Italy. Electronic address:
2 Department of Psychological Science, 4201 Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA; Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA. Electronic address:
Conference/Journal: Trends Neurosci
Date published: 2022 May 13
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2022.04.003. , Word Count: 109

Historically, studies on the neural basis of fear conditioning have emphasized the role of the central nervous system. However, there is growing evidence for the role of the autonomic nervous system in human fear conditioning. Here, we provide an overview of the sophisticated anatomical-functional interplay between the prefrontal cortex and heart-related dynamics in human fear conditioning and propose a theoretical model to conceptualize these psychophysiological processes, the neurovisceral integration model of fear (NVI-f). A richer understanding of the neurovisceral concomitants of this functional interplay will have both theoretical and clinical implications.

Keywords: fear network; heart rate variability; prefrontal cortex; psychiatric disorders; psychophysiological responses; vagus nerve.

PMID: 35577621 DOI: 10.1016/j.tins.2022.04.003