Monday, March 21, 2016

Anxiety suppresses prefrontal cortex decision ability.

Interesting work from Park et al.:
A debilitating aspect of anxiety is its impact on decision making and flexible control of behavior. These cognitive constructs depend on proper functioning of the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Understanding how anxiety affects PFC encoding of cognitive events is of great clinical and evolutionary significance. Using a clinically valid experimental model, we find that, under anxiety, decision making may be skewed by salient and conflicting environmental stimuli at the expense of flexible top-down guided choices. We also find that anxiety suppresses spontaneous activity of PFC neurons, and weakens encoding of task rules by dorsomedial PFC neurons. These data provide a neuronal encoding scheme for how anxiety disengages PFC during decision making.

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