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Poster D103

Long-term multimodal sensory circuit adaptation to acquired threat is impaired in anxiety

Poster Session D - Monday, April 15, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Joshua Brown1 (, Yijia Ma1, Yuqi You2, Wen Li1,3; 1Florida State University, 2Zhejiang University, 3UTHealth Houston

The need for efficient identification of environmental threat promotes multimodal sensory integration. The sensory cortex exhibits immediate plasticity to acquired threat cues, which evolves and consolidates over time and potentially underlies long-term threat memory. However, evidence to date is limited to cue-specific sensory cortex, leaving it unexplored whether such plasticity also entails heightened integration across multimodal sensory cortices. Threat learning and memory is exaggerated in anxious individuals, constituting a primary mechanism underlying anxiety disorders (especially, posttraumatic stress disorder/PTSD). Intriguingly, while vivid in PTSD, threat memories are often fragmented, suggesting that anxiety facilitates cue-specific (unimodal) sensory processing but impedes multisensory integration. To elucidate these possibilities, we examined interactions across multimodal sensory cortices in an fMRI study of olfactory threat conditioning with immediate and delayed (8 days) recall (N=31). Using generalized psychophysiological interaction (gPPI) analysis of fMRI timeseries, we observed that anxiety positively correlated with functional connectivity increase (from the baseline) between the primary olfactory (piriform) cortex and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex in response to the conditioned (vs. non-conditioned) odor, especially at the delayed recall, confirming heightened defensive response in anxiety. Nonetheless, for the conditioned (vs. non-conditioned) odor, anxiety negatively correlated with functional connectivity increase between the olfactory cortex and primary visual and somatosensory cortices, particularly at delayed recall. These findings reveal time- and anxiety-dependent circuit adaption following threat conditioning: adaptive neural responses to learned threat elicit multisensory integration in non-anxious individuals, whereas anxiety exaggerates cue-specific processing at the expense of multimodal integration, potentially underpinning hallmark symptoms of intrusive memory in PTSD.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Multisensory


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