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A 7-Tesla MRI Study of the Periaqueductal Grey: Resting State and Task Activation Under Threat. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2021 Jul 09



Pubmed ID





The periaqueductal grey (PAG) is a region of the midbrain implicated in a variety of behaviors including defensive responses to threat. Despite the wealth of knowledge pertaining to the differential functional roles of the PAG columns in nonhuman and human research, the basic functional connectivity of the PAG at rest has not been well characterized. Therefore, the current study utilized 7-Tesla MRI to characterize PAG functional connectivity at rest and task activation under uncertain threat. A sample of 53 neurologically healthy undergraduate participants (Mage=22.2, SDage=3.62) underwent structural and resting state functional MRI scans. Supporting previous work, voxel-wise analyses showed the PAG is functionally connected to emotion regulation and fear networks. Comparison of functional connectivity of PAG columns did not reveal any significant differences. Thirty-five participants from the same sample also completed an uncertain threat task with blocks of 3 conditions-No shock, Predictable shock, and Unpredictable shock. There were no robust activity differences within the PAG columns or the whole PAG across conditions, though there was differential activity at the voxel level in the PAG and in other regions theoretically relevant to uncertain threat. Results of this study elucidate PAG connectivity at rest and activation in response to uncertain threat.

Author List

Weis CN, Bennett KP, Huggins AA, Parisi EA, Gorka SM, Larson C


Carissa N. Weis PhD Assistant Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin