Anticipating control over aversive stimuli is mediated by the medial prefrontal cortex: An fMRI study with healthy adults

Laura Maria Wade-Bohleber, Amelie Haugg, Sabrina Huber, Jutta Ernst, Simone Grimm, Dominique Recher, Andre Richter, Erich Seifritz, Heinz Boeker, Georg Northoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The anticipation of control over aversive events in life is relevant for our mental health. Insights on the underlying neural mechanisms remain limited. We developed a new functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) task that uses auditory stimuli to explore the neural correlates of (1) the anticipation of control over aversion and (2) the processing of aversion. In a sample of 25 healthy adults, we observed increased neural activation in the medial prefrontal cortex (ventromedial prefrontal cortex and rostral anterior cingulate cortex), other brain areas relevant for reward anticipation (ventral striatum, brainstem [ventral tegmental area], midcingulate cortex), and the posterior cingulate cortex when they anticipated control over aversion compared with anticipating no control (1). The processing of aversive sounds compared to neutral sounds (2) was associated with increased neural activation in the bilateral posterior insula. Our findings provide evidence for the important role of medial prefrontal regions in control anticipation and highlight the relevance of conceiving the neural mechanisms involved within a reward-based framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4327-4335
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number13
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • aversion
  • control anticipation
  • functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • medial prefrontal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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