GABA a receptors predict aversion-related brain responses: An fMRI-PET investigation in healthy humans

Dave J. Hayes, Niall W. Duncan, Christine Wiebking, Karin Pietruska, Pengmin Qin, Stefan Lang, Jean Gagnon, Paul Gravel Bing, Jeroen Verhaeghe, Alexey P. Kostikov, Ralf Schirrmacher, Andrew J. Reader, Julien Doyon, Pierre Rainville, Georg Northoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The perception of aversive stimuli is essential for human survival and depends largely on environmental context. Although aversive brain processing has been shown to involve the sensorimotor cortex, the neural and biochemical mechanisms underlying the interaction between two independent aversive cues are unclear. Based on previous work indicating ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) involvement in the mediation of context-dependent emotional effects, we hypothesized a central role for the vmPFC in modulating sensorimotor cortex activity using a GABAergic mechanism during an aversive-aversive stimulus interaction. This approach revealed differential activations within the aversion-related network (eg, sensorimotor cortex, midcingulate, and insula) for the aversive-aversive, when compared with the aversive-neutral, interaction. Individual differences in sensorimotor cortex signal changes during the aversive-aversive interaction were predicted by GABA A receptors in both vmPFC and sensorimotor cortex. Together, these results demonstrate the central role of GABA in mediating context-dependent effects in aversion-related processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1438-1450
Number of pages13
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • PET
  • emotion
  • fMRI
  • flumazenil
  • human
  • perigenual anterior cingulate cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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