DLPFC controls the rapid neural response to visual threat: An ERP and rTMS study.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Brain Res, Volume 1784, p.147850 (2022)


Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex, Humans, Inhibition, Psychological, Prefrontal Cortex, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation


<p>Individuals are faster at detecting threatening stimuli than neutral stimuli. While generally considered a rapid bottom-up response, this threat superiority effect is also modulated by top-down mechanisms known to rely on the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). What remains unclear is whether the response is modulated only at later stages of processing, or whether rapid attention to threat itself is controlled in a top-down manner. To test this, we used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to inhibit activity in the DLPFC, and measured EEG to index the immediate neural response to threat. Twenty participants attended two sessions where they performed a visual search task with threatening or neutral targets. Prior to this, they received 15 min of 1 Hz inhibitory or sham rTMS targeting the right DLPFC. We measured the impact of rTMS on the P1, a rapid visually-evoked potential that is modulated by attention. We found that threatening targets increased the amplitude of the P1 in the sham condition, but inhibition of the DLPFC abolished this increase. These results suggest that the neural signature of rapid attentional detection of threat, even at its earliest stage, is influenced in a top-down fashion by the right DLPFC.</p>

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