The nature and properties of emotional expression depend importantly on not only the stimuli that elicit emotional responses, but also the context in which those stimuli are experienced. Deficits in context processing have been associated with a variety of cognitive-emotional disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These deficits can be localized to specific neural circuits underlying context processing in the mammalian brain. In particular, the hippocampus has been implicated through numerous animal and human studies to be involved both in normal contextual memory formation, but also in discrimination of trauma-related cues. Decreased hippocampal functioning, as is observed in PTSD, is associated with increased generalization of fear and threat responses as well as deficits in extinction of fear. Understanding context processing offers the opportunity to further understand the biology of PTSD and to target new approaches to therapeutics.
Chapter. 14063 words. Illustrated.
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