Perirhinal cortex is involved in the resolution of learned approach–avoidance conflict associated with discrete objects


The rodent ventral and primate anterior hippocampus have been implicated in approach–avoidance (AA) conflict processing. It is unclear, however, whether this structure contributes to AA conflict detection and/or resolution, and if its involvement extends to conditions of AA conflict devoid of spatial/contextual information. To investigate this, neurologically healthy human participants first learned to approach or avoid single novel visual objects with the goal of maximizing earned points. Approaching led to point gain and loss for positive and negative objects, respectively, whereas avoidance had no impact on score. Pairs of these objects, each possessing nonconflicting (positive–positive negative–negative) or conflicting (positive–negative) valences, were then presented during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Participants either made an AA decision to score points (Decision task), indicated whether the objects had identical or differing valences (Memory task), or followed a visual instruction to approach or avoid (Action task). Converging multivariate and univariate results revealed that within the medial temporal lobe, perirhinal cortex, rather than the anterior hippocampus, was predominantly associated with object-based AA conflict resolution. We suggest the anterior hippocampus may not contribute equally to all learned AA conflict scenarios and that stimulus information type may be a critical and overlooked determinant of the neural mechanisms underlying AA conflict behavior.

In Cerebral Cortex
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Sathesan Thavabalasingam
Sathesan Thavabalasingam
Data Scientist

I am a Neuroscientist turned Data Scientist with an interest in deriving meaningful insights from data.