Brain circuits involved in emotions identified

Washington, April 23: Researchers have discovered a brain pathway that underlies the emotional behaviours critical for survival.

New research has identified a chain of neural connections which links central survival circuits to the spinal cord, causing the body to freeze when experiencing fear.

An important brain region responsible for how humans and animals respond to danger is known as the PAG (periaqueductal grey), and it can trigger responses such as freezing, a high heart rate, increase in blood pressure and the desire for flight or fight.

This latest research has discovered a brain pathway leading from the PAG to a highly localised part of the cerebellum, called the pyramis. The research went on to show that the pyramis is involved in generating freezing behaviour when central survival networks are activated during innate and learnt threatening situations.

The pyramis may therefore serve as an important point of convergence for different survival networks in order to react to an emotionally challenging situation.

Professor Bridget Lumb, Professor of Systems Neuroscience, said that their work introduces the novel concept that the cerebellum is a promising target for therapeutic strategies to manage dysregulation of emotional states such as panic disorders and phobias.

The research has been published in the Journal of Physiology. (ANI)