Neural Oscillations in Aversively Motivated Behavior. Academic Article uri icon


  • Fear and anxiety-based disorders are highly debilitating and among the most prevalent psychiatric disorders. These disorders are associated with abnormal network oscillations in the brain, yet a comprehensive understanding of the role of network oscillations in the regulation of aversively motivated behavior is lacking. In this review, we examine the oscillatory correlates of fear and anxiety with a particular focus on rhythms in the theta and gamma-range. First, we describe neural oscillations and their link to neural function by detailing the role of well-studied theta and gamma rhythms to spatial and memory functions of the hippocampus. We then describe how theta and gamma oscillations act to synchronize brain structures to guide adaptive fear and anxiety-like behavior. In short, that hippocampal network oscillations act to integrate spatial information with motivationally salient information from the amygdala during states of anxiety before routing this information via theta oscillations to appropriate target regions, such as the prefrontal cortex. Moreover, theta and gamma oscillations develop in the amygdala and neocortical areas during the encoding of fear memories, and interregional synchronization reflects the retrieval of both recent and remotely encoded fear memories. Finally, we argue that the thalamic nucleus reuniens represents a key node synchronizing prefrontal-hippocampal theta dynamics for the retrieval of episodic extinction memories in the hippocampus.

published proceedings

  • Front Behav Neurosci

altmetric score

  • 5.95

author list (cited authors)

  • Totty, M. S., & Maren, S.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Totty, Michael S||Maren, Stephen

publication date

  • January 2022