Space, Time and Fear: Survival Decisions along Defensive Circuits

Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 12:00pm
Dean Mobbs, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Director: Social, Affective and Ecological Neuroscience Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

For the purpose of survival, agents use space and time as cues to engage reactive and strategic defensive actions. These time-varying decisions reflect different survival problems that are evoked by external and internal milieu and, which in turn, conscious emotions such as fear and anxiety, emerge. Here, I will discuss a framework according to which fear and anxiety can be mapped along a spatiotemporal dimension of predatory imminence which is associated with structurally different decision-making problems and solutions and maps onto a canonical defense circuit. At the sharpest end, proximal threat is answered by a limited repertoire of reflexive and myopic actions. Abstract or distal threats allow for a wider range of options that engage internal milieu and afford deeper processing, including prospection, replay, planning and controlled actions. This suggests that proximal and distal threat engage distinct defense circuits that work in harmony where the aim is to produce the best survival decision.

Location: The Neuroscience Research Building (NRB) 1st Floor Auditorium

Date: Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Time: 12:00pm

Host: Avishek Adhikari