Preclinical and clinical evidence on the approach-avoidance conflict evaluation as an integrative tool for psychopathology

F. Rusconi, M. G. Rossetti, C. Forastieri, V. Tritto, M. Bellani, E. Battaglioli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The approach-avoidance conflict (AAC), i.e. the competing tendencies to undertake goal-directed actions or to withdraw from everyday life challenges, stands at the basis of humans' existence defining behavioural and personality domains. Gray's Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory posits that a stable bias toward approach or avoidance represents a psychopathological trait associated with excessive sensitivity to reward or punishment. Optogenetic studies in rodents and imaging studies in humans associated with cross-species AAC paradigms granted new emphasis to the hippocampus as a hub of behavioural inhibition. For instance, recent functional neuroimaging studies show that functional brain activity in the human hippocampus correlates with threat perception and seems to underlie passive avoidance. Therefore, our commentary aims to (i) discuss the inhibitory role of the hippocampus in approach-related behaviours and (ii) promote the integration of functional neuroimaging with cross-species AAC paradigms as a means of diagnostic, therapeutic, follow up and prognosis refinement in psychiatric populations.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEpidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences
StatePublished - Dec 13 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-12-19
Acknowledgements: We acknowledge Paolo Brambilla for stimulating discussions and critical reading of the manuscript. We also acknowledge Cariplo Foundation Grant 2016-0908 to EB, Competitive Research Grant KAUST Grant 2019 to EB, PSR_2019 to FR and SEED Seal of Excellence (University of Milan) to FR.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Epidemiology


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