Fear Conditioning - Joseph Ledoux's Research

Joseph Ledoux's Research

Joseph E. LeDoux finds two amygdala pathways in the brain of the laboratory mouse by the use of fear conditioning and lesion study. He names them the "high road" and "low road". The low road is a pathway which is able to transmit a signal from a stimulus to the thalamus, and then to the amygdala, which then activates a fear-response in the body. This sequence works without a conscious experience of what comprises the stimulus, and it is the fast way to a bodily response. The high road is activated simultaneously. This is a slower road which also includes the cortical parts of the brain, thus creating a conscious impression of what the stimulus is. The low road only involves the sub-cortical part of the brain and is therefore regarded as a more primitive mechanism of defense, only existing in its separate form in lesser developed animals who have not developed the more complex part of the brain. In more developed animals, the high road and the low road work simultaneously to provide both fear-response and perceptual feedback.

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