A host of learning, memory, and decision-making processes form the individual's response to threat and may be disrupted in anxiety and post-trauma psychopathology. Here we review the neural computations of threat, from the first encounter with a dangerous situation, through learning, storing, and updating cues that predict it, to making decisions about the optimal course of action. The overview highlights the interconnected nature of these processes and their reliance on shared neural and computational mechanisms. We propose an integrative approach to the study of threat-related processes, in which specific computations are studied across the various stages of threat experience rather than in isolation. This approach can generate new insights about the evolution, diagnosis, and treatment of threat-related psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-171
Number of pages21
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Bayesian inference
  • PTSD
  • amygdala
  • anxiety
  • extinction
  • fear conditioning
  • prefrontal cortex
  • reconsolidation
  • reinforcement learning
  • striatum
  • uncertainty
  • value


Dive into the research topics of 'Neural Computations of Threat'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this