5 Scopus citations


Defensive motivation, broadly defined as the orchestrated optimization of defensive functions, encapsulates core components of threat-related psychopathology. The exact relationship between defensive functions and stress-induced symptoms, however, is not entirely clear. Here we review how some of the most important behavioral and neurological findings related to threat-related disorders — lowering response threshold to threats, facilitated learning and generalization to new threatening cues, reduced appetitive sensitivity, and resistance to extinction of the defensive state — map onto defensive motivational states, highlighting evidence that supports conjecturing threat-related disorders as persistent motivational states. We propose a mechanism for the perpetuation of the motivational state, progressively converting temporary defensive functions into persistent defensive states associated with distress and impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-68
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
StatePublished - Apr 2019


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