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The Neuropsychology of AnxietyAn enquiry into the function of the septo-hippocampal system$
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Jeffrey A. Gray and Neil McNaughton

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198522713

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198522713.001.0001

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A theory of the behavioural inhibition system

A theory of the behavioural inhibition system

(p.83) 5 A theory of the behavioural inhibition system
The Neuropsychology of Anxiety

Jeffrey A. Gray

Neil McNaughton

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents the Behavioural Inhibition System (BIS) as mediating between a Fight-Flight-Freezing system (FFFS) that controls pure avoidance (of punishment or frustration), and a Behavioural Approach System (BAS) that controls pure approach (to reward or safety). The BIS is activated when both the FFFS and BAS are concurrently activated. Its output increases the avoidance tendency as well as generating risk assessment, changes in arousal, and changes in attention. The BIS, as evidenced by anti-anxiety drug action, has immense species-generality and by implication, phylogenetic age. It is argued that it will, therefore, have distributed neural control with multiple evolved modules each providing a ‘rule of thumb’ that allows appropriate output under some but not all circumstances. The observed outputs of the BIS will often be the result of output from a range of parallel neural pathways.

Keywords:   Behavioural Inhibition System, fight-flight system, Behavioural Approach System, evolution, rules of thumb, punishment, reward, frustration, relief

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