Neil Mcnaughton

Neil Mcnaughton
University of Otago · Department of Psychology

M.A.(Oxon.), PhD

About

197
Publications
35,175
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Citations
Introduction
Prof McNaughton’s research is essentially unique in concurrently spanning and integrating the areas of affective, behavioural, pharmacological, cognitive, and personality neuroscience. He is recognised internationally for making major theoretical advances in the integration of these areas, developing a new and highly successful version of Gray’s (1982) neuropsychology of anxiety (Gray & McNaughton, 2000; McNaughton & Corr, 2004) with a 3rd edition under contract. His funded keynote conference pr
Additional affiliations
April 1982 - present
The University of Otago
April 1973 - April 1982
University of Oxford
Position
  • PostDoc Position
April 1970 - July 1973
University of Southampton
Position
  • PhD Student/Demonstrator
Education
September 1966 - September 1970
University of Oxford
Field of study
  • psychology and philosophy

Publications

Publications (197)
Article
Anxiety and panic are both elicited by threat and co‐occur clinically. But, at the neural level, anxiety appears to inhibit the generation of panic; and vice versa. Anxiety and panic are thought to engage more anterior (a) and mid‐posterior (m) parts of the periaqueductal gray (PAG), respectively. Anxiety also engages the hippocampus and medial pre...
Article
Action stopping depends on at least two (fast, slow) frontal circuits depending on the urgency of execution of the ‘go’ response. Human EEG suggests a third (even slower, limbic) circuit that activates frontal areas at frequencies typical of ‘hippocampal theta’. Here we test in male rats whether stop-go conflict engages the hippocampus and so may s...
Article
Full-text available
Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental disorders in the world, creating huge economic burdens on health systems and impairing the quality of life for those affected. Recently, ketamine has emerged as an effective anxiolytic even in cases resistant to conventional treatments (TR); but its therapeutic mechanism is unknown. Previous data sugg...
Article
This paper represents the outcome of a multidisciplinary discussion on what works, what does not, and what can be improved, in ongoing work on biobehavioral taxonomies and their biomarkers. The authors of this paper, representing a wide spectrum of biobehavioral disciplines (clinical, developmental, differential psychology, neurophysiology, endocri...
Article
Full-text available
The construction of complex engrams requires hippocampal–cortical interactions. These include both direct interactions and ones via often-overlooked subcortical loops. Here, we review the anatomical organization of a hierarchy of parallel ‘Papez’ loops through the hypothalamus that are homologous in mammals from rats to humans. These hypothalamic l...
Article
Fundamental neurobiological processes are usually evolutionarily conserved and most easily studied in animals. There is a move to seeing psychopathology as an extreme position in a multidimensional trait spectrum, and even zebrafish provide useful models of psychopathology. Animal breeding, pharmacology, and neural models of states provide a basis...
Article
Full-text available
Like socio-economic status and cognitive abilities, personality traits predict important life outcomes. Traits that reflect unusually low or high approach motivations, such as low extraversion and high disinhibition, are linked to various forms of mental disorder. Similarly, the dopamine system is theoretically linked to approach motivation traits...
Article
Full-text available
Psychiatric diagnoses currently rely on a patient’s presenting symptoms or signs, lacking much-needed theory-based biomarkers. Our neuropsychological theory of anxiety, recently supported by human imaging, is founded on a longstanding, reliable, rodent ‘theta’ brain rhythm model of human clinical anxiolytic drug action. We have now developed a huma...
Article
Full-text available
A hippocampal-diencephalic-cortical network supports memory function. The anterior thalamic nuclei (ATN) form a key anatomical hub within this system. Consistent with this, injury to the mammillary body-ATN axis is associated with examples of clinical amnesia. However, there is only limited and indirect support that the output of ATN neurons active...
Preprint
Full-text available
A hippocampal-diencephalic-cortical network supports memory function. The anterior thalamic nuclei (ATN) form a key anatomical hub within this system. Consistent with this, injury to the mammillary body-ATN axis is associated with examples of clinical amnesia. However, there is only limited and indirect support that the output of ATN neurons active...
Preprint
Full-text available
Depression is highly prevalent, increases suicide risk, and is now the leading cause of disability worldwide. Our ability to treat depression is hampered by the lack of understanding of its biological underpinnings and of the mode of action of effective treatments. We hypothesised that the scaffolding proteins in the medial frontal cortex play a ma...
Article
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders impacting people worldwide. Using an auditory Stop Signal Task (SST), we have developed an anxiety disorder biomarker (goal-conflict specific rhythmicity/GCSR) that occurs at the right frontal site F8 in right-handed participants. Here, we compare its laterality in left-handers (n = 26) versus...
Article
Background The construction of multichannel micro-electrode arrays (MEA) generally requires complex and expensive procedures. Here we describe a simple, cheap, flexible method of linear MEA construction. New method Our method allows manufacture of linear MEA (cross section ∼ 375 × 250 μm with 12 electrodes) of any desired length, with customized s...
Article
Theta oscillations in the hippocampus have many behavioral correlates, with the magnitude and vigor of ongoing movement being the most salient. Many consider correlates of locomotion with hippocampal theta to be a confound in delineating theta contributions to cognitive processes. Theory and empirical experiments suggest theta‐movement relationship...
Article
Full-text available
“Personality is an abstraction used to explain consistency and coherency in an individual’s pattern of affects, cognitions, desires and behaviors [ABCDs]” (Revelle, 2007, p. 37). But personality research currently provides more a taxonomy of patterns than theories of fundamental causes. Psychiatric disorders can be viewed as involving extremes of p...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Purpose: This study aims to identify EEG biomarkers that predict the level of depressive personality (where extreme scores indicate disorder), as opposed to the presence or absence of a depressive state or a depression diagnosis. Methods: Fourier features were extracted from 2-second epochs of resting state EEG and used by LSBoost to max-imise the...
Article
Full-text available
Economic decision biases can reflect emotion and emotion dysfunction. Economic paradigms thus provide a solid framework for analysis of brain processes related to emotion and its disorders. Importantly for economic decisions, goal-conflict activates different negative motivational processes than pure loss; generating negative decision biases linked...
Preprint
Full-text available
Theta oscillations in the hippocampus have many behavioural correlates, with the magnitude and vigour of ongoing movement being the most salient. Many consider correlates of locomotion with hippocampal theta to be a confound in delineating theta contributions to cognitive processes. But, theory and empirical experiments suggest theta-movement relat...
Article
Full-text available
Psychiatric disorders can often be viewed as extremes of personality traits. The primary action of drugs that ameliorate these disorders may, thus, be to alter the patient’s position on a relevant trait dimension. Here, we suggest that interactions between such trait dimensions may also be important for disorder. Internalizing disorders show import...
Preprint
EEG signals are often contaminated with artefacts, particularly with mains power from electrical equipment. Low-pass filtering and notch filtering can lose valuable data. Here we describe a novel mains power noise removal method based on the fact that mains power noise is a sine wave component with an essentially fixed frequency and the same phase...
Article
Ethanol is one of the most widely used drugs - with many psychoactive effects, including anxiolysis. The deleterious effects on brain function and general health of chronic and high-level ethanol use are well-studied. However, the neurophysiology of acute low dose ethanol has not been systematically investigated. Here, we examined the effects of lo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Ethanol is one of the most widely used drugs - with many psychoactive effects, including anxiolysis. The deleterious effects on brain function and general health of chronic and high-level ethanol use are well-studied. However, the neurophysiology of acute low dose ethanol has not been systematically investigated. Here, we examined the effects of lo...
Article
Full-text available
Depression is a major cause of health disability. EEG measures may provide one or more economical biomarkers for the diagnosis of depression. Here we compared frontal alpha asymmetry (FAA), posterior alpha asymmetry (PAA), and Higuchi’s fractal dimension (HFD) to test their capacity to predict PID-5 depressivity and for the specificity of these pre...
Article
Depression is a major cause of health disability. EEG measures may provide one or more economical biomarkers for the diagnosis of depression. Here we compared frontal alpha asymmetry (FAA), posterior alpha asymmetry (PAA), and Higuchi’s fractal dimension (HFD) to test their capacity to predict PID-5 depressivity and for the specificity of these pre...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Ketamine acts swiftly in a range of neurotic disorders even in patients resistant to conventional antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs. We recently reported effects of ketamine on frontal EEG in patients with treatment-resistant (TR) generalised anxiety (GAD) and social anxiety (SAD) disorders. Ketamine increase high frequency EEG power, and decreas...
Article
Gain or omission/termination of loss produces approach; while loss or omission/termination of gain produces withdrawal. Control of approach/withdrawal motivation is distinct from valuation of gain/loss and does not entail learning – making “reward” and “punishment” ambiguous. Approach-withdrawal goal conflict engages a neurally distinct Behavioural...
Article
Full-text available
The Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory of Personality has as its main foundation a Behavioural Inhibition System (BIS), defined by anxiolytic drugs, in which high trait sensitivity should lead to internalising, anxiety, disorders. Conversely, it has been suggested that low BIS sensitivity would be a characteristic of externalising disorders. BIS outp...
Article
Full-text available
Background We previously reported that ketamine has anxiolytic effects in patients with treatment-resistant generalized anxiety and social anxiety disorders. Aims The purpose of this study was to replicate our earlier report about ketamine‘s anxiolytic activity, using a more robust study design. Methods This was a double-blind, psychoactive-contr...
Article
Anxiety disorders have high prevalence and generate major disability. But they have poor treatment targeting because psychiatry lacks diagnostic biomarkers. Right frontal goal-conflict-specific-rhythmicity (GCSR) in the simple stop signal task appears homologous to hippocampal "theta" as an anxiety-process biomarker but is weak and transient. An an...
Article
Anxiety disorders are currently the most prevalent psychiatric diseases in Europe and the United States, the 6th highest cause of years of life lived with disability, and so a grave and ever-increasing burden on health care resources. Categorization of specific anxiety disorders is constantly evolving, but even the new Diagnostic and Statistical Ma...
Article
Anxiety, ‘the disease of the 21st century’, is a clinical enigma. Using virtual predators to create real-world threat scenarios, two new studies build on prior rodent-based anxiety theory to map effects of personality and decision complexity in human prefrontal cortex. We may soon have coherent neural maps of these disabling and costly psychiatric...
Article
Many see the periaqueductal gray (PAG) as a region responsible for the downstream control of defensive reactions. Here we provide a detailed review of anatomical and functional data on the different parts of the PAG together with the dorsal raphe, which completes the circle of periaqueductal nuclei. Based on anatomical features, we propose a new su...
Article
Risk assessment (RA) behaviour is unusual in the context of survival circuits. An external object elicits eating, mating or fleeing; but conflict between internal approach and withdrawal tendencies elicits RA-specific behaviour that scans the environment for new information to bring closure. Recently rodent and human threat responses have been comp...
Article
The anterior thalamic nuclei (ATN) are a major interface between the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex within an extended Papez circuit. Rat models suggest that the deficits caused by ATN damage, which is associated with ‘diencephalic amnesia’, can be ameliorated by environmental enrichment (EE) through unknown mechanisms. We examined whether chang...
Article
Full-text available
Theories in personality neuroscience must aim to be consistent with several levels of explanation. If we view personality traits as constructs located only at the psychological level, we must still make their explanations compatible with observations and theories at lower levels, particularly with what we know at the neural level. If we view person...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Ketamine is swiftly effective in a range of neurotic disorders that are resistant to conventional antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs. The neural basis for its therapeutic action is unknown. Here we report the effects of ketamine on the EEG of patients with treatment-resistant generalized anxiety and social anxiety disorders. Methods:...
Article
Objective: In this maintenance treatment study, we sought to evaluate the effect on anxiety ratings, safety and tolerability of 3 months of weekly ketamine in 20 patients with treatment-refractory DSM IV generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and/or social anxiety disorder (SAD), and subsequent assessment of remission post-treatment. Methods: This w...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Ketamine is swiftly effective in a range of neurotic disorders that are resistant to conventional antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs. The neural basis for its therapeutic action is unknown. Here we report the effects of ketamine on the EEG of patients with treatment-resistant generalised anxiety (GAD) and social anxiety (SAD) disorders...
Poster
Full-text available
behavioural inhibition, local field potential, theta, beta, gamma, oscillations, stop signal task
Article
Full-text available
Hippocampal (HPC) theta oscillations have long been linked to various functions of the brain. Many cortical and subcortical areas that also exhibit theta oscillations have been linked to functional circuits with the hippocampus on the basis of coupled activities at theta frequencies. We examine, in freely moving rats, the characteristics of diencep...
Article
Full-text available
Algorithms for estimating directed connectivity have become indispensable to further understand the neurodynamics between functionally coupled brain areas. The evaluation of directed connectivity on the propagation of brain activity has largely been based on simulated data or toy models, where various hidden properties of neurophysiological data ma...
Article
Mood disorders are the leading cause of health-related disability, with ‘anxiety disorders’ being commonest in New Zealand. But diagnosis is still based on clinical symptom checklists not biological causes. We have developed a detailed theory of the brain systems controlling threat-avoidance and threat-approach—in which activity generates specific...
Article
The N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist ketamine has rapid onset activity in treatment-resistant depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. Due to similarities in brain network activity in depression and anxiety disorders, we hypothesized that ketamine might also be active in other refractory anxiety disorder...
Article
The phenomenology of delay discounting, (e.g. shape of the discount function; relation to mental health) has been reviewed in detail previously, but not its neural substrates. Its neuropsychology is crucial for both theory and clinical practice. So, here, we review the neural underpinnings of delay discounting. We introduce its objective summary me...
Chapter
Approach and avoidance behaviours have evolved with adaptive constraints common to a plethora of positive and negative goals, respectively. Approach and avoidance systems are linked by contingencies to distinct systems that value positive (gain) and negative (loss) stimuli (e.g. omission of gain results in avoidance). An additional, phylogeneticall...
Chapter
Neuroscience research on human motivation in the workplace is still in its infancy. There is a large industrial and organizational (IO) psychology literature containing numerous theories of motivation, relating to prosocial and productive, and, less so, "darker" antisocial and counterproductive, behaviors. However, the development of a viable over-...
Poster
Right frontal goal-conflict-specific-rhythmicity (GCSR) in a simple stop signal task (SST) is a potential human EEG anxiety biomarker. Anticipatory response inhibition tasks (ARITs) produce a similar stopping challenge but without the pressure of a speeded go response. With left-, right-, and both-handed stopping alternatives, the ARIT is reported...
Article
We discuss comorbidity, continuity, and discontinuity of anxiety-related disorders from the perspective of a two-dimensional neuropsychology of fear (threat avoidance) and anxiety (threat approach). Pharmacological dissection of the “neurotic” disorders justifies both a categorical division between fear and anxiety and a subdivision of each mapped...
Conference Paper
Brain oscillations can be used to decode normal and pathological brain function. From the production of simple motor responses to the control of goal-directed actions, synchronous rhythmic activity appears to be important. Stop signal task (SST) modulates rhythmic activity in the right frontal area of a human as a result of activation of the behavi...
Presentation
Full-text available
Identifying the neural source of Stop related and goal conflict specific rhythmicity
Article
Leptin has been shown to affect energy homeostasis, learning and memory, and some models of anxiolytic action. However, leptin has produced inconsistent results in previous non-operant behavioural tests of anxiety. Here, we test the anxiolytic potential of leptin in an operant paradigm that has produced positive results across all classes of anxiol...
Article
Full-text available
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illness in the western world with a major impact on disability. But their diagnosis has lacked objective biomarkers. We previously demonstrated a human anxiety process biomarker, goal-conflict-specific electroencephalography (EEG) rhythmicity (GCSR) in the stop-signal task (SST). Here we have devel...
Article
Full-text available
The hippocampal formation plays a critical role in the generation of episodic memory. While the encoding of the spatial and contextual components of memory have been extensively studied, how the hippocampus encodes temporal information, especially at long time intervals, is less well understood. The activity of place cells in hippocampus has previo...
Conference Paper
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the western world with a major impact on disability; but their diagnosis is problematic. Anxiolytic drugs have been proposed to act by changing rhythmicity in the Behavioural Inhibition System (BIS) which acts to resolve goal conflicts. Goal-conflict-specific rhythmic activation in the Stop Si...
Article
Injury to the anterior thalamic nuclei (ATN) may affect both hippocampus and retrosplenial cortex thus explaining some parallels between diencephalic and medial temporal lobe amnesias. We found that standard-housed rats with ATN lesions, compared to standard-housed controls, showed reduced spine density in hippocampal CA1 neurons (basal dendrites,...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illness in the western world with a major impact on disability. Until now their diagnosis has not been based on objective biomarkers. To solve this problem, we developed a human EEG biomarker, conflict specific rhythmicity (CSR) in the stop signal task (SST) that could identify one specific type of...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Introduction Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illness in the western world with a major impact on disability. But their diagnosis has lacked objective biomarkers. We previously developed [1,2] a human EEG anxiety biomarker, goal-conflict-specific-rhythmicity (GCSR) in the stop signal task (SST). GCSR is extracted from human scalp...
Article
Full-text available
"Anxiety disorders" are extremely common; and are a major source of health costs and lost work days. Their diagnosis is currently based on clinical symptom check lists and there are no biological markers to diagnose specific syndromal causes. This paper describes: 1) a detailed theory of the brain systems controlling anxiolytic-insensitive threat-a...
Article
Anterior thalamic (ATN) dysfunction produces memory deficits in rats and humans. The current study shows that, with a substantial delay between post-surgery tests, controls show repeated relearning on a spatial working memory task whereas rats with neurotoxic ATN lesions showed repeated relearning deficits. Rats were pre-trained to criterion, but n...
Article
Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a well-defined metabolic disorder arising from a mutation that disrupts phenylalanine metabolism and so produces a variety of neural changes indirectly. Severe cognitive impairment can be prevented by dietary treatment; however, residual symptoms may be reported. These residual symptoms appear to overlap a more prevalent ch...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness world-wide and their diagnosis is problematic. Go-stop (approach-avoidance) conflict in the Stop signal task (SST) generates rhythmic activity in the right frontal area as a result of activation of the behavioural inhibition system. Conflict rhythmicity was assessed as the difference between medi...
Article
Personality is strongly influenced by motivation systems that organise responses to rewards and punishments and that drive approach and avoidance behavior. Neuropsychological research has identified: (a) two avoidance systems, one related to pure active avoidance and escape, and one to passive avoidance and behavioral inhibition produced by goal‐co...
Article
BACKGROUND: Syndromes of fear/anxiety are currently ill-defined, with no accepted human biomarkers for anxiety-specific processes. A unique common neural action of different classes of anxiolytic drugs may provide such a biomarker. In rodents, a reduction in low frequency (4-12Hz; "theta") brain rhythmicity is produced by all anxiolytics (even thos...
Article
Many personality theories link specific traits to the sensitivities of the neural systems that control approach and avoidance. But there is no consensus on the nature of these systems. Here we combine recent advances in economics and neuroscience to provide a more solid foundation for a neuroscience of approach/avoidance personality. We propose a t...
Article
Bilateral vestibular lesions cause atrophy of the hippocampus in humans and subsequent deficits in spatial memory and the processing of emotional stimuli in both rats and humans. Vestibular lesions also impair hippocampal theta rhythm in rats. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether restoring theta rhythm to the hippocampus of a rat...
Article
Previous studies have shown only modest effects of supramammillary nucleus (SuM) dysfunction on theta frequency and learning in the water maze (WM), with larger effects in other tasks. However, theta recorded from SuM, and used to trigger the production of theta-like oscillations in the hippocampus, produced reversal of the deficit in WM learning p...
Article
Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory postulates personality factors of ‘reward sensitivity’ and ‘punishment sensitivity’ linked to neural systems that control approach and avoidance, respectively. In contrast, behavioural economics distinguishes gain (‘reward’) and loss (‘punishment’) valuation systems that are orthogonal to approach/avoidance behaviou...
Article
Full-text available
The medial right frontal cortex is implicated in fast stopping of an initiated motor action in the stop-signal task (SST). To assess whether this region is also involved in the slower behavioural inhibition induced by goal conflict, we tested for effects of goal conflict (when stop and go tendencies are balanced) on low-frequency rhythms in the SST...