Chewing stimulates the hippocampus – brain function for approach-avoidance conflict

Mastication or chewing stimulates the hippocampus and is necessary to maintain its normal function.

Role of Hippocampus in approach-avoidance conflict processing

Approach-avoidance conflict happens when a situation is presented that can either be rewarding or punishing, and the ensuing decision-making has been associated with anxiety.[66] fMRI findings from studies in approach-avoidance decision-making found evidence for a functional role that is not explained by either long-term memory or spatial cognition. Overall findings showed that the anterior hippocampus is sensitive to conflict, and that it may be part of a larger cortical and subcortical network seen to be important in decision making in uncertain conditions.[66]

A review makes reference to a number of studies that show the involvement of the hippocampus in conflict tasks. The authors suggest that a challenge is to understand how conflict processing relates to the functions of spatial navigation and memory and how all of these functions need not be mutually exclusive.[47]

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