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Fear and the human amygdala

Adolphs, Ralph and Tranel, Daniel and Damasio, Hanna and Damasio, Antonio R. (1995) Fear and the human amygdala. Journal of Neuroscience, 15 (9). pp. 5879-5891. ISSN 0270-6474. PMCID PMC6577662. doi:10.1523/jneurosci.15-09-05879.1995.

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We have previously reported that bilateral amygdala damage in humans compromises the recognition of fear in facial expressions while leaving intact recognition of face identity (Adolphs et al., 1994). The present study aims at examining questions motivated by this finding. We addressed the possibility that unilateral amygdala damage might be sufficient to impair recognition of emotional expressions. We also obtained further data on our subject with bilateral amygdala damage, in order to elucidate possible mechanisms that could account for the impaired recognition of expressions of fear. The results show that bilateral, but not unilateral, damage to the human amygdala impairs the processing of fearful facial expressions. This impairment appears to result from an insensitivity to the intensity of fear expressed by faces. We also confirmed a double dissociation between the recognition of facial expressions of fear, and the recognition of identity of a face: these two processes can be impaired independently, lending support to the idea that they are subserved in part by anatomically separate neural systems. Based on our data, and on what is known about the amygdala's connectivity, we propose that the amygdala is required to link visual representations of facial expressions, on the one hand, with representations that constitute the concept of fear, on the other. Preliminary data suggest the amygdala's role extends to both recognition and recall of fearful facial expressions.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Adolphs, Ralph0000-0002-8053-9692
Additional Information:© 1995 Society for Neuroscience. Received Feb. 8, 1995; revised Apr. 25, 1995; accepted Apr. 28, 1995. We thank all subjects for their participation. This study was supported by NINDS Grant NS 19632. R.A. is a Burroughs-Wellcome Fund Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Burroughs Wellcome FundUNSPECIFIED
Life Sciences Research FoundationUNSPECIFIED
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:amygdala, emotion, affect, fear, facial expression, social cognition
Issue or Number:9
PubMed Central ID:PMC6577662
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200127-090647022
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Fear and the human amygdala. R Adolphs, D Tranel, H Damasio, AR Damasio. Journal of Neuroscience 1 September 1995, 15 (9) 5879-5891; DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.15-09-05879.1995
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:100932
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:29 Jan 2020 00:27
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:57

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