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The human amygdala parametrically encodes the intensity of specific facial emotions and their categorical ambiguity

Wang, Shuo and Yu, Rongjun and Tyszka, J. Michael and Zhen, Shanshan and Kovach, Christopher and Sun, Sai and Huang, Yi and Hurlemann, René and Ross, Ian B. and Chung, Jeffrey M. and Mamelak, Adam N. and Adolphs, Ralph and Rutishauser, Ueli (2017) The human amygdala parametrically encodes the intensity of specific facial emotions and their categorical ambiguity. Nature Communications, 8 . Art. No. 14821. ISSN 2041-1723. PMCID PMC5413952. doi:10.1038/ncomms14821.

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The human amygdala is a key structure for processing emotional facial expressions, but it remains unclear what aspects of emotion are processed. We investigated this question with three different approaches: behavioural analysis of 3 amygdala lesion patients, neuroimaging of 19 healthy adults, and single-neuron recordings in 9 neurosurgical patients. The lesion patients showed a shift in behavioural sensitivity to fear, and amygdala BOLD responses were modulated by both fear and emotion ambiguity (the uncertainty that a facial expression is categorized as fearful or happy). We found two populations of neurons, one whose response correlated with increasing degree of fear, or happiness, and a second whose response primarily decreased as a linear function of emotion ambiguity. Together, our results indicate that the human amygdala processes both the degree of emotion in facial expressions and the categorical ambiguity of the emotion shown and that these two aspects of amygdala processing can be most clearly distinguished at the level of single neurons.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Wang, Shuo0000-0003-2562-0225
Yu, Rongjun0000-0003-0123-1524
Tyszka, J. Michael0000-0001-9342-9014
Kovach, Christopher0000-0002-0117-151X
Hurlemann, René0000-0003-2628-565X
Mamelak, Adam N.0000-0002-4245-6431
Adolphs, Ralph0000-0002-8053-9692
Rutishauser, Ueli0000-0002-9207-7069
Additional Information:© 2017 The Author(s). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit Received 18 Jan 2016 | Accepted 6 Feb 2017 | Published 21 Apr 2017 We thank all patients for their participation and Farshad Moradi for providing the morphing algorithm. This research was supported by the Autism Science Foundation (to S.W.), the Simons Foundation (to R.A.), the Cedars-Sinai Department of Neurosurgery (to U.R.), an NSF CAREER award (1554105 to U.R.) and the NIMH Conte Center (P50MH094258 to R.A.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. Author Contributions: S.W., R.Y., R.A. and U.R. designed experiments; S.W., R.A. and U.R. wrote the paper. S.W., R.Y., J.M.T., S.Z., S.S., I.B.R., J.M.C., A.N.M. and U.R. performed research. S.W., R.Y., J.M.T., S.Z., C.K., Y.H. and U.R. analysed data. R.H. contributed two patients with amygdala lesions. All authors discussed the results and contributed toward the manuscript. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Group:Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Autism Science FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Simons FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Cedars-Sinai Medical CenterUNSPECIFIED
PubMed Central ID:PMC5413952
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170421-111743665
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Official Citation:Wang, S. et al. The human amygdala parametrically encodes the intensity of specific facial emotions and their categorical ambiguity. Nat. Commun. 8:14821 doi: 10.1038/ncomms14821 (2017).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:76818
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:21 Apr 2017 18:22
Last Modified:28 Mar 2022 22:08

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