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Published November 2010 | Accepted Version
Journal Article Open

Emotion processing and the amygdala: from a 'low road' to 'many roads' of evaluating biological significance


A subcortical pathway through the superior colliculus and pulvinar to the amygdala is commonly assumed to mediate the non-conscious processing of affective visual stimuli. We review anatomical and physiological data that argue against the notion that such a pathway plays a prominent part in processing affective visual stimuli in humans. Instead, we propose that the primary role of the amygdala in visual processing, like that of the pulvinar, is to coordinate the function of cortical networks during evaluation of the biological significance of affective visual stimuli. Under this revised framework, the cortex has a more important role in emotion processing than is traditionally assumed.

Additional Information

© 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited. The authors thank A. Anticevic, L. Oliveira, M. Pereira, R. Todd, and S. Wang for feedback on the manuscript. They also thank L. Barrett and two anonymous reviewers for comments. The authors' research is supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH071589 to L.P. and R01 MH080721 to R.A.), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (P01 NS019632 to R.A.), the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative and the National Science Foundation (NSF 0926,544).

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October 20, 2023