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Impaired recognition of emotion in facial expressions following bilateral damage to the human amygdala

Nature volume 372, pages 669672 (15 December 1994) | Download Citation

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Abstract

STUDIES in animals have shown that the amygdala receives highly processed visual input1,2, contains neurons that respond selectively to faces3, and that it participates in emotion4,5 and social behaviour6. Although studies in epileptic patients support its role in emotion7, determination of the amygdala's function in humans has been hampered by the rarity of patients with selective amygdala lesions8. Here, with the help of one such rare patient, we report findings that suggest the human amygdala may be indispensable to: (1) recognize fear in facial expressions; (2) recognize multiple emotions in a single facial expression; but (3) is not required to recognize personal identity from faces. These results suggest that damage restricted to the amygdala causes very specific recognition impairments, and thus constrains the broad notion that the amygdala is involved in emotion.

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Affiliations

  1. Department of Neurology, Division of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA

    • R. Adolphs
    • , D. Tranel
    • , H. Damasio
    •  & A. Damasio
  2. The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California 92186, USA

    • H. Damasio
    •  & A. Damasio

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https://doi.org/10.1038/372669a0

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