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Intact rapid detection of fearful faces in the absence of the amygdala


The amygdala is thought to process fear-related stimuli rapidly and nonconsciously. We found that an individual with complete bilateral amygdala lesions, who cannot recognize fear from faces, nonetheless showed normal rapid detection and nonconscious processing of those same fearful faces. We conclude that the amygdala is not essential for early stages of fear processing but, instead, modulates recognition and social judgment.

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Figure 1: Intact rapid, automatic and nonconscious detection of fearful faces in the absence of the amygdala.

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We thank C. Holcomb for help with recruiting and testing subjects. This work was funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the Simons Foundation to R.A. and was supported, in part, by Tamagawa University global Center of Excellence program of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology. N.T. is supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

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Authors and Affiliations



N.T., F.M. and R.A. designed the study and wrote the paper. N.T. and F.M. executed most of the study and analyzed all of the data. C.F. and M.Y. helped with aspects of the data collection.

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Correspondence to Naotsugu Tsuchiya.

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Supplementary Figures 1–4, Supplementary Table 1 and Supplementary Methods (PDF 276 kb)

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Tsuchiya, N., Moradi, F., Felsen, C. et al. Intact rapid detection of fearful faces in the absence of the amygdala. Nat Neurosci 12, 1224–1225 (2009).

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