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Fear and panic in humans with bilateral amygdala damage

Nature Neuroscience volume 16, pages 270272 (2013) | Download Citation

Abstract

Decades of research have highlighted the amygdala's influential role in fear. We found that inhalation of 35% CO2 evoked not only fear, but also panic attacks, in three rare patients with bilateral amygdala damage. These results indicate that the amygdala is not required for fear and panic, and make an important distinction between fear triggered by external threats from the environment versus fear triggered internally by CO2.

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Acknowledgements

We thank A. Wunsch for technical support and M. Coryell and J. Potash for critically reading this manuscript. C.B. was supported by a Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship. D.T. was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (P50 NS19632). J.A.W. was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs (Merit Award), the National Institutes of Mental Health (5RO1MH085724) and a McKnight Neuroscience of Brain Disorders Award. R.H. was supported by a Starting Independent Researcher Grant (NEMO—Neuromodulation of Emotion) jointly provided by the Ministry of Innovation, Science, Research and Technology of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MIWFT) and the University of Bonn. M.J.W. receives funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Author information

Author notes

    • Justin S Feinstein
    • , Colin Buzza
    •  & Rene Hurlemann

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Department of Neurology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.

    • Justin S Feinstein
    •  & Daniel Tranel
  2. Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.

    • Justin S Feinstein
    •  & Daniel Tranel
  3. Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.

    • Colin Buzza
    • , Rene Hurlemann
    • , Robin L Follmer
    • , William H Coryell
    •  & John A Wemmie
  4. Department of Psychiatry, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.

    • Rene Hurlemann
  5. Department of Neurosurgery, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.

    • Nader S Dahdaleh
    • , Michael J Welsh
    •  & John A Wemmie
  6. Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.

    • Michael J Welsh
  7. Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.

    • Michael J Welsh
    •  & John A Wemmie
  8. Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.

    • Michael J Welsh
    • , Daniel Tranel
    •  & John A Wemmie
  9. Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA.

    • Michael J Welsh
  10. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.

    • John A Wemmie

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Contributions

J.A.W., M.J.W., J.S.F., R.L.F., D.T., W.H.C. and N.S.D. conceived and planned the experiments. J.A.W., D.T., R.H. and W.H.C. provided financial support, equipment and supplies. J.A.W., C.B., J.S.F., R.L.F., R.H. and N.S.D. recruited participants and performed the experiments. J.A.W., C.B., M.J.W., J.S.F., R.H., D.T., R.L.F., W.H.C. and N.S.D. wrote and edited the manuscript and figures.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Daniel Tranel or John A Wemmie.

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    Supplementary Text and Figures

    Supplementary Figures 1–3, Supplementary Table 1, Supplementary Panic Descriptions

About this article

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3323

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