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Discriminating emotional faces without primary visual cortices involves the right amygdala

Nature Neuroscience volume 8, pages 2425 (2005) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Destruction of the brain's primary visual areas leads to blindness of cortical origin. Here we report on a subject who, after bilateral destruction of his visual cortices and ensuing cortical blindness, could nevertheless correctly guess the type of emotional facial expression being displayed, but could not guess other types of emotional or non-emotional stimuli. Functional magnetic resonance imaging showed activation of the right amygdala during the unconscious processing of emotionally expressive faces.

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Acknowledgements

We thank F. Bernasconi and E. Monbaron for providing us with the patient's neuropsychological examination, R. Rafal and P. Vuilleumier for helpful comments on the manuscript and J. Intriligator for methodological assistance. This investigation was supported by the Swiss National Foundation for Scientific Research (grants 3100-056782/99, 3151AO-102271/1 and 3200BO-100717/1).

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, School of Psychology, University of Wales Bangor, Penrallt Road, Gwynedd LL57 2AS, UK.

    • Alan J Pegna
  2. Neuropsychology Unit, Neurology Clinic, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Dermatology, Geneva University Hospital, Rue Micheli-du-Crest 24, CH-1211 Geneva 14, Switzerland.

    • Alan J Pegna
    •  & Asaid Khateb
  3. Department of Radiology, Geneva University Hospital, Rue Micheli-du-Crest 24, CH-1211 Geneva 14, Switzerland.

    • Francois Lazeyras
    •  & Mohamed L Seghier
  4. Laboratory of Neurology and Neuroimaging of Cognition, Department of Fundamental Neuroscience, University Medical Center, Rue Michel-Servet 1, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland.

    • Mohamed L Seghier

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alan J Pegna.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1364