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Hum Brain Mapp. 2009 Oct;30(10):3332-8. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20755.

Selective processing of social stimuli in the superficial amygdala.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry & Neuropsychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht 6200AB, The Netherlands.


The human amygdala plays a pivotal role in the processing of socially significant information. Anatomical studies show that the human amygdala is not a single homogeneous structure but is composed of segregable subregions. These have recently been functionally delineated by using a combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and cytoarchitectonically defined probabilistic maps. However, the response characteristics and individual contribution of these subregions to the processing of social-emotional stimuli are little understood. Here, we used this novel technique to segregate intra-amygdalar responses to facial expressions and nonsocial control stimuli. We localized facial expression-evoked signal changes bilaterally in the superficial amygdala, which suggests that this subregion selectively extracts the social value of incoming sensory information.

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