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Neuroreport. 2002 Oct 7;13(14):1737-41.

Amygdalar activation associated with positive and negative facial expressions.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Stanford University, CA 94305, USA.


Most theories of amygdalar function have underscored its role in fear. One broader theory suggests that neuronal activation of the amygdala in response to fear-related stimuli represents only a portion of its more widespread role in modulating an organism's vigilance level. To further explore this theory, the amygdalar response to happy, sad, angry, fearful, and neutral faces in 17 subjects was characterized using 3 T fMRI. Utilizing a random effects model and hypothesis-driven analytic strategy, it was observed that each of the four emotional faces was associated with reliable bilateral activation of the amygdala compared with neutral. These findings suggest a broader role for the amygdala in modulating the vigilance level during the perception of several negative and positive facial emotions.

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