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Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2010 Dec;5(4):424-31. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsq009. Epub 2010 Feb 11.

Amygdala volume correlates positively with fearfulness in normal healthy girls.

Author information

1
University of Iowa Neuroscience Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, 200 Hawkins Drive, W285 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA. ellen-vanderplas@uiowa.edu

Abstract

Research into the neural underpinnings of fear and fear-related pathology has highlighted the role of the amygdala. For instance, bilateral damage to the amygdaloid complex is associated with decreased appreciation of danger and recognition of fear in humans, whereas enlarged amygdala volume is associated with internalizing syndromes. It is unknown whether amygdala volume and fearfulness are related in the absence of pathology. We examined the correlation between normal fearfulness and amygdala morphology in 116 healthy children and adolescents (60 boys, 56 girls, age 7-17 years). Fearfulness was measured using the parent ratings on the Pediatric Behavior Scale and amygdala volumes were determined by manual tracing. We found a positive correlation between right amygdala volume in girls (r = 0.29). This relationship was more robust and present bilaterally when analyses were limited to girls with a positive nuclear family history of depression (for left r = 0.63; for right r = 0.58). In boys there was no significant relationship which may suggest that biological mechanisms differ between sexes. Given the role of enlarged amygdala volume in pathology, these findings may indicate that variation in amygdala morphology marks susceptibility to internalizing disorders.

PMID:
20150341
PMCID:
PMC2999759
DOI:
10.1093/scan/nsq009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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