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Cortex. 2015 Feb;63:206-13. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2014.08.017. Epub 2014 Sep 10.

Impaired threat prioritisation after selective bilateral amygdala lesions.

Author information

1
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, UK; Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics, University of Zurich, Switzerland. Electronic address: dominik.bach@uzh.ch.
2
Department of Psychiatry, University of Bonn, Germany.
3
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, UK.

Abstract

The amygdala is proposed to process threat-related information in non-human animals. In humans, empirical evidence from lesion studies has provided the strongest evidence for a role in emotional face recognition and social judgement. Here we use a face-in-the-crowd (FITC) task which in healthy control individuals reveals prioritised threat processing, evident in faster serial search for angry compared to happy target faces. We investigate AM and BG, two individuals with bilateral amygdala lesions due to Urbach-Wiethe syndrome, and 16 control individuals. In lesion patients we show a reversal of a threat detection advantage indicating a profound impairment in prioritising threat information. This is the first direct demonstration that human amygdala lesions impair prioritisation of threatening faces, providing evidence that this structure has a causal role in responding to imminent danger.

KEYWORDS:

Amygdala lesion; Facial expression; Fear; Serial search; Threat; Urbach–Wiethe

PMID:
25282058
PMCID:
PMC4317193
DOI:
10.1016/j.cortex.2014.08.017
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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