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Sci Adv. 2015 Jun 12;1(5):e1400074. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1400074. eCollection 2015 Jun.

Testosterone biases the amygdala toward social threat approach.

Author information

1
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, 6500 GL Nijmegen, Netherlands. ; Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, 52074 Aachen, Germany. ; Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA)-Translational Brain Medicine, 52428/52074 Jülich/Aachen, Germany.
2
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, 6500 GL Nijmegen, Netherlands. ; Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, 6500 HE Nijmegen, Netherlands. ; Sobell Department for Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders, University College London, London WC1N 3BG, UK.
3
Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA.
4
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, 6500 GL Nijmegen, Netherlands.
5
Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, 6500 HE Nijmegen, Netherlands. ; Department of Clinical Psychology and Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden University, 2333 AK Leiden, Netherlands.
6
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, 6500 GL Nijmegen, Netherlands. ; Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, 6500 HE Nijmegen, Netherlands.
7
Department of Clinical Psychology and Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden University, 2333 AK Leiden, Netherlands.

Abstract

Testosterone enhances amygdala reactions to social threat, but it remains unclear whether this neuroendocrine mechanism is relevant for understanding its dominance-enhancing properties; namely, whether testosterone biases the human amygdala toward threat approach. This pharmacological functional magnetic-resonance imaging study shows that testosterone administration increases amygdala responses in healthy women during threat approach and decreases it during threat avoidance. These findings support and extend motivational salience models by offering a neuroendocrine mechanism of motivation-specific amygdala tuning.

KEYWORDS:

amygdala; approach-avoidance; motivational salience; social approach; testosterone

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