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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Jul 31;115(31):8043-8048. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1807245115. Epub 2018 Jul 16.

Amygdala lesions eliminate viewing preferences for faces in rhesus monkeys.

Author information

1
Section on Neurocircuitry, Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, The National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892; jessica.taubert@nih.gov ungerlel@mail.nih.gov.
2
Section on Neurocircuitry, Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, The National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.
3
Section on Learning and Plasticity, Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, The National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.
4
Section on Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, Laboratory of Neuropsychology, The National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.
5
Section on Cognitive Neurophysiology and Imaging, Laboratory of Neuropsychology, The National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.

Abstract

In free-viewing experiments, primates orient preferentially toward faces and face-like stimuli. To investigate the neural basis of this behavior, we measured the spontaneous viewing preferences of monkeys with selective bilateral amygdala lesions. The results revealed that when faces and nonface objects were presented simultaneously, monkeys with amygdala lesions had no viewing preference for either conspecific faces or illusory facial features in everyday objects. Instead of directing eye movements toward socially relevant features in natural images, we found that, after amygdala loss, monkeys are biased toward features with increased low-level salience. We conclude that the amygdala has a role in our earliest specialized response to faces, a behavior thought to be a precursor for efficient social communication and essential for the development of face-selective cortex.

KEYWORDS:

face perception; neurocircuitry; social development; spontaneous behavior; visual salience

PMID:
30012600
PMCID:
PMC6077752
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1807245115
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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