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Behav Brain Res. 1985 Apr;15(2):159-76.

Neurons in the amygdala of the monkey with responses selective for faces.


To investigate the functions of the amygdala in visual information processing and in emotional and social responses, recordings were made from single neurons in the amygdala of the monkey. A population of neurons (40 of more than 1000 recorded in 4 monkeys) was investigated which responded primarily to faces. These neurons typically (1) responded to some human or monkey faces, which were presented to the monkey through a large aperture shutter so that response latencies could be measured, or were simply shown to the monkey, (2) responded to 2-dimensional representations of these faces, as well as to real 3-dimensional faces, (3) had no responses or only small (less than half maximum) responses to gratings, simple geometrical, other complex 3-D stimuli, or to arousing and aversive stimuli, (4) had response latencies of 110-200 ms, (5) were located in the basal accessory nucleus of the amygdala, (6) responded differently to different faces, as shown by measures of d', and could thus over a population of such neurons code information useful for making different responses to different individuals, (7) could in some cases (9/11 tested) respond to parts of faces, and (8) in a few cases (4/19 tested) responded more to a face which produced an emotional response. A comparison made in three monkeys of the responses of these neurons with the responses of 77 neurons with face-selective responses recorded in the cortex of the superior temporal sulcus (STS) showed that the amygdaloid neurons had longer response latencies (110-200 compared to 90-140 ms), and were in some respects more selective in their responses to different faces. It is suggested that the deficits in social and emotional behavior produced by amygdala lesions could be due in part to damage to a neuronal system specialized in utilizing information from faces so that appropriate social and emotional responses can be made to different individuals.

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