Impaired threat prioritisation after selective bilateral amygdala lesions

Article English OPEN
Bach, Dominik R. ; Hurlemann, Rene ; Dolan, Raymond J. (2015)
  • Publisher: Elsevier BV
  • Journal: Cortex, volume 63, pages 206-213 (issn: 0010-9452, eissn: 1973-8102)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC4317193, doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2014.08.017
  • Subject: Note | Facial expression | Serial search | Urbach–Wiethe | Clinical Neurology | Amygdala lesion, Facial expression, Fear, Serial search, Threat, Urbach–Wiethe | Threat | Amygdala lesion | Neurology | Fear

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.
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