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Scientific article
English

A fast pathway for fear in human amygdala

Published inNature Neuroscience, vol. 19, no. 8, p. 1041-1049
Publication date2016
Abstract

A fast, subcortical pathway to the amygdala is thought to have evolved to enable rapid detection of threat. This pathway's existence is fundamental for understanding nonconscious emotional responses, but has been challenged as a result of a lack of evidence for short-latency fear-related responses in primate amygdala, including humans. We recorded human intracranial electrophysiological data and found fast amygdala responses, beginning 74-ms post-stimulus onset, to fearful, but not neutral or happy, facial expressions. These responses had considerably shorter latency than fear responses that we observed in visual cortex. Notably, fast amygdala responses were limited to low spatial frequency components of fearful faces, as predicted by magnocellular inputs to amygdala. Furthermore, fast amygdala responses were not evoked by photographs of arousing scenes, which is indicative of selective early reactivity to socially relevant visual information conveyed by fearful faces. These data therefore support the existence of a phylogenetically old subcortical pathway providing fast, but coarse, threat-related signals to human amygdala.

Keywords
  • Adult
  • Amygdala/physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Face/physiology
  • Facial Expression
  • Fear/physiology
  • Female
  • Happiness
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
  • Male
  • Reaction Time/physiology
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Visual Cortex/physiology
Citation (ISO format)
MÉNDEZ-BÉRTOLO, Constantino et al. A fast pathway for fear in human amygdala. In: Nature Neuroscience, 2016, vol. 19, n° 8, p. 1041–1049. doi: 10.1038/nn.4324
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Article (Published version)
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ISSN of the journal1097-6256
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