Beyond threat: amygdala reactivity across multiple expressions of facial affect.Neuroimage. 2006 May 01; 30(4):1441-8.N
The amygdala has been consistently isolated as a key neural substrate for processing facial displays of affect. Recent evidence from human lesion and functional neuroimaging studies have begun to challenge the notion that the amygdala is reserved for signals of threat (fear/anger). We performed a 4 T fMRI study in which 20 subjects viewed a contemporary set of photographs displaying 6 different facial expressions (fearful, disgusted, angry, sad, neutral, happy) while performing a task with minimal cognitive demand. Across subjects, the left amygdala was activated by each face condition separately, and its response was not selective for any particular emotion category. These results challenge the notion that the amygdala has a specialized role in processing certain emotions and suggest that the amygdala may have a more general-purpose function in processing salient information from faces.