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Abstract. We have previously reported that bilateral amygdala damage in humans compromises the recognition of fear in facial expressions.
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Visual, somatosensory, and auditory information is transmitted to the amygdala by a series of indirect, modality-specific thalamocorticoamygdalar pathways, as well as by direct thalamoamygdalar pathways Within the amygdaloid complex, information processing takes place along numerous highly organized parallel pathways with extensive intraamygdaloid connections The convergence of inputs in the lateral nucleus enables modulated stimulus representations to be summated 27 , Specific output pathways from the central nucleus and amygdalohippocampal area mediate complementary aspects of learning and behavioral expression connected with various emotional states The amygdala is thus well positioned to play a role in rapid cross-modal emotional recognition.

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In addition, anatomical studies of the primate amygdala demonstrate projections to virtually all levels of visual processing in the occipital and temporal cortex Therefore, the amygdala is also critically placed to modulate visual input, based on affective significance, at a variety of levels along the cortical visual-processing stream.

Left ventral lingual and fusiform gyrus activity has recently been described in association with the neural processing of visually presented words 30 and negatively valenced images In addition, although our study was not intended to engage memory, incidental encoding of episodic memory may well have occurred.

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Many studies have demonstrated greater incidental episodic memory for emotionally charged compared with neutral events 32 , 33 and words A recent PET study has shown that bilateral amygdalar activity during memory encoding correlated with enhanced episodic recognition memory for aversive visual stimuli Left parahippocampal activity has been described during semantic memory tasks 36 and also in long-term encoding Finally, the amygdala has strong connections to effector regions, including the hypothalamus, that are important for coordinating autonomic responses to complex environmental cues for conspecific survival as well as premotor and prefrontal areas that are necessary for rapid motor and behavioral responses to perceived threat 29 , Activation in the premotor region, in our study, may signify a preparatory component of the efferent network required for quick action to impending danger or perceived threat.

This study, therefore, provides a framework for understanding the role of the amygdala in enhanced, modality-specific afferent and efferent processing required for the rapid evaluation of and response to threat.

Linguistic threat activates the human amygdala

It further suggests conservation of phylogenetically older limbic mechanisms of emotional evaluation in the context of more recently evolved linguistic function. We thank our subjects for their cooperation. We only request your email address so that the person you are recommending the page to knows that you wanted them to see it, and that it is not junk mail.

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Skip to main content. Linguistic threat activates the human amygdala N. Leon , and E. PNAS August 31, 96 18 ; https: Abstract Studies in animals demonstrate a crucial role for the amygdala in emotional and social behavior, especially as related to fear and aggression. View inline View popup.

Fear and the human amygdala

Figure 1 Stimulus parameters and experimental design. Before scanning, color naming was assessed with 1 run of 10 trials of an incongruent classical Stroop interference task color naming of color words of differing color font with identical stimulus on-time and interstimulus interval to the scanning task. Figure 2 Selective response to processing of threat words. Table 2 Brain regions showing significant activation in comparison of processing of threat vs.

Figure 3 Selective response to processing of threat words. Acknowledgments We thank our subjects for their cooperation.

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    Responses to this article Respond to this article. No eLetters have been published for this article. It will interest a wide audience of researchers and trainees. This well-conceived volume is a tour de force that should be considered essential reading for any neuroscientist interested in behavior and any behavioral scientist interested in brain function.

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