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Journal Article

A Role for the Human Amygdala in Recognizing Emotional Arousal from Unpleasant Stimuli

Ralph Adolphs, James A. Russell and Daniel Tranel
Psychological Science
Vol. 10, No. 2 (Mar., 1999), pp. 167-171
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40063399
Page Count: 5
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A Role for the Human Amygdala in Recognizing Emotional Arousal from Unpleasant Stimuli
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Abstract

Functional neuroimaging and lesion-based neuropsychological experiments have demonstrated the human amygdala's role in recognition of certain emotions signaled by sensory stimuli, notably, fear and anger in facial expressions. We examined recognition of two emotional dimensions, arousal and valence, in a rare subject with complete, bilateral damage restricted to the amygdala. Recognition of emotional arousal was impaired for facial expressions, words, and sentences that depicted unpleasant emotions, especially in regard to fear and anger. However, recognition of emotional valence was normal. The findings suggest that the amygdala plays a critical role in knowledge concerning the arousal of negative emotions, a function that may explain the impaired recognition of fear and anger in patients with bilateral amygdala damage, and one that is consistent with the amygdala 's role in processing stimuli related to threat and danger.

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