Intact recognition of emotional prosody following amygdala damage

Neuropsychologia. 1999 Oct;37(11):1285-92. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(99)00023-8.


Bilateral damage to the amygdala in a variety of animal species can impair emotional reactions to stimuli in several sensory modalities. Such damage in humans impairs visual recognition of emotion in facial expressions, but possible impairments in modalities other than vision have not been sufficiently explored. We examined two subjects with complete bilateral amygdala damage, and seven with unilateral amygdala damage, on a standardized task of emotional prosody recognition. The data were compared to those from 15 brain-damaged and from 14 normal control subjects. One of the bilateral amygdala subjects, whose lesions were restricted to the amygdala, was entirely normal in recognizing emotion in prosody on all tasks, the other, whose damage included substantial lesions also in extra-amygdalar structures, especially in right hemisphere, was normal on most, albeit not all, measures of emotional prosody recognition. We suggest that the human amygdala's role in recognizing emotion in prosody may not be as critical as it is for facial expressions, and that extra-amygdalar structures in right hemisphere may be more important for recognizing emotional prosody. It remains possible that recognition of emotion in classes of auditory stimuli other than prosody will require the amygdala.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amygdala / injuries
  • Amygdala / physiopathology*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Speech Perception / physiology*
  • Voice Quality*