Amygdalar lateralization in fear conditioning: evidence for greater involvement of the right amygdala

Behav Neurosci. 2004 Feb;118(1):15-23. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.118.1.15.


The relative contribution of left and right amygdalae in the acquisition and retention of fear conditioning was investigated in rats. Pretraining bilateral electrolytic lesions blocked the acquisition of conditioned fear to tone and context, whereas unilateral lesions induced partial impairments with no left-right amygdala differences. In contrast, posttraining bilateral and unilateral lesions produced significant deficits in the retention of conditioned fear to tone and context. Although no left-right difference was observed to tone, the right amygdala lesions generated greater deficits in contextual fear than the left amygdala lesions. These results indicate that fear conditioning is partially disrupted with unilateral amygdalar lesions, but that the right amygdala has greater involvement than the left amygdala when conditioning occurs under a normal brain state.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans