Anteromedial temporal lobe damage blocks startle modulation by fear and disgust

Behav Neurosci. 2004 Apr;118(2):429-37. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.118.2.429.


The acoustic startle reflex (ASR) is potentiated during negative emotion, but attenuated during positive emotional experience. The modulation of the ASR by fear depends critically on the amygdala. The authors investigated ASR modulation to fearful, disgusting, pleasant, and neutral stimuli in 12 patients with unilateral damage to the anteromedial temporal lobe including the amygdala (6 left, 6 right), 1 patient with bilateral temporal lobe damage including the amygdala, and 12 comparison participants. Both groups with unilateral damage, as well as the subject with bilateral damage, showed a complete lack of ASR potentiation to both fear and disgust stimuli. The findings suggest that potentiation of the ASR by disgust and fear depends on the integrity of the anteromedial temporal lobe.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Amygdala / physiopathology*
  • Electromyography
  • Epilepsy / surgery
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neurosurgical Procedures
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology*
  • Temporal Lobe / surgery*