Impaired recognition of anger following damage to the ventral striatum

Brain. 2004 Sep;127(Pt 9):1958-69. doi: 10.1093/brain/awh214. Epub 2004 Aug 2.


Comparative neuropsychology has identified a role for the ventral striatum (VS) in certain forms of aggression. To address whether the homologous region in humans also contributes to the emotion anger, we studied a case series of four human subjects with focal lesions affecting the VS. All four demonstrated a disproportionate impairment in recognizing human signals of aggression. By contrast, a control group of individuals with damage to more dorsal basal ganglia (BG) regions showed no evidence of an anger impairment. Our findings demonstrate that the VS makes a significant contribution to coding signals of aggression in humans, and emphasize the importance of an approach to human affective neuroscience based on cross-species homologies. The results are discussed in relation to the ventral striatal dopamine system's role in the pursuit of biological resources in general. We propose that the role of the VS in the recognition of human signals of anger may reflect a more general role in the coordination of behaviour relevant to the acquisition and protection of valued resources, including detection of signals of conspecific challenge (anger).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression / physiology
  • Anger / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Basal Ganglia / injuries*
  • Basal Ganglia / physiopathology
  • Facial Expression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychological Tests
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Voice / physiology