Parallel amygdala and inferotemporal activation reflect emotional intensity and fear relevance

Neuroimage. 2005 Feb 15;24(4):1265-70. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.12.015. Epub 2005 Jan 7.


Much research demonstrates that emotional stimuli prompt increased amygdala and visual cortical activation. Here we measure functional activity in the visual cortex and amygdala with fMRI while selected fearful and control participants view a range of neutral, emotionally arousing, and fear-relevant pictures. BOLD signal in the amygdala and inferotemporal visual cortex closely covaried during emotional picture viewing, increasing systematically with rated picture arousal. Furthermore, fearful individuals reacting to specific fear cues show parallel, heightened activation in these two structures compared with non-fearful controls. The findings suggest an individually-sensitive, positive linear relationship between the arousing quality of visual stimuli and activation in amygdala and ventral visual cortex, supporting the hypothesized functional connectivity described in the animal model.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Cues
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*


  • Oxygen