Emotion and cognition: insights from studies of the human amygdala

Annu Rev Psychol. 2006:57:27-53. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.56.091103.070234.


Traditional approaches to the study of cognition emphasize an information-processing view that has generally excluded emotion. In contrast, the recent emergence of cognitive neuroscience as an inspiration for understanding human cognition has highlighted its interaction with emotion. This review explores insights into the relations between emotion and cognition that have resulted from studies of the human amygdala. Five topics are explored: emotional learning, emotion and memory, emotion's influence on attention and perception, processing emotion in social stimuli, and changing emotional responses. Investigations into the neural systems underlying human behavior demonstrate that the mechanisms of emotion and cognition are intertwined from early perception to reasoning. These findings suggest that the classic division between the study of emotion and cognition may be unrealistic and that an understanding of human cognition requires the consideration of emotion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Attention
  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Memory
  • Social Behavior