Panic attacks in an individual with bilateral selective lesions of the amygdala

Arch Neurol. 2006 Dec;63(12):1798-801. doi: 10.1001/archneur.63.12.1798.


Objective: To describe the unique case of a patient with panic attacks and bilateral selective amygdala lesions due to Urbach-Wiethe disease.

Design: Case report.

Setting: Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, Medical University of Vienna. Patient A 38-year-old man with Urbach-Wiethe disease developed spontaneous panic attacks and depressive mood, which ceased after antidepressive treatment.

Interventions: Video electroencephalography monitoring, magnetic resonance imaging, and neuropsychological testing.

Results: Extended video electroencephalography monitoring excluded an epileptic etiology of the panic attacks. Results of cranial magnetic resonance imaging showed bilateral selective calcifications of the whole amygdaloid complex. Neuropsychological testing revealed selective memory impairment of autobiographic episodes with preserved memory for autobiographic facts.

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that the occurrence of panic attacks does not critically depend on the integrity of the amygdala. Furthermore, the neuropsychological findings in our patient suggest that the amygdala represents an essential neural substrate for the processing of episodic autobiographic memories.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / pathology*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Calcinosis / complications*
  • Calcinosis / psychology
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / psychology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Hyaline Cartilage / abnormalities
  • Hyaline Cartilage / pathology
  • Lipoid Proteinosis of Urbach and Wiethe / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Panic Disorder / complications*
  • Panic Disorder / drug therapy
  • Panic Disorder / psychology
  • Personality Tests
  • Syndrome


  • Antidepressive Agents