An amygdala response to fearful faces with covered eyes

Neuropsychologia. 2008;46(9):2364-70. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.03.015. Epub 2008 Apr 1.

Abstract

Findings of amygdala responsiveness to the eye region of fearful faces raise the question of whether eye widening is the only facial cue involved. We used fMRI to investigate the differential amygdala response to fearful versus neutral stimuli for faces, eyes, and for faces in which the eye region was masked. For maximum sensitivity, a block design was used, with a region of interest (ROI) centred on the amygdala which included peri-amygdalar areas. Evidence of amygdala responsiveness to fear compared to neutral stimuli was found for whole faces, eye region only, and for faces with masked eyes. The amygdala can therefore use information from facial regions other than the eyes, allowing it to respond differentially to fearful compared to neutral faces even when the eye region is hidden.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Eye*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Fear / physiology*
  • Fear / psychology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mouth
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology