Personal space regulation by the human amygdala

Nat Neurosci. 2009 Oct;12(10):1226-7. doi: 10.1038/nn.2381. Epub 2009 Aug 30.


The amygdala plays key roles in emotion and social cognition, but how this translates to face-to-face interactions involving real people remains unknown. We found that an individual with complete amygdala lesions lacked any sense of personal space. Furthermore, healthy individuals showed amygdala activation upon close personal proximity. The amygdala may be required to trigger the strong emotional reactions normally following personal space violations, thus regulating interpersonal distance in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amygdala / blood supply
  • Amygdala / physiopathology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult