Intact rapid detection of fearful faces in the absence of the amygdala

Nat Neurosci. 2009 Oct;12(10):1224-5. doi: 10.1038/nn.2380. Epub 2009 Aug 30.


The amygdala is thought to process fear-related stimuli rapidly and nonconsciously. We found that an individual with complete bilateral amygdala lesions, who cannot recognize fear from faces, nonetheless showed normal rapid detection and nonconscious processing of those same fearful faces. We conclude that the amygdala is not essential for early stages of fear processing but, instead, modulates recognition and social judgment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / physiopathology*
  • Attention
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Face*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Fear* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Perceptual Masking / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Random Allocation
  • Reaction Time
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Time Factors