Clinical and physiological effects of stereotaxic bilateral amygdalotomy for intractable aggression

J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 1998 Fall;10(4):413-20. doi: 10.1176/jnp.10.4.413.


The amygdala is thought to be an important neural structure underlying the "fight-or-flight" response, but information on its role in humans is scarce. The clinical and psychophysiological effects of amygdalar destruction were studied in 2 patients who underwent bilateral amygdalotomy for intractable aggression. After surgery, both patients showed a reduction in autonomic arousal levels to stressful stimuli and in the number of aggressive outbursts, although both patients continued to have difficulty controlling aggression. The "taming effect" reported after bilateral amygdalar destruction may be due to the amygdala's inadequate processing of perceived threat stimuli that would normally produce a fight-or-flight response.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Amygdala / pathology
  • Amygdala / surgery*
  • Drug Resistance
  • Electromyography
  • Galvanic Skin Response
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / surgery*
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Neuropsychological Tests