Novelty responses and differential effects of order in the amygdala, substantia innominata, and inferior temporal cortex

Christopher I Wright, Brian Martis, Carl E Schwartz, Lisa M Shin, Håkan Fischer H, Katherine McMullin, Scott L Rauch
NeuroImage 2003, 18 (3): 660-9
Recent studies of amygdala function have focused on examining responses to emotionally valenced versus neutral stimuli. However, electrophysiologic and neuroimaging studies also suggest that novel neutral faces activate the amygdala, though few investigations have examined the effects of novelty and its relation to changes in stimulus condition. To further investigate how the human amygdala and related structures react to novel neutral faces and to stimulus condition changes, we evaluated human brain responses to blocks containing multiple novel and single repeated face stimuli, presented in two different orders, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Significantly increased signal was present in the amygdala, substantia innominata (SI), and inferior temporal cortex (ITC) to the contrast of multiple novel versus single faces. However, these regions differed in their responses based on whether a stimulus condition was presented 1st or 2nd, with the amygdala and SI having significantly different response profiles than the ITC. Specifically, greater responses to stimuli presented 2nd (i.e., after a condition change) were found in the amygdala and SI, but not in the ITC. Furthermore, the response difference to the Multiple versus Single contrast was greatest in the amygdala and SI, when single faces were presented 1st, and multiple faces presented 2nd, but this pattern was the reverse in the ITC. We speculate that the signal changes to neutral faces in the amygdala and SI with respect to condition (multiple or single faces) and stimulus order may relate to the involvement of these structures in novelty detection and the orienting response.

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