Amygdala activation to sad pictures during high-field (4 tesla) functional magnetic resonance imaging

Lihong Wang, Gregory McCarthy, Allen W Song, Kevin S Labar
Emotion 2005, 5 (1): 12-22
Fear-related processing in the amygdala has been well documented, but its role in signaling other emotions remains controversial. The authors recovered signal loss in the amygdala at high-field strength using an inward spiral pulse sequence and probed its response to pictures varying in their degree of portrayed sadness. These pictures were presented as intermittent task-irrelevant distractors during a concurrent visual oddball task. Relative to neutral distractors, sad distractors elicited greater activation along ventral brain regions, including the amygdala, fusiform gyrus, and inferior frontal gyrus. In contrast, oddball targets engaged dorsal sectors of frontal, parietal, and cingulate cortices. The amygdala's role in emotional evaluation thus extends to images of grief and despair as well as to those depicting violence and threat.

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