Impaired recognition of emotion in facial expressions following bilateral damage to the human amygdala
STUDIES in animals have shown that the amygdala receives highly processed visual input1,2, contains neurons that respond selectively to faces3, and that it participates in emotion4,5 and social behaviour6. Although studies in epileptic patients support its role in emotion7, determination of the amygdala's function in humans has been hampered by the rarity of patients with selective amygdala lesions8. Here, with the help of one such rare patient, we report findings that suggest the human amygdala may be indispensable to: (1) recognize fear in facial expressions; (2) recognize multiple emotions in a single facial expression; but (3) is not required to recognize personal identity from faces. These results suggest that damage restricted to the amygdala causes very specific recognition impairments, and thus constrains the broad notion that the amygdala is involved in emotion.