Differential amygdala responses to happy and fearful facial expressions depend on selective attention

Williams, MA, McGlone, F, Abbott, DF and Mattingley, JB (2005) Differential amygdala responses to happy and fearful facial expressions depend on selective attention. Neuroimage, 24 2: 417-425. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.08.017

Author Williams, MA
McGlone, F
Abbott, DF
Mattingley, JB
Title Differential amygdala responses to happy and fearful facial expressions depend on selective attention
Journal name Neuroimage   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1053-8119
Publication date 2005-01-01
Year available 2005
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.08.017
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 24
Issue 2
Start page 417
End page 425
Total pages 9
Place of publication San Diego
Publisher Academic Press Inc Elsevier Science
Language eng
Abstract Facial expressions of emotion elicit increased activity in the human amygdala. Such increases are particularly evident for expressions that convey potential threat to the observer, and arise even when the face is masked from awareness. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine whether the amygdala responds differentially to threatening (fearful) versus nonthreatening (happy) facial expressions depending on whether the face is attended or actively ignored. In separate runs, participants were cued to attend to a face or a house within semitransparent, spatially overlaid composite pairs, presented either side of fixation, and were required to perform a demanding same/different judgment. We found significant attentional modulation of activity in category-specific 'face' (fusiform gyros) and 'place' (parahippocampal gyros) regions, with activity in each area increasing selectively when its preferred stimulus was attended versus ignored. In contrast, activity in the amygdala differed according to the valence of the facial expression and the category of the attended stimulus. For happy faces, activity in the amygdala was greater in the attend-face than in the attend-house condition, whereas for fearful faces, activity was greater in the attend-house than in the attend-face condition. We conclude that differential amygdala responses to fearful versus happy facial expressions are tuned by mechanisms of attention and that the amygdala gives preference to potentially threatening, stimuli under conditions of inattention. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keyword Neurosciences
Radiology, Nuclear Medicine & Medical Imaging
differential amygdala response
facial expressions
selective attention
Perceptual Load
Emotional Faces
Q-Index Code C1
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
Queensland Brain Institute Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 93 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 17 Oct 2007, 23:21:31 EST