fMRI reveals amygdala activation to human faces in social phobics

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FUNCTIONAL magnetic resonance imaging was used to determine the activation of the amygdala while seven social phobics and five healthy controls were exposed to slides of neutral faces as well as aversive odor stimuli. The amygdala was selectively activated in the social phobics during presentation of the face stimuli. The data show for the first time that the amygdala is active in human phobics when they are exposed to potentially fear-relevant stimuli. Further research is needed to determine the extent to which overactivation of the amygdala precedes or is a consequence of phobia.

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