Unimpaired discrimination of fearful prosody after amygdala lesion

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Prosody (i.e. speech melody) is an important cue to infer an interlocutor's emotional state, complementing information from face expression and body posture. Inferring fear from face expression is reported as impaired after amygdala lesions. It remains unclear whether this deficit is specific to face expression, or is a more global fear recognition deficit. Here, we report data from two twins with bilateral amygdala lesions due to Urbach-Wiethe syndrome and show they are unimpaired in a multinomial emotional prosody classification task. In a two-alternative forced choice task, they demonstrate increased ability to discriminate fearful and neutral prosody, the opposite of what would be expected under an hypothesis of a global role for the amygdala in fear recognition. Hence, we provide evidence that the amygdala is not required for recognition of fearful prosody.

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