Intact recognition of vocal expressions of fear following bilateral lesions of the human amygdala.


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Abstract

A recent case study found that bilateral damage to the amygdala impairs the normal appraisal of vocal expressions of fear. However, the single source of evidence for this auditory emotion-processing impairment is from a patient with extra-amygdaloid damage that may include the basal ganglia, which have been shown to be important for prosody evaluation. In this study we provide evidence of preserved evaluation of vocal expressions of fear in a female patient (S.P.) with bilateral damage to the amygdala but with intact basal ganglia. This same patient has previously been shown to be impaired in the evaluation of facial expressions, including fear. These results indicate that the analysis of nonverbal signals of fear from different input channels are dissociable, being at least partially dependent on different brain structures. We suggest that the amygdala, in conjunction with the basal ganglia, may support the normal appraisal of auditory signals of danger.

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