Asymmetric engagement of amygdala and its gamma connectivity in early emotional face processing

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The amygdala has been regarded as a key substrate for emotion processing. However, the engagement of the left and right amygdala during the early perceptual processing of different emotional faces remains unclear. We investigated the temporal profiles of oscillatory gamma activity in the amygdala and effective connectivity of the amygdala with the thalamus and cortical areas during implicit emotion-perceptual tasks using event-related magnetoencephalography (MEG). We found that within 100 ms after stimulus onset the right amygdala habituated to emotional faces rapidly (with duration around 20-30 ms), whereas activity in the left amygdala (with duration around 50-60 ms) sustained longer than that in the right. Our data suggest that the right amygdala could be linked to autonomic arousal generated by facial emotions and the left amygdala might be involved in decoding or evaluating expressive faces in the early perceptual emotion processing. The results of effective connectivity provide evidence that only negative emotional processing engages both cortical and subcortical pathways connected to the right amygdala, representing its evolutional significance (survival). These findings demonstrate the asymmetric engagement of bilateral amygdala in emotional face processing as well as the capability of MEG for assessing tha-lamo-cortico-limbic circuitry.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0115677
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
StatePublished - 28 Jan 2015


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