Human Primary Olfactory Amygdala Subregions Form Distinct Functional Networks, Suggesting Distinct Olfactory Functions

Torben Noto*, Guangyu Zhou, Qiaohan Yang, Gregory Lane, Christina Zelano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Three subregions of the amygdala receive monosynaptic projections from the olfactory bulb, making them part of the primary olfactory cortex. These primary olfactory areas are located at the anterior-medial aspect of the amygdala and include the medial amygdala (MeA), cortical amygdala (CoA), and the periamygdaloid complex (PAC). The vast majority of research on the amygdala has focused on the larger basolateral and basomedial subregions, which are known to be involved in implicit learning, threat responses, and emotion. Fewer studies have focused on the MeA, CoA, and PAC, with most conducted in rodents. Therefore, our understanding of the functions of these amygdala subregions is limited, particularly in humans. Here, we first conducted a review of existing literature on the MeA, CoA, and PAC. We then used resting-state fMRI and unbiased k-means clustering techniques to show that the anatomical boundaries of human MeA, CoA, and PAC accurately parcellate based on their whole-brain resting connectivity patterns alone, suggesting that their functional networks are distinct, relative both to each other and to the amygdala subregions that do not receive input from the olfactory bulb. Finally, considering that distinct functional networks are suggestive of distinct functions, we examined the whole-brain resting network of each subregion and speculated on potential roles that each region may play in olfactory processing. Based on these analyses, we speculate that the MeA could potentially be involved in the generation of rapid motor responses to olfactory stimuli (including fight/flight), particularly in approach/avoid contexts. The CoA could potentially be involved in olfactory-related reward processing, including learning and memory of approach/avoid responses. The PAC could potentially be involved in the multisensory integration of olfactory information with other sensory systems. These speculations can be used to form the basis of future studies aimed at clarifying the olfactory functions of these under-studied primary olfactory areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number752320
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
StatePublished - Dec 9 2021


  • amygdala
  • cortical amygdala
  • fMRI
  • medial amygdala
  • olfaction
  • periamygdaloid complex
  • resting connectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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