Response and habituation of the human amygdala during visual processing of facial expression

Hans C. Breiter*, Nancy L. Etcoff, Paul J. Whalen, William A. Kennedy, Scott L. Rauch, Randy L. Buckner, Monica M. Strauss, Steven E. Hyman, Bruce R. Rosen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1326 Scopus citations


We measured amygdala activity in human volunteers during rapid visual presentations of fearful, happy, and neutral faces using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The first experiment involved a fixed order of conditions both within and across runs, while the second one used a fully counterbalanced order in addition to a low level baseline of simple visual stimuli. In both experiments, the amygdala was preferentially activated in response to fearful versus neutral faces. In the counterbalanced experiment, the amygdala also responded preferentially to happy versus neutral faces, suggesting a possible generalized response to emotionally valanced stimuli. Rapid habituation effects were prominent in both experiments. Thus, the human amygdala responds preferentially to emotionally valanced faces and rapidly habituates to them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-887
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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