New Findings about the Amygdala
It is interesting to find that the Amygdala has a more complex role than we thought in its' role of Fight, Flight and Freeze...
New research from the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas reveals that the amygdala may play a larger role in the brain’s ability to recognize faces than previously thought.
In a study published in Neuropsychologia, scientists found that the amygdala responded more specifically to faces than the fusiform face area (FFA), part of the brain traditionally known for facial recognition.
“The amygdala is a part of the brain associated with survival — fight or flight. It acts as a gateway regulating what we pay attention to,” said Dr. Daniel C. Krawczyk, deputy director of the Center for BrainHealth and associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. “We would expect the amygdala to be activated in the presence of scary or threatening faces — something that our brain might perceive as potentially impeding our survival. However, we were surprised to find how active the amygdala is in the presence of emotionally neutral faces.”
Numerous studies have revealed that the amygdala is critical for consciously and non-consciously processing facial expressions, and a smaller set of studies has revealed a role for the amygdala in assessing whether an individual appears to be trustworthy or not. The study, however, is the first to indicate that the amygdala actually responds more selectively to faces than the fusiform face area.
These findings lead us to believe that the amygdala may be getting a ‘preview’ before the brain’s primary visual cortex sends the signal to the fusiform face area.”