Amygdala activation as a marker for selective attention toward neutral faces in a chronic traumatic brain injury population

Leanne R. Young, Weikei Yu, Michael Holloway, Barry N. Rodgers, Sandra B. Chapman, Daniel C. Krawczyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


There has been great interest in characterizing the response of the amygdala to emotional faces, especially in the context of social cognition. Although amygdala activation is most often associated with fearful or angry stimuli, there is considerable evidence that the response of the amygdala to neutral faces is both robust and reliable. This characteristic of amygdala function is of particular interest in the context of assessing populations with executive function deficits, such as traumatic brain injuries, which can be evaluated using fMRI attention modulation tasks that evaluate prefrontal control over representations, notably faces. The current study tested the hypothesis that the amygdala may serve as a marker of selective attention to neutral faces. Using fMRI, we gathered data within a chronic traumatic brain injury population. Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent (BOLD) signal change within the left and right amygdalae and fusiform face areas was measured while participants viewed neutral faces and scenes, under conditions requiring participants to (1) categorize pictures of faces and scenes, (2) selectively attend to either faces or scenes, or (3) attend to both faces and scenes. Findings revealed that the amygdala is an effective marker for selective attention to neutral faces and, furthermore, it was more face-specific than the fusiform face area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-222
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Amygdala
  • Face perception
  • Selective attention
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Amygdala activation as a marker for selective attention toward neutral faces in a chronic traumatic brain injury population'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this