Face processing impairments after encephalitis: amygdala damage and recognition of fear

P Broks*, AW Young, EJ Maratos, PJ Coffey, AJ Calder, CL Isaac, AR Mayes, J. R. Hodges, D Montaldi, E Cezayirli, N Roberts, D Hadley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Face processing and facial emotion recognition were investigated in five post-encephalitic people of average or above-average intelligence. Four of these people (JC, YW, RB and SE) had extensive damage in the region of the amygdala. A fifth postencephalitic person with predominantly hippocampal damage and relative sparing of the amygdala (RS) participated, allowing us to contrast the effects of temporal lobe damage including and excluding the amygdala region. The findings showed impaired recognition of fear following bilateral temporal lobe damage when this included the amygdala. For JC, this was part of a constellation of deficits on face processing tasks, with impaired recognition of several emotions. SE, YW and RB, however, showed relatively circumscribed deficits. Although they all had some problems in recognizing or naming famous faces, and had poor memory for faces on the Warrington Recognition Memory Test, none showed a significant impairment on the Benton Test of Facial Recognition, indicating relatively good perception of the face's physical structure. In a test of recognition of basic emotions (happiness, surprise, fear, sadness, disgust and anger), SE, YW and RB achieved normal levels of performance in comparison to our control group for all emotions except fear. Their results contrast with those of RS, with relative sparing of the amygdala region and unimpaired recognition of emotion, pointing clearly toward the importance of the amygdala in the recognition of fear. (C) 1998 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-70
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1998

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • basic emotions
  • temporal lobes
  • amygdala
  • hippocampus
  • fear


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