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Positive and negative emotional verbal stimuli elicit activity in the left amygdala

Hamann, Stephan; Mao, Hui1

Brain Imaging

The human amygdala's involvement in negative emotion is well established, but relatively little is known regarding its role in positive emotion. Here we examined the neural response to emotionally positive, negative, and neutral words using fMRI. Relative to neutral words, positive and negative emotional words elicited greater activity in the left amygdala. Positive but not negative words elicited activity in dorsal and ventral striatal regions which have been linked in previous neuroimaging studies to reward and positive affect, including caudate, putamen, globus pallidus, and accumbens. These findings provide the first direct evidence that the amygdala is involved in emotional reactions elicited by both positive and negative emotional words, and further indicate that positive words additionally activate brain regions related to reward.

Department of Psychology, 532 North Kilgo Circle, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA

1Department of Radiology, 532 North Kilgo Circle, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA

Corresponding Author: Stephan Hamann

Received 26 September 2001 accepted 5 November 2001

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.