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Response and habituation of the amygdala during processing of emotional prosody

Wiethoff, Saraha b; Wildgruber, Dirka; Grodd, Wolfgangb; Ethofer, Thomasa b

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e328330eb83
Sensory and Motor Systems

The role of the amygdala in processing acoustic information of affective value is still under debate. Using event-related functional MRI (fMRI), we showed increased amygdalar responses to various emotions (anger, fear, happiness, eroticism) expressed by prosody, a means of communication bound to language and consequently unique to humans. The smallest signal increases were found for fearful prosody, a finding that could not be explained by rapid response habituation to stimuli of this emotional category, challenging classical theories about fear specificity of the human amygdala. Our results converge with earlier neuroimaging evidence investigating emotional vocalizations, and these neurobiological similarities suggest that the two forms of communication might have common evolutionary roots.

aClinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

bSection of Experimental MR of the CNS, Department of Neuroradiology, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany

Correspondence to Sarah Wiethoff, Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Tuebingen, Osianderstrasse 24, Tuebingen 72076, Germany

Tel: +49 7071 29 86543; fax: +49 7071 29 4141; e-mail: sarah.wiethoff@student.uni-tuebingen.de

Received 10 July 2009 accepted 16 July 2009

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.