Is the Human Amygdala Specialized for Processing Social Information?



    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Neurology, Division of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA
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Address for correspondence: Ralph Adolphs, Department of Neurology, University Hospitals and Clinics, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA. Voice: 319-353-8610; fax: 319-353-6277.


Abstract: A number of studies in humans and other animals has confirmed the amygdala's role in modulating cognition and behavior on the basis of a stimulus' motivational, emotional, and social atttributes. This raises the question of how these attributes are related: is social information processing reducible to motivational processing? Some recent data suggest the possibility that the amygdala's primitive function may be motivational processing that is domain-general, but that its function in primates, and especially humans, may have evolved to process social information specifically. While the issue is unresolved, future experiments could provide additional support.