Emotion and Cognition: Insights from Studies of the Human Amygdala

Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, New York 10003, USA.
Annual Review of Psychology (Impact Factor: 21.81). 02/2006; 57(1):27-53. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.psych.56.091103.070234
Source: PubMed


Traditional approaches to the study of cognition emphasize an information-processing view that has generally excluded emotion. In contrast, the recent emergence of cognitive neuroscience as an inspiration for understanding human cognition has highlighted its interaction with emotion. This review explores insights into the relations between emotion and cognition that have resulted from studies of the human amygdala. Five topics are explored: emotional learning, emotion and memory, emotion's influence on attention and perception, processing emotion in social stimuli, and changing emotional responses. Investigations into the neural systems underlying human behavior demonstrate that the mechanisms of emotion and cognition are intertwined from early perception to reasoning. These findings suggest that the classic division between the study of emotion and cognition may be unrealistic and that an understanding of human cognition requires the consideration of emotion.

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    • "In a structural magnetic resonance imaging study, Ortiz-Mantilla and colleagues observed that infants with larger right amygdala at 6 months had lower expressive and receptive language scores at 2, 3 and 4 years of age (Ortiz-Mantilla, Choe, Flax, Grant & Benasich, 2010). The amygdalae are a pair of limbic system substructures located deep in the temporal lobes with putative primary functions including emotional reactions, memory, and decision making (Phelps, 2006). The uncinate fasciculi, bi-lateral fiber tracts from the ventral pathway of language neurobiology, connect the amygdalae and other limbic system structures to the orbitofrontal cortex (Colnat-Coulbois, Mok, Klein, P enicaud, Tanriverdi et al., 2010; Kier, Staib, Davis & Bronen, 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: The association between developmental trajectories of language-related white matter fiber pathways from 6 to 24 months of age and individual differences in language production at 24 months of age was investigated. The splenium of the corpus callosum, a fiber pathway projecting through the posterior hub of the default mode network to occipital visual areas, was examined as well as pathways implicated in language function in the mature brain, including the arcuate fasciculi, uncinate fasciculi, and inferior longitudinal fasciculi. The hypothesis that the development of neural circuitry supporting domain-general orienting skills would relate to later language performance was tested in a large sample of typically developing infants. The present study included 77 infants with diffusion weighted MRI scans at 6, 12 and 24 months and language assessment at 24 months. The rate of change in splenium development varied significantly as a function of language production, such that children with greater change in fractional anisotropy (FA) from 6 to 24 months produced more words at 24 months. Contrary to findings from older children and adults, significant associations between language production and FA in the arcuate, uncinate, or left inferior longitudinal fasciculi were not observed. The current study highlights the importance of tracing brain development trajectories from infancy to fully elucidate emerging brain–behavior associations while also emphasizing the role of the splenium as a key node in the structural network that supports the acquisition of spoken language.
    Developmental Science 10/2015; DOI:10.1111/desc.12360 · 3.89 Impact Factor
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    • "As such, the effect of arousal on memory performance reflects an inverted U-shaped curve with memory for events best when stress levels are moderate (Morley & Farr, 2012). Thus, while arousal may activate the amygdala (Adolphs , Tranel, & Buchanan, 2005; Phelps, 2006), higher levels of stress work to disrupt hippocampus function, impairing memory for sensory detail and visuospatial working memory (Shackman et al., 2006; for an extended version of this argument see Davis & Loftus, 2009). Furthermore, pharmacological research observes that stress hormones in the form of glococoricoids and catecholamines (adrenaline/nor-adrenaline), naturally released during stress (De Kloet et al., 1998), have variable effects on memory, depending on a number of modulatory factors (Lupien & Lepage, 2001; Wolf, 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Investigations after critical events often depend on accurate and detailed recall accounts from operational witnesses (e.g., law enforcement officers, military personnel, and emergency responders). However, the challenging, and often stressful, nature of such events, together with the cognitive demands imposed on operational witnesses as a function of their active role, may impair subsequent recall. We compared the recall performance of operational active witnesses with that of nonoperational observer witnesses for a challenging simulated scenario involving an armed perpetrator. Seventy-six police officers participated in pairs. In each pair, 1 officer (active witness) was armed and instructed to respond to the scenario as they would in an operational setting, while the other (observer witness) was instructed to simply observe the scenario. All officers then completed free reports and responded to closed questions. Active witnesses showed a pattern of heart rate activity consistent with an increased stress response during the event, and subsequently reported significantly fewer correct details about the critical phase of the scenario. The level of stress experienced during the scenario mediated the effect of officer role on memory performance. Across the sample, almost one-fifth of officers reported that the perpetrator had pointed a weapon at them although the weapon had remained in the waistband of the perpetrator's trousers throughout the critical phase of the encounter. These findings highlight the need for investigator awareness of both the impact of operational involvement and stress-related effects on memory for ostensibly salient details, and reflect the importance of careful and ethical information elicitation techniques. (PsycINFO Database Record
    Law and Human Behavior 10/2015; DOI:10.1037/lhb0000159 · 2.16 Impact Factor
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    • ", 2013 ) . Emotional stimuli receive privileged access to attention and awareness , and thus are more likely to capture one ' s attention ( Vuilleumier , 2005 ; Phelps , 2006 ) . In particular autobiographic memories lead to emotional responses and involve widespread functions of the brain ( Svoboda et al . "
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    ABSTRACT: The global cerebral network allows music " to do to us what it does. " While the same music can cause different emotions, the basic emotion of happy and sad songs can, nevertheless, be understood by most people. Consequently, the individual experience of music and its common effect on the human brain is a challenging subject for research. Various activities such as hearing, processing, and performing music provide us with different pictures of cerebral centers in PET. In comparison to these simple acts of experiencing music, the interaction and the therapeutic relationship between the patient and the therapist in Music Therapy (MT) provide us with an additional element in need of investigation. In the course of a pilot study, these problems were approached and reduced to the simple observation of pattern alteration in the brains of four individuals with Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome (UWS) during MT. Each patient had three PET investigations: (i) during a resting state, (ii) during the first exposure to MT, and (iii) during the last exposure to MT. Two patients in the MT group received MT for 5 weeks between the 2nd and the 3rd PET (three times a week), while two other patients in the control group had no MT in between. Tracer uptake was measured in the frontal, hippocampal, and cerebellar region of the brain. With certain differences in these three observed brain areas, the tracer uptake in the MT group was higher (34%) than in the control group after 5 weeks. The preliminary results suggest that MT activates the three brain regions described above. In this article, we present our approach to the neuroscience of MT and discuss the impact of our hypothesis on music therapy practice, neurological rehabilitation of individuals in UWS and additional neuroscientific research.
    Frontiers in Neurology 08/2015; 9(9:291). DOI:10.3389/fnins.2015.00291
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