New research from the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas reveals that the amygdala may play a larger role in the brain’s ability to recognize faces than previously thought.
In a study published in Neuropsychologia, scientists found that the amygdala responded more specifically to faces than the fusiform face area (FFA), part of the brain traditionally known for facial recognition.
“The amygdala is a part of the brain associated with survival—fight or flight. It acts as a gateway regulating what we pay attention to,” said Dr. Daniel C. Krawczyk, deputy director of the Center for BrainHealth and associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. “We would expect the amygdala to be activated in the presence of scary or threatening faces—something that our brain might perceive as potentially impeding our survival. However, we were surprised to find how active the amygdala is in the presence of emotionally neutral faces.”
The research included 69 participants, between 19 and 65 years old, who had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) at least six months beforehand. More than half of the participants had some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Published on Medical Xpress February 12, 2018