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Aversive auditory stimuli activate the human amygdala

Aversive auditory stimuli activate the human amygdala

Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 26(1-2): Abstract No -403 4

Previous neuroimaging studies indicate that the human amygdala activates during exposure to aversive visual, olfactory and gustatory stimuli. In order to examine whether unpleasant auditory stimuli similarly induce activation of the amygdala, we exposed healthy human subjects to aversive sounds while regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) was assayed with O-15 PET. Six subjects, all of whom described themselves as reactive to unpleasant sounds, participated in the study. The aversive sound condition consisted of a collage of environmental sounds (e.g., nails scratching, metal scraping, Styrofoam squeaking, a dentist drill) presented in headphones at a non-painful volume. Subjects consistently described the sounds as extremely aversive. White noise served as a control condition. rCBF was estimated with an ECAT 953B camera in 3D mode, with a 60-s scan acquisition. Relative to white noise, the aversive sounds produced significant rCBF increases in the lateral amygdala/claustrum region, the dorsal brainstem, ventral striatum, putamen and right auditory association cortices. These data indicate that the human amygdala activates in response to aversive auditory stimuli. Taken together with previous studies, this finding suggests that the human amygdala plays a similar role in evaluating and directing responses to aversive stimuli across multiple sensory modalities.

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