Aversive learning in patients with unilateral lesions of the amygdala and hippocampus

Martin Peper, Steffanie Karcher, Rainer Wohlfarth, Georg Reinshagen, Joseph E. LeDoux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study applied a visual half field paradigm with emotional facial expressions in patients with selective unilateral amygdalo-hippocampectomy (AHE) to elucidate the contributions of the left and right medial temporal lobe and amygdala to emotional learning. Electrodermal indicators of aversive learning were studied in 14 left AHE and 12 right AHE patients, as well as 13 controls matched in sex and age. In a differential conditioning paradigm with negative (CS+) and positive (CS-) facial expressions, CS+ were associated with an aversive vocalization (US, 95 dB, 3 s). During extinction, stimuli were presented laterally and preattentively using backward masking. Appropriate CS durations yielding preattentive presentation were individually determined prior to conditioning. In contrast to controls, both left and right AHE patients failed to show an autonomic conditioning effect following left visual field presentations of masked negative CS+ during extinction. AHE patients also showed no clear differential acquisition. Moreover, right AHE patients poorly recognised that negative valence was an affiliating dimension of the CS-US compound.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2001


  • Amygdala
  • Aversive learning
  • Conditioning
  • Emotion
  • Facial expression
  • Hippocampus
  • Lesion method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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