A growing body of evidence from humans and other animals suggests the amygdala may be a critical neural substrate for emotional processing. In particular, recent studies have shown that damage to the human amygdala impairs the normal appraisal of social signals of emotion, primarily those of fear. However, effective social communication depends on both the ability to receive (emotional appraisal) and the ability to send (emotional expression) signals of emotional state. Although the role of the amygdala in the appraisal of emotion is well established, its importance for the production of emotional expressions is unknown. We report a case study of a patient with bilateral amygdaloid damage who, despite a severe deficit in interpreting facial expressions of emotion including fear, exhibits an intact ability to express this and other basic emotions. This dissociation suggests that a single neural module does not support all aspects of the social communication of emotional state.
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