Amygdala responses to averted vs direct gaze fear vary as a function of presentation speed

Reginald B. Adams, Robert G. Franklin, Kestutis Kveraga, Nalini Ambady, Robert E. Kleck, Paul J. Whalen, Nouchine Hadjikhani, Anthony J. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


We examined whether amygdala responses to rapidly presented fear expressions are preferentially tuned to averted vs direct gaze fear and conversely whether responses to more sustained presentations are preferentially tuned to direct vs averted gaze fear. We conducted three functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies to test these predictions including: Study 1: a block design employing sustained presentations (1 s) of averted vs direct gaze fear expressions taken from the Pictures of Facial Affect; Study 2: a block design employing rapid presentations (300 ms) of these same stimuli and Study 3: a direct replication of these studies in the context of a single experiment using stimuli selected from the NimStim Emotional Face Stimuli. Together, these studies provide evidence consistent with an early, reflexive amygdala response tuned to clear threat and a later reflective response tuned to ambiguous threat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-577
Number of pages10
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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