The Role of the Monkey Amygdala in the Autonomic Expression of Emotion
AuthorSpitler, Kevin M.
AdvisorGothard, Katalin M.
Committee ChairGothard, Katalin M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe skin conductance response is involved in the preparation for and response to stimuli with emotional significance. The neural mechanisms responsible for the generation of the skin conductance response are not well understood despite the common use of this signal as an index of emotional response. Data from anatomical, lesion, and neuroimaging studies in humans suggest that the amygdala, a component of the brain circuit for emotion, plays a critical role in the generation of the skin conductance response. Here we employ a novel combination of existing techniques to understand the stimuli that elicit skin conductance responses in the monkey and the neural mechanisms in the amygdala that participate in its generation. We recorded skin conductance responses in monkeys trained to perform a passive image viewing task. This paradigm is a staple of human emotion research but to date has not been adapted to the monkey. In addition, skin conductance responses to these stimuli were recorded in conjunction with single unit responses from the amygdala. This study addresses the relationship between the activity of single neurons recorded from identified nuclei of the monkey amygdala and autonomic responses. Neurons in multiple nuclei of the amygdala showed reliable changes in neuronal discharge prior to the skin conductance response. These neurons were primarily in the dorsal nuclei of the amygdala, which confirms predictions made from anatomical and neuroimaging data. It is suggested that these changes in neuronal discharge may correspond to the generation of this autonomic component of the expression of emotion.