Chapter 9: Emotion and Affective Neuroscience

9.4: Brain Structures have Multiple Functions

Although much affective neuroscience research has emphasized whole structures, such as the amygdala and nucleus accumbens, it is important to note that many of these structures are more accurately referred to as complexes. They include distinct groups of nuclei that perform different tasks. At present, human neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI are unable to examine the activity of individual nuclei in the way that invasive animal neuroscience can. For instance, the amygdala of the nonhuman primate can be divided into 13 nuclei and cortical areas (Freese & Amaral, 2009). These regions of the amygdala perform different functions. The central nucleus sends outputs involving brain stem areas that result in innate emotional expressions and associated physiological responses. The basal nucleus is connected with striatal areas that are involved with actions such as running toward safety. Furthermore, it is not possible to make one-to-one maps of emotions onto brain regions. For example, extensive research has examined the involvement of the amygdala in fear, but research has also shown that the amygdala is active during uncertainty (Whalen, 1998) as well as positive emotions (Anderson et al., 2003; Schulkin, 1990).


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Biological Psychology Copyright © 2024 by Michael J. Hove and Steven A. Martinez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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