ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2013, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (6): 1020-1027.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2013.01020

• Special Section of Physiological Psychology • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Emotional Processing in the Amygdala: Integration of Automatic Process and Attentional Modulation

DU Yi;WU Xihong;LI Liang   

  1. (Department of Psychology, Speech and Hearing Research Center, Key Laboratory on Machine Perception (Ministry of Education), PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Peking University, Beijing 100871, CHINA)
  • Received:2013-01-22 Online:2013-06-15 Published:2013-06-15
  • Contact: LI Liang

Abstract: Given the flooding environmental information entering the cognitive system, together with its processing capacity limitations, a critical function shared by both attentional and emotional processes is to prioritize the processing of pertinent events. Although it is generally accepted that emotional stimuli can capture and affect the allocation of attentional resource, whether the processing of emotional stimuli is automatic without attention and awareness or depends on available attentional resources and receives top-down modulation is a long-term debate. Recent neurophysiological recordings with high spatio-temporal resolution reconciled this controversy by demonstrating that responses to emotional stimuli in the amygdala, a critical sub-cortical structure in emotional processing, contained both an early and rapid automatic component which was not affected by attentional and cognitive load and a later component that received top-down attentional modulation from fronto-parietal cortices. This functional integration in the amygdala supports the dual-pathway model of emotional processing.

Key words: amygdala, emotion, attention, automatic processing