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Abstract #1695

Diverting Attention Suppresses Human Amygdala Responses to Faces

Carmen Morawetz1,2, Juergen Baudewig1, Stefan Treue2,3, Peter Dechent1

1MR-Research in Neurology & Psychiatry, Medical Faculty, Georg August University, Goettingen, Germany; 2Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, German Primate Center, Goettingen, Germany; 3Bernstein Center of Computational Neuroscience, Goettingen, Germany

Here we investigated the effects of high/low attentional load and different stimulus locations on face processing in the amygdala using fMRI. The display presented a rapid stream of letters and digits in each visual field quadrant and pairs of faces at one of three eccentricities. Participants had to either attend to the streams performing tasks of high/low attentional load or to the faces matching their gender/expression. The results revealed a strong attenuation of amygdala activity when the attentional load was high indicating that the processing of emotional stimuli in the amygdala is strongly dependent on the availability of attentional resources.