Public Release: 

Multitasking amygdala neurons respond to sights, sounds, and touch

These cells may facilitate processing of multisensory social, emotional information

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: Figure 1B. Frontal view of the Loc-line hoses for tactile stimulation locations (green). All hoses were placed orthogonal to the surface of the skin at ~2 cm distance and directed... view more 

Credit: Morrow et al., JNeurosci (2019)

Individual neurons in the monkey amygdala that respond to touch also respond to imagery and sounds, according to new research published in JNeurosci. These cells may provide the building blocks needed to process multisensory social and emotional information.

Previous studies of the amygdala have identified populations of neurons responsive to different types of sensory information. To investigate the response of these neurons to randomly chosen visual, tactile, and auditory stimuli -- as animals might encounter in their natural environment -- Katalin Gothard and colleagues recorded the activity of single amygdala neurons from two male macaques. The researchers found most of the responsive cells they recorded across the amygdala responded to multiple types of stimuli, which could be differentiated by cellular firing rates.

As the stimuli were unfamiliar and lacked social or emotional significance to the monkeys, this finding suggests the amygdala processes neutral sensory information in addition to more meaningful information. The research also challenges assumptions that the amygdala responds mainly to visual stimuli.

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Article: Multisensory Neurons in the Primate Amygdala

DOI: https://www.jneurosci.org/lookup/doi/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2903-18.2019

Corresponding author: Katalin Gothard (University of Arizona, Tucson, USA), kmgothard@email.arizona.edu; Tel: +1 (520) 869-6045; Skype: katigothard1

Additional media contacts: Jeremiah Morrow (University of Arizona, Tucson, USA), jkmorrow@email.arizona.edu and Clayton Mosher (Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA), claytmosher@gmail.com

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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