The importance of cues signaling reward, threat or danger would suggest that they receive processing privileges in the neural systems underlying perception and attention. Previous research has documented enhanced processing of motivationally salient cues, and has pointed to the amygdala as a candidate neural structure underlying the enhancements. In the current study, we examined whether the amygdala was necessary for this emotional modulation of attention to occur. Patients with unilateral amygdala lesions and matched controls completed an emotional attentional blink task in which emotional distractors impair the perception of subsequent targets. Emotional images proved more distracting across all participant groups, including those with right or left amygdala lesions. These data argue against a central role for the amygdala in mediating all types of attentional capture by emotional stimuli.
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