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Verbal and nonverbal emotional memory following unilateral amygdala damage.

Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.)

physiology, Visual Perception, Verbal Behavior, surgery, Temporal Lobe, Sex Characteristics, Neurosurgical Procedures, Neuropsychological Tests, Middle Aged, Mental Recall, Memory, Male, Individuality, Humans, Functional Laterality, Female, Emotions, Auditory Perception, Arousal, injuries, Amygdala

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      The amygdala is involved in the normal facilitation of memory by emotion, but the separate contributions of the left and right amygdala to memory for verbal or nonverbal emotional material have not been investigated. Fourteen patients with damage to the medial temporal lobe including the amygdala (seven left, seven right), 18 brain-damaged, and 36 normal controls were exposed to emotional and neutral pictures accompanied by verbal narratives. Memory for both narratives and pictures was assessed with a free recall test 24 h later. Subjects with left amygdala damage failed to show the normally robust enhancement of memory for verbal and nonverbal emotional stimuli. The group with right amygdala damage showed the normal pattern of facilitation of memory by emotion for both verbal and nonverbal stimuli despite an overall reduction in memory performance. Furthermore, subjects with left amygdala damage were disproportionately impaired on memory for emotional narratives as compared with memory for emotional pictures. The latter finding offers partial support for a lateralized and material-specific pattern of the amygdala's contribution to emotional memory.

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