Painful laser stimuli induce directed functional interactions within and between the human amygdala and hippocampus

C. C. Liu, C. Q. Shi, P. J. Franaszczuk, N. E. Crone, D. Schretlen, S. Ohara, F. A. Lenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pathways by which painful stimuli are signaled within the human medial temporal lobe are unknown. Rodent studies have shown that nociceptive inputs are transmitted from the brainstem or thalamus through one of two pathways to the central nucleus of the amygdala. The indirect pathway projects from the basal and lateral nuclei of the amygdala to the central nucleus, while the direct pathway projects directly to the central nucleus. We now test the hypothesis that the human ventral amygdala (putative basal and lateral nuclei) exerts a causal influence upon the dorsal amygdala (putative central nucleus), during the application of a painful laser stimulus. Local field potentials (LFPs) were recorded from depth electrode contacts implanted in the medial temporal lobe for the treatment of epilepsy, and causal influences were analyzed by Granger causality (GRC). This analysis indicates that the dorsal amygdala exerts a pre-stimulus causal influence upon the hippocampus, consistent with an attention-related response to the painful laser. Within the amygdala, the analysis indicates that the ventral contacts exert a causal influence upon dorsal contacts, consistent with the human (putative) indirect pathway. Potentials evoked by the laser (LEPs) were not recorded in the ventral nuclei, but were recorded at dorsal amygdala contacts which were not preferentially those receiving causal influences from the ventral contacts. Therefore, it seems likely that the putative indirect pathway is associated with causal influences from the ventral to the dorsal amygdala, and is distinct from the human (putative) indirect pathway which mediates LEPs in the dorsal amygdala.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-217
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Mar 31 2011


  • Amygdala
  • Causality
  • Fear conditioning
  • Hippocampus
  • Human
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Painful laser stimuli induce directed functional interactions within and between the human amygdala and hippocampus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this