Amygdala and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex responses to appearance-based and behavior-based person impressions

Sean G. Baron, M. I. Gobbini, Andrew D. Engell, Alexander Todorov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


We explored the neural correlates of learning about people when the affective value of both facial appearance and behavioral information is manipulated. Participants were presented with faces that were either rated as high or low on trustworthiness. Subsequently, we paired these faces with positive, negative, or no behavioral information. Prior to forming face-behavior associations, a cluster in the right amygdala responded more strongly to untrustworthy than to trustworthy faces. During learning, a cluster in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) responded more strongly to faces paired with behaviors than faces not paired with behaviors. We also observed that the activity in the dmPFC was correlated with behavioral learning performance assessed after scanning. Interestingly, individual differences in the initial amygdala response to face trustworthiness prior to learning modulated the relationship between dmPFC activity and learning. This finding suggests that the activity of the amygdala can affect the interaction between dmPFC activity and learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbernsq086
Pages (from-to)572-581
Number of pages10
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • Amygdala
  • Faces
  • Learning
  • PFC
  • Trustworthiness


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