The human amygdala plays an important role in gaze monitoring: A PET study

Ryuta Kawashima, Motoaki Sugiura, Takashi Kato, Akinori Nakamura, Kentaro Hatano, Kengo Ito, Hiroshi Fukuda, Shozo Kojima, Katsuki Nakamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

354 Citations (Scopus)


Social contact often initially depends on ascertaining the direction of the other person's gaze. We determined the brain areas involved in gaze monitoring by a functional neuroimaging study. Discrimination between the direction of gaze significantly activated a region in the left amygdala during eye-contact and no eye-contact tasks to the same extent. However, a region in the right amygdala was specifically activated only during the eye-contact task. Results confirm that the left amygdala plays a general role in the interpretation of eye gaze direction, and that the activity of the right amygdala of the subject increases when another individual's gaze is directed towards him. This suggests that the human amygdala plays a role in reading social signals from the face.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-783
Number of pages5
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Apr


  • Amygdala
  • Gaze direction discrimination
  • PET
  • Regional cerebral blood flow
  • Social contact

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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