Coarse threat images reveal theta oscillations in the amygdala: a magnetoencephalography study

Frances A. Maratos, Karin Mogg, Brendan P. Bradley, Gina Rippon, Carl Senior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neurocognitive models propose a specialized neural system for processing threat-related information, in which the amygdala plays a key role in the analysis of threat cues. fMRI research indicates that the amygdala is sensitive to coarse visual threat relevant information—for example, low spatial frequency (LSF) fearful faces. However, fMRI cannot determine the temporal or spectral characteristics of neural responses. Consequently, we used magnetoencephalography to explore spatiotemporal patterns of activity in the amygdala and cortical regions with blurry (LSF) and normal angry, fearful, and neutral faces. Results demonstrated differences in amygdala activity between LSF threat-related and LSF neutral faces (50-250 msec after face onset). These differences were evident in the theta range (4-8 Hz) and were accompanied by power changes within visual and frontal regions. Our results support the view that the amygdala is involved in the early processing of coarse threat related information and that theta is important in integrating activity within emotion-processing networks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-143
Number of pages11
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


  • neurocognitive models
  • neural system
  • threat-related information
  • amygdala
  • fMRI research
  • coarse visual threat
  • low spatial frequency
  • fearful faces
  • neural responses
  • magnetoencephalography


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