The effects of bilateral lesions of the amygdala on dyadic social interactions in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta)

Nathan J. Emery, John P. Capitanio, William A. Mason, Christopher J. Machado, Sally P. Mendoza, David G Amaral

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213 Scopus citations


The role of the amygdala in dyadic social interactions of adult rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) was assessed after bilateral ibotenic acid lesions. Social, nonsocial, and spatial behaviors of amygdalectomized and control monkeys were assessed in 3 dyadic experiments: constrained, unconstrained, and round robin. Lesions produced extensive bilateral damage to the amygdala. Across all experiments, the amygdalectomized monkeys demonstrated increased social affiliation, decreased anxiety, and increased confidence compared with control monkeys, particularly during early encounters. Normal subjects also demonstrated increased social affiliation toward the amygdalectomized subjects. These results indicate that amygdala lesions in adult monkeys lead to a decrease in the species-normal reluctance to immediately engage a novel conspecific in social behavior. The altered behavior of the amygdalectomized monkeys may have induced the increased social interactions from their normal companions. This is contrary to the idea that amygdalectomy produces a decrease in social interaction and increased aggression from conspecifics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-544
Number of pages30
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology


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