SATO Wataru Laboratory

Emotion recognition from facial expressions in a temporal lobe epileptic patient with ictal fear

(Yamada, Murai, Sato, Namiki, Miyamoto, & Ohigashi: Neuropsychologia)

Ictal fear (IF) is an affective aura observed in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. It has been suggested that the amygdala, a region implicated in emotion processing, is involved in generating IF. Several studies have reported that the patients with IF have disturbances in emotional experience, but there has been no testing of the emotional recognition in those patients.

In this report, emotion recognition from facial expressions was investigated in a patient with IF. The patient suffered from IF due to temporal lobe epilepsy, and underwent hippocampectomy surgery which completely suppressed IF. We examined the patient before and after surgery.

Before surgery, the patient tended to attach enhanced fear, sadness, and anger to various facial expressions. After surgery, such biases disappeared.

As an underlying mechanism of the pre-surgical skewed perception of emotional stimuli, the abnormal epileptogenic circuits involving a hypersensitive amygdala possibly due to the kindling mechanism were suggested.

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