Task Modulation of Single-Neuron Activity in the Human Amygdala and Hippocampus

Runnan Cao, Alexander Todorov, Nicholas J. Brandmeir, Shuo Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The human amygdala and hippocampus are critically involved in various processes in face perception. However, it remains unclear how task demands or evaluative contexts modulate processes underlying face perception. In this study, we employed two task instructions when participants viewed the same faces and recorded single-neuron activity from the human amygdala and hippocampus. We comprehensively analyzed task modulation for three key aspects of face processing and we found that neurons in the amygdala and hippocampus (1) encoded high-level social traits such as perceived facial trustworthiness and dominance and this response was modulated by task instructions; (2) encoded low-level facial features and demonstrated region-based feature coding, which was not modulated by task instructions; and (3) encoded fixations on salient face parts such as the eyes and mouth, which was not modulated by task instructions. Together, our results provide a comprehensive survey of task modulation of neural processes underlying face perception at the single-neuron level in the human amygdala and hippocampus.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberENEURO.0398-21.2021
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Amygdala and hippocampus
  • Dominance
  • Face
  • Human single-neuron recordings
  • Task modulation
  • Trustworthiness


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