A context-dependent switch from sensing to feeling in the primate amygdala

Anne B. Martin, Michael A. Cardenas, Rose K. Andersen, Archer I. Bowman, Elizabeth A. Hillier, Sliman Bensmaia, Andrew J. Fuglevand, Katalin M. Gothard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The skin transmits affective signals that integrate into our social vocabulary. As the socio-affective aspects of touch are likely processed in the amygdala, we compare neural responses to social grooming and gentle airflow recorded from the amygdala and the primary somatosensory cortex of non-human primates. Neurons in the somatosensory cortex respond to both types of tactile stimuli. In the amygdala, however, neurons do not respond to individual grooming sweeps even though grooming elicits autonomic states indicative of positive affect. Instead, many show changes in baseline firing rates that persist throughout the grooming bout. Such baseline fluctuations are attributed to social context because the presence of the groomer alone can account for the observed changes in baseline activity. It appears, therefore, that during grooming, the amygdala stops responding to external inputs on a short timescale but remains responsive to social context (or the associated affective states) on longer time scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112056
JournalCell Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 28 2023


  • CP: Neuroscience
  • baseline
  • context
  • non-human primate
  • social
  • somatosensory cortex
  • tactile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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