Role of the left amygdala and right orbital frontal cortex in emotional interference resolution facilitation in working memory

Sara M. Levens, Orrin Devinsky, Elizabeth Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Previous research has shown that emotional information aids conflict resolution in working memory (Levens & Phelps, 2008). Using a Recency-probes working memory (WM) paradigm, Levens and Phelps found that positive and negative emotional stimuli reduced the amount of interference created when information that was once relevant conflicted with currently relevant information, suggesting that emotional information facilitates interference resolution in WM. To determine what regions of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and temporal lobes are critical to the influence of emotional stimuli on interference resolution, we conducted a Recency-probes emotion paradigm with right and left unilateral frontal and temporal lobe lesion patients. The frontal lobe lesion patient group comprised individuals with unilateral ventral and dorsal PFC lesions. The temporal lobe lesion patient group comprised individuals with lesions of the amygdala and surrounding structures. Results indicate that when the left amygdala is damaged, emotional facilitation of interference resolution is absent (equal emotional and neutral interference levels), when the right orbital frontal cortex (OFC) is damaged, in contrast, emotional interference resolution is impaired (emotional interference levels are higher than neutral levels are). Based on these unique patterns we propose specific contributions for these regions in the emotional facilitation of interference resolution in WM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3201-3212
Number of pages12
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011



  • Amygdala
  • Emotion
  • Interference resolution
  • Orbital frontal cortex
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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