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Objective: To study the possible role of the amygdala in the recognition of happy and sad facial expressions in adolescents aged 13 to 17 years.

Method: Twelve healthy adolescents (6 females and 6 males) underwent noninvasive 3-Tesla functional magnetic resonance imaging while viewing pictures of happy, sad, and neutral facial expressions.

Results: Happy faces produced significant bilateral amygdalar activation when compared with neutral faces (p < .05, corrected). Sad faces relative to neutral did not produce significant amygdalar activation.

Conclusions: These results extend the role of the amygdala in adolescents to include the recognition of happy facial expressions. They demonstrate the feasibility of using happy facial expressions to noninvasively study amygdalar function in adolescents and establish a baseline against which the amygdalar response to emotional stimuli in several psychiatric conditions may be compared.

Copyright 2003 (C) American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry