Serotonin Transporter Genotype (5-HTTLPR): Effects of Neutral and Undefined Conditions on Amygdala Activation

Andreas Heinz, Michael N. Smolka, Dieter F. Braus, Jana Wrase, Anne Beck, Herta Flor, Karl Mann, Gunter Schumann, Christian Büchel, Ahmad R. Hariri, Daniel R. Weinberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Background: A polymorphism of the human serotonin transporter gene (SCL6A4) has been associated with serotonin transporter expression and with processing of aversive stimuli in the amygdala. Functional imaging studies show that during the presentation of aversive versus neutral cues, healthy carriers of the short (s) allele showed stronger amygdala activation than long (l) carriers. However, a recent report suggested that this interaction is driven by amygdala deactivation during presentation of neutral stimuli in s carriers. Methods: Functional MRI was used to assess amygdala activation during the presentation of a fixation cross or affectively aversive or neutral visual stimuli in 29 healthy men. Results: Amygdala activation was increased in s carriers during undefined states such as the presentation of a fixation cross compared with emotionally neutral conditions. Conclusions: This finding suggests that s carriers show stronger amygdala reactivity to stimuli and contexts that are relatively uncertain, which we propose are stressful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1011-1014
Number of pages4
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • 5-HTT genotype
  • amygdala
  • baseline
  • emotion
  • fixation cross
  • functional MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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