Disrupted functional connectivity of the amygdala may be central to mental illness. Yet, little is known about the functional connectivity of the amygdala in individuals, limiting our ability to understand and treat amygdala dysconnectivity in individual patients. Here, we divide the amygdala into three subdivisions in each of 10 individuals and define connectivity patterns using 5 h of fMRI data per person. We demonstrate that, across individuals, each of the three amygdala subdivisions occupies a roughly consistent location and exhibits consistent functional connectivity with specific cortical functional networks: One to the default mode network, another to the dorsal attention network, and a third without preferential connectivity.Abstract
The amygdala is central to the pathophysiology of many psychiatric illnesses. An imprecise understanding of how the amygdala fits into the larger network organization of the human brain, however, limits our ability to create models of dysfunction in individual patients to guide personalized treatment. Therefore, we investigated the position of the amygdala and its functional subdivisions within the network organization of the brain in 10 highly sampled individuals (5 h of fMRI data per person). We characterized three functional subdivisions within the amygdala of each individual. We discovered that one subdivision is preferentially correlated with the default mode network; a second is preferentially correlated with the dorsal attention and fronto-parietal networks; and third subdivision does not have any networks to which it is preferentially correlated relative to the other two subdivisions. All three subdivisions are positively correlated with ventral attention and somatomotor networks and negatively correlated with salience and cingulo-opercular networks. These observations were replicated in an independent group dataset of 120 individuals. We also found substantial across-subject variation in the distribution and magnitude of amygdala functional connectivity with the cerebral cortex that related to individual differences in the stereotactic locations both of amygdala subdivisions and of cortical functional brain networks. Finally, using lag analyses, we found consistent temporal ordering of fMRI signals in the cortex relative to amygdala subdivisions. Altogether, this work provides a detailed framework of amygdala–cortical interactions that can be used as a foundation for models relating aberrations in amygdala connectivity to psychiatric symptoms in individual patients.