Age but no sex effects on subareas of the amygdala

Florian Kurth*, Nicolas Cherbuin, Eileen Luders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The amygdala, an anatomical composite of several nuclei that have been grouped anatomically and functionally into three major subareas, has been reported to decrease in size with increasing age and to differ in size between male and female brains. However, findings are rather inconsistent across existing studies, possibly reflecting differences in the cohorts examined or the approaches chosen to define and measure the dimensions of the amygdala. Here, we investigated possible effects of age and sex on the amygdala as well as age-by-sex interactions in 100 healthy subjects (50 men/50 women) aged 18–69 years. For this purpose, we enhanced conventional imaging-based information with microscopically defined cytoarchitectonic probabilities to discriminate between different subareas. We observed significant negative correlations between age and all subareas of the amygdala indicating decreases over time, but with subarea-specific trajectories. In addition, we detected a significant quadratic association with age for the left superficial subarea suggesting an accelerating volume loss over time. Such regional information may serve as a frame of reference in future studies, not only for normative samples but also potentially for clinical populations known to present with an atypical atrophy of the amygdala. There were no sex differences and no interactions between sex and age, suggesting that the size of the amygdala is similar in male and female brains (at least when properly accounting for total intracranial volume) and that its age-related decline follows a similar trajectory in both sexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1697-1704
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2019


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