Research Article| Volume 306, ISSUE 1-2, P16-19, July 15, 2011

Diminished emotional sweating in patients with limbic encephalitis



      Sweating on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, so-called emotional sweating, is considered to be mediated by the limbic system, including the amygdala and anterior cingulate cortex. To reveal involvement of the limbic system in emotional sweating, we evaluated emotional sweating on the palms in patients with limbic encephalitis.


      Sweat and skin vasoconstriction responses to arousal stimuli were recorded on the palms of 7 patients with limbic encephalitis caused by viral infection (n=3) or immune-mediated encephalitis (n=4). All patients had amnesia, and magnetic resonance imaging revealed mesial temporal lobe lesions, including those on the amygdala, in 6 of these patients.


      Sweat responses were absent or markedly reduced in patients with limbic encephalitis compared to normal controls following deep inspiration (p<0.05), mental arithmetic (p<0.01), exercise (p<0.05), and tactile stimulation (p<0.01). Skin vasoconstriction responses in these patients were also impaired, but the extent of such impairment was mild compared to that of the sweating reductions.


      Sweating on the palm was significantly impaired in patients with mesial temporal lesions. Sweating on the palm could be a useful index of limbic function.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of the Neurological Sciences
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Adelman S.
        • Taylor C.R.
        • Heglund N.C.
        Sweating on paws and palms: what is its function?.
        Am J Physiol. 1975; 229: 1400-1402
        • Critchley H.D.
        Electrodermal responses: what happens in the brain.
        Neuroscientist. 2002; 8: 132-142
        • Boucsein W.
        Electrodermal activity.
        Plenum Press, New York1992
        • Blanchard D.C.
        • Blanchard R.J.
        Innate and conditioned reactions to threat in rats with amygdaloid lesions.
        J Comp Physiol Psychol. 1973; 81: 281-290
        • Weiskrantz L.
        Behavioral changes associated with ablation of the amygdaloid complex in monkeys.
        J Comp Physiol Psychol. 1956; 49: 381-391
        • Kling A.
        • Steklis H.D.
        • Deutsch S.
        Radiotelemetered activity from the amygdala during social interactions in the monkey.
        Exp Neurol. 1979; 66: 88-96
        • Rosvold H.E.
        • Mirsky A.F.
        • Pribram K.H.
        Influence of amygdalectomy on social behavior in monkeys.
        J Comp Physiol Psychol. 1954; 47: 173-178
        • Asahina M.
        • Suzuki A.
        • Mori M.
        • Kanesaka T.
        • Hattori T.
        Emotional sweating response in a patient with bilateral amygdala damage.
        Int J Psychophysiol. 2003; 47: 87-93
        • Bohus B.
        • Koolhaas J.M.
        • Luiten P.G.
        • Korte S.M.
        • Roozendaal B.
        • Wiersma A.
        The neurobiology of the central nucleus of the amygdala in relation to neuroendocrine and autonomic outflow.
        Prog Brain Res. 1996; 107: 447-460
        • Mangina C.A.
        • Beuzeron-Mangina J.H.
        Direct electrical stimulation of specific human brain structures and bilateral electrodermal activity.
        Int J Psychophysiol. 1996; 22: 1-8
        • Asahina M.
        • Kikkawa Y.
        • Suzuki A.
        • Hattori T.
        Cutaneous sympathetic function in patients with multiple system atrophy.
        Clin Auton Res. 2003; 13: 91-95
        • Kikkawa Y.
        • Asahina M.
        • Suzuki A.
        • Hattori T.
        Cutaneous sympathetic function and cardiovascular function in patients with progressive supranuclear palsy and Parkinson's disease.
        Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2003; 10: 101-106
        • Low P.A.
        • Neumann C.
        • Dyck P.J.
        • Fealey R.D.
        • Tuck R.R.
        Evaluation of skin vasomotor reflexes by using laser Doppler velocimetry.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 1983; 58: 583-592
        • Lee G.P.
        • Arena J.G.
        • Meador K.J.
        • Smith J.R.
        • Loring D.W.
        • Flanigin H.F.
        Changes in autonomic responsiveness following bilateral amygdalotomy in humans.
        Cogn Behav Neurol. 1988; 1: 119-130
        • Tranel D.
        • Damasio H.
        Intact electrodermal skin conductance responses after bilateral amygdala damage.
        Neuropsychologia. 1989; 27: 381-390
        • Fredrikson M.
        • Furmark T.
        • Olsson M.T.
        • Fischer H.
        • Andersson J.
        • Langstrom B.
        Functional neuroanatomical correlates of electrodermal activity: a positron emission tomographic study.
        Psychophysiology. 1998; 35: 179-185
        • Hazlett E.A.
        • Dawson M.E.
        • Buchsbaum M.S.
        • Nuechterlein K.H.
        Reduced regional brain glucose metabolism assessed by positron emission tomography in electrodermal nonresponder schizophrenics: a pilot study.
        J Abnorm Psychol. 1993; 102: 39-46