- What is your Amygdala?
- The amygdala is a collection of cells near the base of the brain. There are two, one in each hemisphere or side of the brain. This is where emotions are given meaning, remembered, and attached to associations and responses to them (emotional memories). The amygdala is considered to be part of the brain’s limbic system.
The amygdalae (singular: amygdala; /əˈmɪɡdələ/; also corpus amygdaloideum; Latin, from Greek ἀμυγδαλή, amygdalē, ‘almond’, ‘tonsil’, listed in Gray’s Anatomy textbook as the nucleus amygdalæ) are almond-shaped groups of nuclei located deep and medially within the temporal lobes of the brain in complex vertebrates, including humans. Shown in research to perform a primary role in the processing of memory and emotional reactions, the amygdalae are considered part of the limbic system.
The amygdala is a collection of nuclei found deep within the temporal lobe. The term amygdala comes from Latin and translates to “almond,” because one of the most prominent nuclei of the amygdala has an almond-like shape. Although we often refer to it in the singular, there are two amygdalae—one in each cerebral hemisphere.
What is the amygdala and what does it do?
The amygdala is recognized as a component of the limbic system and is thought to play important roles in emotion and behavior. It is best known for its role in the processing of fear, although as we’ll see, this is an oversimplified perspective on amygdala function.
Our modern understanding of amygdala function can be traced back to the 1930s when Heinrich Kluver and Paul Bucy removed the amygdalae of rhesus monkeys and saw drastic effects on behavior. Among other things, the monkeys became more docile and seemed to display little fear. The constellation of behavior that resulted from amygdalae removal was called Kluver-Bucy syndrome, and it led to the amygdala being investigated for its role in fear.
Since the amygdala has become best known for its role in fear processing. When we are exposed to a fearful stimulus, information about that stimulus is immediately sent to the amygdala, which can then send signals to areas of the brain like the hypothalamus to trigger a “fight-or-flight” response (e.g. increased heart rate and respiration to prepare for action).
The amygdala and memory
The amygdala may be best known as the part of the brain that drives the so-called “fight or flight” response. While it is often associated with the body’s fear and stress responses, it also plays a pivotal role in memory.
The “basal ganglia” refers to a group of subcortical nuclei responsible primarily for motor control, as well as other roles such as motor learning, executive functions and behaviors, and emotions. … Disruption of the basal ganglia network forms the basis for several movement disorders.
What is your Basal Ganglia?
The basal ganglia (or basal nuclei) are a group of nuclei of varied origin in the brains of vertebrates that act as a cohesive functional unit. They are situated at the base of the forebrain and are strongly connected with the cerebral cortex, thalamus, and other brain areas. The basal ganglia are associated with a variety of functions, including voluntary motor control, procedural learning relating to routine behaviors or “habits” such as bruxism, eye movements, cognitive, and emotional functions. Currently popular theories implicate the basal ganglia primarily in action selection, that is, the decision of which of several possible behaviors to execute at a given time. Experimental studies show that the basal ganglia exert an inhibitory influence on a number of motor systems, and that a release of this inhibition permits a motor system to become active. The “behavior switching” that takes place within the basal ganglia is influenced by signals from many parts of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex, which plays a key role in executive functions.
The main components of the basal ganglia are the striatum (caudate nucleus and putamen), the globus pallidus, the substantia nigra, the nucleus accumbens, and the subthalamic nucleus. The largest component, the striatum, receives input from many brain areas but sends output only to other components of the basal ganglia. The pallidum receives input from the striatum, and sends inhibitory output to a number of motor-related areas. The substantia nigra is the source of the striatal input of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays an important role in basal ganglia function. The subthalamic nucleus receives input mainly from the striatum and cerebral cortex, and projects to the globus pallidus. Each of these areas has a complex internal anatomical and neurochemical organization.
The basal ganglia play a central role in a number of neurological conditions, including several movement disorders. The most notable are Parkinson’s disease, which involves degeneration of the dopamine-producing cells in the substantia nigra pars compacta, and Huntington’s disease, which primarily involves damage to the striatum. Basal ganglia dysfunction is also implicated in some other disorders of behavior control such as Tourette syndrome, hemiballismus, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and Wilson’s disease.
The basal ganglia have a limbic sector whose components are assigned distinct names: the nucleus accumbens, ventral pallidum, and ventral tegmental area. There is considerable evidence that this limbic part plays a central role in reward learning, particularly a pathway from the ventral tegmental area to the nucleus accumbens that uses the neurotransmitter dopamine. A number of highly addictive drugs, including cocaine, amphetamine, and nicotine, are thought to work by increasing the efficacy of this dopamine signal. There is also evidence implicating overactivity of the VTA dopaminergic projection in schizophrenia.
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What is your Limbic system?
The limbic system (or paleomammalian brain) is a complex set of brain structures that lies on both sides of the thalamus, right under the cerebrum. It is not a separate system, but a collection of structures from the telencephalon, diencephalon, and mesencephalon.
The limbic system includes the olfactory bulbs, hippocampus, amygdala, anterior thalamic nuclei, fornix, column of fornix, mamillary body, septum pellucidum, habenular commisure, cingulate gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, limbic cortex, limbic midbrain areas and pons.
It supports a variety of functions, including emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and olfaction. It appears to be primarily responsible for our emotional life, and has a great deal to do with the formation of memories.
Some neuroscientists, including Joseph LeDoux, have suggested that the concept of a functionally unified limbic system should be abandoned as obsolete because it is grounded mainly in historical concepts of brain anatomy that are no longer accepted as accurate.
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