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  • Writer's pictureSTEM Medley

All about the Amygdala!

The amygdala is a complex collection of cells located in the centre of the brain, near the hippocampus (which is associated with memory formation).

The amygdala is primarily engaged in the processing of fear-related emotions and memories. The amygdala is a part of the limbic system in the brain and is important in how we process intense emotions such as fear or pleasure.


The amygdaloid body, also known as the amygdala, is a subcortical grey matter of the limbic system that receives blood from the anterior choroidal artery. It has 13 nuclei that are divided into three functionally distinct nuclei divisions:

1 - The corticomedial group

The medial (middle) set of subnuclei, which is linked to the olfactory bulb and cortex (related to olfactory functions, or sense of smell).

2 -The basolateral group

The basolateral group (basolateral meaning beneath and to the side) contains several connections with the cerebral cortex, particularly the prefrontal cortex within the frontal lobes.

3 - The central group

The centre and anterior (front) set of nuclei, which is linked to the brain stem, hypothalamus, and sensory regions.


Amygdala Hijack

The phrase "amygdala hijacking" was used by psychologist Daniel Goleman in his 1995 book "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ" to describe an unexpected and overwhelming emotional reaction to a circumstance. In other terms, it occurs when a person "loses it" or severely overreacts to something or someone.

The fight-or-flight response is activated by the amygdala. This response can assist those who are in immediate physical danger in reacting fast for their safety and security. The fight-or-flight reaction, for example, assisted early humans in responding to dangers in order to escape being hurt or killed.

The amygdala initiates this fight-or-flight reaction without your involvement. When that region of your brain detects danger, it sends a signal to your brain to release stress hormones, preparing your body to fight for survival or leave for safety. Today, emotions such as stress, fear, anxiety, hostility, and rage are more likely to elicit the fight-or-flight response.

Watch this video to understand the process of the amygdala hijack:


The front lobes are part of the cerebral cortex of the brain. This part of the brain controls voluntary actions such as reasoning, thinking, movement, decision-making, and planning. It thinks more rationally than the amygdala does.

The front lobes let you to analyse your emotions and then respond deliberately based on your experiences and judgement. These are not automatic reflexes like the ones produced by the amygdala.

In the event of a physical threat, the amygdala may activate the fight-or-flight response, but the front lobes analyse the information you're receiving to help you determine whether the threat is real. If the threat isn't immediate, the frontal lobes assist you in deciding what to do in reaction to the stress.


Roles of the amygdala

First and the supreme role of the amygdala is to modulate hypothalamus. By this, it affects several neural structures and defines some behavioural habits. Here are some of the most important:

  • Phobias

  • Response to the acute stress

  • Control of the autonomic nervous system

  • Mediating memory storage in fear conditioning


Works cited:

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