How to Say Amygdala?

This article will cover how to say amygdala. The article will also cover what the amygdala is, what are its functions, and some frequently asked questions about the same. 

How to Say Amygdala?

Amygdala is pronounced as ‘uh · mig · duh · luh’. 

The term amygdala is derived from the Greek word ‘amygdale’ which means ‘almond’. This is because the amygdala is shaped like an almond. It is located in the medial temporal lobe, right in front of the hippocampus. Amygdala is a paired structure, just like the hippocampus, each pair is located in each hemisphere of the brain. 

Amygdala is included in the limbic system. The Limbic system is referred to as a network of nerves that mediate several aspects of emotion and memory. Amygdala is a region of the brain that is majorly involved with emotional processing. In the past, the amygdala was considered to be responsible for primitive fear and other emotions that are a result of aversive or unpleasant situations or stimuli. However, now they are known to be responsible for rewarding emotions, elicited by positive stimuli. 

Functions of the Amygdala 

The amygdala is known to play a mediating role in emotional learning as well as behaviour. A vast array of human emotions exist, ranging from joy to sadness, disgust to excitement, and regret to satisfaction. 

Emotions also possess quality or valence, meaning, they can either be positive or negative. They also vary in intensity, meaning they can either be low or high. This reflects emotional arousal in the person. To study the neural basis of emotions, studies have focused on animal models. 

Studies including the ones that focus on the amygdala have used physiological and behavioural measures and have found that valence and intensity are involved in the emotional experience.

Psychologist Heinrich Klüver and neurosurgeon Paul C. Bucy (1939) studied monkeys that had lesions in their temporal lobe including the amygdala. They found that monkeys experienced changes in their emotional, eating, and sexual behaviour. Further studies on this also helped establish the mediating roles of the amygdala in these functions.

The amygdala also mediates several aspects of emotional learning and behaviour. The emotion that the amygdala is especially in control of is fear. With the help of Classical Conditioning (Pavlov, 1897), people can get conditioned to fear responses. This is when a neutral stimulus, which does not emit any kind of response, is paired repetitively with an aversive stimulus.

For instance, if you pair exposing a child to a loud banging noise (here, this is an aversive stimulus as it scares them) with the face of a stranger (neutral stimulus) every time, the child will start fearing the stranger. This is because the neurons in the amygdala will get conditioned to emit fear responses to the face of the stranger.

Existing literature provides support to the view that the amygdala influences cognitive processes of memory-formation, decision-making, social behaviour, and attention.

This may be because the amygdala projects information to the prefrontal and sensory cortices. It also sends information to the hippocampus. Thus, the amygdala can influence emotions in these processes, which are mostly cognitive in nature.

Memory Formation

The amygdala is majorly responsible for the formation of emotional memories. Since the amygdala is closer to the hippocampus and is known to have shared connections, the two work together for the formation of memories that are more memorable.

Since the amygdala attributes emotions to cognitive processes, it also includes memories. Thus, the more emotions the memory invokes, the better it is remembered. 

For instance, when the mother gives birth to her child, the entire process is remembered in clear detail because it has highly positive emotions attached to the experience. Whereas, everyday mundane tasks that do not invoke emotional attachment are usually forgotten.

The amygdala stores good and bad memories, but is involved especially in storing emotional traumas. This is when the functions of the amygdala in memory formation can be detrimental as emotional traumas are difficult to overcome. The emotions attached to those traumas make it especially difficult for them to get weak.

In fact, people who have been victims of emotional trauma can also find it affecting their cognitive reasoning, this is because the amygdala is also connected to the prefrontal cortex.

Emotional memories are generally stored in the synapses between the neurons in the brain. There is evidence which claims that multiple neuromodulators in the amygdala mediate emotional memory formation (Tang et al., 2020). These neural connections have the emotion of fear embedded in them.

Aggression

The amygdala, as a part of the limbic system, also controls the emotion of aggression. How reactive is the amygdala is a good indicator of aggression. As reported by Groves and Schlesinger (1982), individuals who have had surgical removal of the amygdala tend to be lower in aggression as compared to before the surgery.

Animal studies also confirm these findings. Removal of the amygdala from monkeys and rats has been linked to lower levels of aggression being observed in them.

Role of Amygdala in Mental Disorders 

There has been ample research done to show the involvement of the amygdala in mental health conditions, especially the amygdala on the left side. These mental health conditions include social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder (Arehart-Treichel, 2014).

Correlations between people suffering from severe social anxiety and increased amygdala activity have been established by research (Phan et al., 2006).

Individuals diagnosed with depression also report over-activity of the left side of the amygdala. This is especially apparent when they interpret emotions from faces, especially fearful ones (Sheline et al., 2001)

These findings are also similar in the case of PTSD. When shown pictures of fearful faces, the participants diagnosed with PTSD showed higher levels of activity in their amygdalas (Kujala et al., 2012).

In the case of bipolar disorder, in one study, it was found that people diagnosed with it tend to have smaller amygdala volumes as compared to those not diagnosed with the disorder (Blumberg et al., 2005).

Amygdala Damage

In cases of amygdala damage, the individual faces difficulties with the formation of emotional memories. They may have an overreactive fear response and may become hypervigilant. This may then lead to wrong interpretation of social cues and threats, and losing control.

They may face emotional sensitivity like anxiety, aggression, irritability, and panic disorder if the damage causes hyperactivity in the amygdala. However, they will not be able to process emotions or recognise them at all if the damage to the amygdala has caused the amygdala to become under-active.

Conclusion 

This article covered how to say amygdala. The article also covered what the amygdala is, what are its functions, and some frequently asked questions about the same. 

Frequently Asked Questions: How to Say Amygdala?

How do I calm my amygdala?

You can gain control over the emotional reactions that are irrational. This can be done by slowing your pace, deep breaths, and refocusing your thoughts. These techniques allow the brain’s frontal lobes to become active and calm the amygdala.

What can damage the amygdala?

Amygdala can be damaged as a result of temporal lobectomy or amygdalohippocampectomy which is a part of the surgical treatment of intractable epilepsy. 

What is the 3-3-3 rule for reducing anxiety?

The 3-3-3 rule is to look around you and name three things that you can see, three things that you can hear, and moving three parts of your body. This helps in reducing anxiety.

References 

Arehart-Treichel, J. (2014). Changes in Children’s Amygdala Seen After Anxiety Treatment.

Blumberg, H. P., Fredericks, C., Wang, F., Kalmar, J. H., Spencer, L., Papademetris, X., … & Krystal, J. H. (2005). Preliminary evidence for persistent abnormalities in amygdala volumes in adolescents and young adults with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorders, 7(6), 570-576.

Grove, E. A. (1988). Neural associations of the substantia innominata in the rat: afferent connections. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 277(3), 315-346.

Guy-Evans, O. (2021, May 09). Amygdala function and location. Simply Psychology. www.simplypsychology.org/amygdala.html

Kujala, M. V., Carlson, S., & Hari, R. (2012). Engagement of amygdala in third‐person view of face‐to‐face interaction. Human Brain Mapping, 33(8), 1753-1762.

Klüver, H., & Bucy, P. C. (1939). Preliminary analysis of functions of the temporal lobes in monkeys. Archives of Neurology & Psychiatry, 42(6), 979-1000.

Pavlov, I. (1897). Classical conditioning. Wikipedia.[Paper reference 1].

Phan, K. L., Fitzgerald, D. A., Nathan, P. J., & Tancer, M. E. (2006). Association between amygdala hyperactivity to harsh faces and severity of social anxiety in generalized social phobia. Biological psychiatry, 59(5), 424-429.

Sheline, Y. I., Barch, D. M., Donnelly, J. M., Ollinger, J. M., Snyder, A. Z., & Mintun, M. A. (2001). Increased amygdala response to masked emotional faces in depressed subjects resolves with antidepressant treatment: an fMRI study. Biological psychiatry, 50(9), 651-658.

Tang, W., Kochubey, O., Kintscher, M., & Schneggenburger, R. (2020). A VTA to basal amygdala dopamine projection contributes to signal salient somatosensory events during fear learning. Journal of Neuroscience, 40(20), 3969-3980.

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