Amygdalae(s) Realize

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thisisfear2.jpgWhile the amygdalae are probably most famous for their association with fear, I can't help but wonder about the enormous ripple effect that would occur if it were altered in various ways. Observations have been made, of course (monkeys and partial encephalectomies, a woman with lipoid proteinosis), but the emotions and behavior observed hold further implications: memory formation. The amygdala is crucial to evaluation of events' emotional significance, and also appears to be responsible for the influence of emotion on perception. It's the emotional arousal, not the importance of the information, that helps memory. Consider beta blockers--drugs that have an effect on anxiety, among other things--and their possible implementation for memory modulation.

Without the amygdalae--or with altered amygdalae--what would the hippocampus have to put into context and sequence during memory formation? Would traumatic experiences and repressed memories cease to exist? On a grander scale: how has the amygdala affected evolution? Facial expression recognition, art, poetry, all kinds of expression?


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This is off topic, but does anyone know what the little star means next to entries? I accidentally clicked the one by mine, and now it says 2 by it...

This is an interesting notion you've highlighted; the ability to emotionally disconnect our memories. For those with chronic depression/bipolar disorder or those who've experienced severally traumatic events (or have the tendency to process them 'more traumatically'), the prospect of a drug to block an emotional connection with the actual event is alluring. In essence, this would mean the ability to witness or even experience things in a more objective way. How intertwined are our individual emotional differences with the ideologies that surround us and we've even integrated? If we could block the emotional processing of memories, maybe we'd just categorize them like computers or any other automaton that lacks emotion. Maybe I've watched 'Blade Runner' too many times...

Anyway, maybe the emotional part of memory is just the context, in a way. Like when you see someone crying, it's very difficult to gauge why they are; are they physically in pain, are they sad, or maybe even happy, or just experienced loss, or are remembering an emotionally painful memory? Without the context surrounding it, we really wouldn't know.

Just my thoughts in brief, thanks for your post.

Great questions here Eva. I would say that without the Amygdala we would be very poor processors of our emotional life. We might feel differently from various experiences but perhaps would not be able to assign much meaning to the quality of experience.

I believe the stars are similar to the "like" function in FB.

Also, for some reason I am not seeing my comments for this blog. Will you forward me the email notification you get for my comment?

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by E. Carriere published on October 7, 2011 10:49 PM.

Let Get Fearless! was the previous entry in this blog.

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