The Amygdala and Long Term Memory Storage

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Located in the Limbic System, the Amygdala, by definition "plays a key role in fear, excitement, and arousal." Under this description, it is the Amygdala that is activated in fight or flight situations as well as any other emotionally arousing experience. With this being said, one topic that has come to my interest several times, is the relationship between memories and events under amygdala activation.

As one student posted about an experience involving fight or flight at a roller rink, he believed the situation was remembered in great detail due to the high intensity of emotions. Being that this situation involved a fight or flight decision, it is apparent that the amygdala was activated. The question that I have is, "Is there a direct relationship between the amygdala and long term memory storage?"

After doing simple research, I found a study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences in Irvine, CA, in which researches set out to find an answer to this exact question. (Link on bottom of post.) In this study, the results were positive in that there is a direct relationship between amygdala activation and Long Term Memory storage.

"The findings of our studies using human subjects are consistent with those of our other studies using animal subjects in indicating that memory storage is influenced by activation of B-adrenergic systems and the amygdala. Considered together, these findings provide strong evidence supporting the hypothesis that the amygdala, especially the baso-lateral nucleus, plays a central role in modulating the consolidation of long-term memory of emotionally arousing experiences," (McGaugh, Cahill, Roozendaal 6).

This is easy to relate to our personal lives, as it is not difficult to recall an experience of heightened fear from our childhood. To now understand that these vivid images and memories were aided by my emotions and ultimately the amygdala, is intriguing. Overall, i find it extremely interesting to think that simple emotions that activate our amygdala, can be directly related to a more efficient storage of memories in the long term.

Original Article:
http://www.pnas.org/content/93/24/13508.full.pdf

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This page contains a single entry by lieb0196 published on October 2, 2011 6:45 PM.

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