Neurophilosophy

The almond

The new issue of Current Biology has a freely available primer on the amygdala by Joseph LeDoux of the Center for Neural Science at New York University.

The amgdala is a small, almond shaped structure found on the medial surface of the temporal lobe, just anterior to the hippocampus. Functionally, it can be thought of as junction between the neural circuits involved in memory and emotion. These two phenomena are intimately linked, and the amygdala is now known to be crucial for that link.   

LeDoux is the ideal person to write a primer on this brain structure, as he is one of the world’s leading memory and emotion researchers. At NYU, LeDoux and his colleagues use a wide variety of approaches to investigate the role of the amygdala in the formation of traumatic memories and fear conditioning.

In the primer LeDoux discusses all aspects of his work. He first describes the anatomical structure of, and the connections formed by, the amygdala. He then goes on to explain the properties of neurons in the amygdala and the behavioural functions of the structure, while focusing throughout on the implications of the research findings.