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The amygdala (the term is derived from a Greek word meaning almond) comprises a group of nuclei located in the inner frontal part of the temporal lobes just anterior to the hippocampal formation (see Figure 1). Arguably, no other region of the brain is as crucial for human emotional behavior, and although the function of the amygdala defies a simple definition, it is clearly involved in assessing, learning, and responding to emotionally significant events. Put another way, the amygdala determines whether something is safe, pleasurable, desirable, or threatening, and determines the appropriate response. For this reason, the amygdala has been dubbed “the heart and soul of the brain’s emotional network” by Joseph LeDoux.

Figure 1 The Nuclei of the Amygdala

Source: Image by Charlotte Caswell.

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