Anxious Amygdala

What is the Amygdala? 

The Brain has been an interesting thing to me for ages, and my curiosity led me to learn about Neuroscience and understanding the brain and how you can rewire it and communicate with its different complex parts. Specifically, the Amygdala caught much of my attention. This Article is introductory, for later posts which will focus on how to rewire your brain, and overcome defeating emotions, such as Anxiety.

Everything Essential in human evolution took place aeons ago of which we know nothing: during these man may not have changed very much… Yet everything evolved: there are no eternal facts as there are no absolute truths. – Human All Too Human – Neitzche 

So what is the Amygdala?

  • An ancient structure that is strategically located in the central area of the brain 
    • Two small almond-shaped structures on each side of the brain
    • Lateral nucleus: Stores and forms emotional memories that you might not necessarily have knowledge or awareness
      • Decision-making based on emotional memories
      • Scan Sensory information and determine if there is a threat
      • Receives information from senses and forms emotional memories
    • Central Nucleus: Initiates stress response 
  • Responsible and triggering the ancient Fight/Flight/Freeze response
    • Protector-Central goal. On a lookout for danger
  • Neurologically capable to override other brain processes and take charge 
    • Like the conductor of an orchestra, controlling many different reactions in the brain and body
    • Connected to numerous parts of the brain, that allows it to mobilize a variety of bodily reactions quickly
  • Rely on preprogrammed responses and exquisitely sensitive to what happens to you and respond to specific experiences
    • Evolutionarily preprogrammed: E.g. Prone to interpret eyes watching as a dangerous situation, as the risk of rejection by the group of observers comes from ancient fear of being rejected by one’s clan
    • Operating on lessons it learned in pre-historic times

  • Fast:  Operates much quicker than the Cortex ( more on it later)
    • The “Thalmus” another part that receives sensory information from the environment, have a direct channel to the Amygdala, so it can react and feel before you even process the information.
  • Emotional Processer – Has a profound effect on behavior 
  • Constantly learning and changing based on day-to-day experiences
  • Activation causes:
    • Increased heart rate 
    • Pupils dilate 
    • Muscle Tense 
    • Energized body and ready for action
  • Language:
    • Association-based method of communication between the amygdala and the outside world
      • Associations between events in close proximity in time
      • Pairings focused, on any object 
    • Based on experience and creating connections between neurons 
    • Experience: The Amygdala needs experience with the object/situation for new learning. You need to show experience with it
  • Isn’t Logical – Based on emotions and associations 
    • Attaching emotional significance to situations or objects to form emotional memories 
    • Amygdala-based memory is directly experienced as an emotional state 
  • Activate to generate:
    • You need to activate its circuits to generate new associations and neurological channels 
    • Necessary to accept the experience of anxiety/fear for new learning to occur – That it’s safe and escape isn’t needed

Learning and knowing about how the Amygdala works, gives you the advantage to change its wiring – like anxious reactions.  

From Rewire Your Anxious Brain

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *