The Amygdala is a nut shaped area of the limbic system associated with survival. It sorts through input from the senses, including course grain images from the eyes, looking for signs of danger. It assesses sensory input by association, ie. looking for images and events that in the past caused emotional stress.
Where danger is perceived it prompts a fight/ flight response. This system works particularly fast, providing our immediate reaction to an event. The processing is completely subconscious, our only awareness that something has taken place is when we suddenly feel an emotion, such as fear, associated with a particular event. The amygdala links with the rest of the limbic system and can prompt a stress response, which includes:
- increased heart rate, breathing rate, and metabolic rate;
- slower digestion;
- more blood distributed to the muscles;
- front brain/ reasoning centres turn down or off.
The amygdala is often to blame when we react to a stimulus without thinking. Part of the survival stress response is less front brain activity and that makes it hard to think clearly. Thus, when the amygdala is overactive we may feel that we over-react to a stimulus rather than provide a measured response.
The amygdala reaction to events is relevant for many brain function problems including phobias, addictions, aversion to certain situations such as study, fear of the dark, speaking in front of audiences, speaking to different groups of people etc.
There are various theories as to what emotions are associated with the amygdala. VHS use points that have particularly strong traditional associations with survival based emotions of: rage, fear, fright, pleasure, fight/flight.
Amygdaloid Emotions - Mode: Fists
Front of body
Back of Body