Book Definition: A limbic system structure involved in memory and emotion, particularly fear and aggression.


  • Its function was first revealed by Heinrich Kluver and Paul Bucy In 1939.

In Your Own Words

  • The amygdala is an almond-sized and shaped brain structure linked with a person's mental and emotional state.
  • Located beneath the surface on the front, medical part of the temporal lobe.
  • Part of the brain that monitors the blood.
  • Works with the reticular formation to monitor incoming info.


  • Remembering the day your grandmother died, which was an emotional experience.
  • Walking to your car at night and seeing a person walking up to you that looks suspicious, your immediate reaction is to fear what they will do to you if you don't get in your car quick!
  • If a dog attacks you, you remember and become scared next time you see or come across a dog.
  • You instantly get mad when you hear a friend was talking about you.
  • When your mood changes because your heard someone was moving your stuff out of the way without asking.
  • Remembering emotionally-charged events like 9-11.
  • Associated with flash-bulb memories.
  • Being scared of big white trucks when you see one because you were chased by one when you were little.
  • As a teenager, we use the amygdala to form our initial reactions, which is why most of our actions are impulsive and caused by emotion.
  • Crying when you remember the emotional ending of your favorite television series.
  • Amygdala
Location of the amygdala in the human brain


  • An experiment was conducted involving participants told to both write and read stories of events that either they intentionally, or accidentally did- or witnessed that violated social norms. The participants did this while being monitored in a FMRI. It was found that the activity in the amygdala was heightened when participants read stories of their own intentional experiences, as compared when they read other participants stories. Researchers found that this heightened reaction was connected to reward and punishment associated with the intentional violation, whereas accidental violations had less of a response, and other stories had little reaction. Accidents that occur have less punishment associated with them in society than intentional violation. The researchers concluded that the amygdala's response to ones own intentional violation of social norms is connected to preserving personal well being, and that the amygdala also functions to weigh the possible reward or punishment of an intentional action in concern for personal well being.