The amygdala: vigilance and emotion

Mol Psychiatry. 2001 Jan;6(1):13-34. doi: 10.1038/


Here we provide a review of the animal and human literature concerning the role of the amygdala in fear conditioning, considering its potential influence over autonomic and hormonal changes, motor behavior and attentional processes. A stimulus that predicts an aversive outcome will change neural transmission in the amygdala to produce the somatic, autonomic and endocrine signs of fear, as well as increased attention to that stimulus. It is now clear that the amygdala is also involved in learning about positively valenced stimuli as well as spatial and motor learning and this review strives to integrate this additional information. A review of available studies examining the human amygdala covers both lesion and electrical stimulation studies as well as the most recent functional neuroimaging studies. Where appropriate, we attempt to integrate basic information on normal amygdala function with our current understanding of psychiatric disorders, including pathological anxiety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans