Encoding of emotional memories depends on amygdala and hippocampus and their interactions

Nat Neurosci. 2004 Mar;7(3):278-85. doi: 10.1038/nn1190. Epub 2004 Feb 1.


We have studied patients with variable degrees of left hippocampal and amygdala pathology who performed a verbal encoding task during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess the impact of pathology on emotional-memory performance and encoding-evoked activity. The severity of left hippocampal pathology predicted memory performance for neutral and emotional items alike, whereas the severity of amygdala pathology predicted memory performance for emotional items alone. Encoding-related hippocampal activity for successfully remembered emotional items correlated with the degree of left amygdala pathology. Conversely, amygdala-evoked activity with respect to subsequently remembered emotional items correlated with the degree of left hippocampal pathology. Our data indicate a reciprocal dependence between amygdala and hippocampus during the encoding of emotional memories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amygdala / anatomy & histology
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries / psychology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory Disorders / pathology
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology
  • Memory Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Predictive Value of Tests