The structural and functional connectivity of the amygdala: from normal emotion to pathological anxiety

Behav Brain Res. 2011 Oct 1;223(2):403-10. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.04.025. Epub 2011 Apr 22.


The dynamic interactions between the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) are usefully conceptualized as a circuit that both allows us to react automatically to biologically relevant predictive stimuli as well as regulate these reactions when the situation calls for it. In this review, we will begin by discussing the role of this amygdala-mPFC circuitry in the conditioning and extinction of aversive learning in animals. We will then relate these data to emotional regulation paradigms in humans. Finally, we will consider how these processes are compromised in normal and pathological anxiety. We conclude that the capacity for efficient crosstalk between the amygdala and the mPFC, which is represented as the strength of the amygdala-mPFC circuitry, is crucial to beneficial outcomes in terms of reported anxiety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / pathology*
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / pathology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Conditioning, Psychological
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Extinction, Psychological / physiology
  • Facial Expression
  • Fear / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neural Pathways / pathology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Social Environment
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / pathology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology