Beyond Emotions: Oscillations of the Amygdala and Their Implications for Electrical Neuromodulation

Front Neurosci. 2019 Apr 18:13:366. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00366. eCollection 2019.


The amygdala is a structure involved in emotions, fear, learning and memory and is highly interconnected with other brain regions, for example the motor cortex and the basal ganglia that are often targets of treatments involving electrical stimulation. Deep brain stimulation of the basal ganglia is successfully used to treat movement disorders, but can carry along non-motor side effects. The origin of these non-motor side effects is not fully understood yet, but might be altered oscillatory communication between specific motor areas and the amygdala. Oscillations in various frequency bands have been detected in the amygdala during cognitive and emotional tasks, which can couple with oscillations in cortical regions or the hippocampus. However, data on oscillatory coupling between the amygdala and motor areas are still lacking. This review provides a summary of oscillation frequencies measured in the amygdala and their possible functional relevance in different species, followed by evidence for connectivity between the amygdala and motor areas, such as the basal ganglia and the motor cortex. We hypothesize that the amygdala could communicate with motor areas through coherence of low frequency bands in the theta-alpha range. Furthermore, we discuss a potential role of the amygdala in therapeutic approaches based on electrical stimulation.

Keywords: amygdala; basal ganglia; deep brain stimulation; neuromodulation; oscillations.

Publication types

  • Review