What is the amygdala?

Trends Neurosci. 1998 Aug;21(8):323-31. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(98)01265-x.


'Amygdala' and 'amygdalar complex' are terms that now refer to a highly differentiated region near the temporal pole of the mammalian cerebral hemisphere. Cell groups within it appear to be differentiated parts of the traditional cortex, the claustrum, or the striatum, and these parts belong to four obvious functional systems--accessory olfactory, main olfactory, autonomic and frontotemporal cortical. In rats, the central nucleus is a specialized autonomic-projecting motor region of the striatum, whereas the lateral and anterior basolateral nuclei together are a ventromedial extension of the claustrum for major regions of the temporal and frontal lobes. The rest of the amygdala forms association parts of the olfactory system (accessory and main), with cortical, claustral and striatal parts. Terms such as 'amygdala' and 'lenticular nucleus' combine cell groups arbitrarily rather than according to the structural and functional units to which they now seem to belong. The amygdala is neither a structural nor a functional unit.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / anatomy & histology
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / physiology