The amygdala in health and disease: contributions to emotional memories The amygdala, a temporal lobe structure that forms part of the limbic system, plays a key role in emotional processing. Its relevance to fear and anxiety in animals has been well known since the classic experiments of Kluver and Bucy, who made mid-temporal lesions in monkeys and found profound effects on the emotional and social behavior of these animals. Focus on studies of the amygdala expanded greatly when its role in fear conditioning was established. Fear conditioning is a simple Pavlovian conditioning task in which a neutral stimulus is contingently paired with an aversive stimulus. The simple nature of this learning task, and the readily measured physiological changes that accompany it, have made the study of fear conditioning a very attractive target for the study of learning and memory consolidation. As the neural circuitry that underlies fear conditioning is simple and appears to be preserved between species, it presents an accessible model for the study of learning and memory formation in the mammalian nervous system. The physiological similarities between animal and human fear makes fear conditioning very relevant to the genesis of anxiety disorders in humans. Moreover, recent research indicates that changes in amygdala function may contribute more generally to pathological forms of emotional learning such as drug addiction. Interest in amygdala function has therefore attracted growing interest in both animal and human experiments using both simple behavioral tests and functional imaging. This conference is the first Gordon conference on Amygdala function and will focus on research investigating the role of the amygdala in the formation of emotional memories, both normal and pathological. It will cover the physiological aspects of this memory formation in animal studies at the electrophysiological, molecular and behavioral level. The pathological aspects of amygdala function will be covered by speakers working on human subjects and will address both functional and pathological aspects of emotional processing as well as the relationship between animal and human studies of amygdala function. This application is to provide funding for a new conference on the amygdala, a structure that is involved in processing of emotion related information. Dysfunction of this structure is thought to lead to a variety of anxiety related disorders such as post traumatic stress and panic attacks. This conference will bring together a range of experts from scientists to clinicians to discuss current advances in the function and dysfunction of the amygdala.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-CNF-Q (02))
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Vicentic, Aleksandra
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Gordon Research Conferences
West Kingston
United States
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