Relationship of Amygdala to Fear and Pain

Amygdala is the name of a collection of nuclei found in the anterior portion of the temporal lobe. It receives projections from the frontal cortex, association cortex, temporal lobe, olfactory system and other parts of the limbic system. It sends afferants to frontal, prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, hypothalamus, hippocampus and brainstem nuclei.

The amygdala when confronted with fearful sensory input from the outside as well as from viscera inside sends signals through the hippocampus and the amygdala and shuts down the periaquaductal grey centers. At this juncture, the fear affects eyesight, muscles, fascia, TMJ, and the systems of breathing and autonomic functioning.

The sensory pathways diverge, one going to the amygdala and the other to the cortex. In the cortex we analyze fear, although once an emotion is turned on, it is difficult for the cortex to turn it off.

Recent brain imaging and neuroscience research have revealed the pathways to create resolution, decision making, modulating and expression of these stressors for new found freedom from fear and panic, pain, and conflict which lead to states of joy, satisfaction and increased brain functioning.