Scientists Say: Amygdala | Science News for Students

Scientists Say: Amygdala

This part of the brain helps us process emotions and form memories
Jul 3, 2017 — 6:50 am EST

This is a slice of brain seen through a scan that looked through a person’s face and into their head. The right amygdala is highlighted in red.

Amber Rieder, Jenna Traynor, Geoffrey B Hall/Wikimedia Commons (CC0 1.0)

Amygdala (noun, “ah-MIG-dah-la”, plural “amygdalae”)

This part of the brain plays a role in memory, decision making and emotions, such as fear. Each person has an amygdala on either side of their head. They are located near the center of the brain a little above the ears. The amygdala gets its name from the Greek word “amygdalo.” It means “almond.” Each amygdala is shaped a little like the tasty nut.

In a sentence

Kids with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have smaller amygdalae than people without ADHD.

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Power Words

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amygdala     An area deep within the brain and near the temporal lobe. Among other things, the amygdala plays a role in emotions. The term comes from the Greek word for an almond, which this region resembles in shape.

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)   This is a disorder characterized by not being able to focus or pay attention, being physically overactive, not being able to control behavior, or a combination of these.

disorder     (in medicine) A condition where the body does not work appropriately, leading to what might be viewed as an illness. This term can sometimes be used interchangeably with disease.

nut     (in biology) The edible seed of a plant, which is usually encased in a hard protective shell. 


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