The amygdala complex has long been known as part of the neural circuitry critical for emotion. Beyond its role in emotional reactivity, studies of animal models and patients with amygdala damage demonstrate its importance in emotional learning, whereby cues acquire significance through association with rewarding or aversive events. Although its function in associative learning has become well established, other recent research has advanced the concept that the amygdala regulates additional cognitive processes, such as memory or attention. For example, a correspondence in the function of the amygdala has recently been shown in the modulation of memory in humans and laboratory animals. The use of animal models has progressively defined the circuitry for these functions within the amygdala and its interconnections with other brain systems, including pathways through which the amygdala modulates memory and regulates attention. These various lines of research are progressively advancing our understanding of the amygdala's role in providing linkages between affect and cognition.
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