The amygdala (greek for “almond”) is an almond-shaped brain structure that plays a key role in the processing of emotions and mental functions. It is a part of the limbic system and is located in the brain’s temporal lobe a couple inches from either ear. The amygdala is involved in processing emotions such as fear, anger, and pleasure, and is also responsible for determining which and where memories are stored. To do this, it has several nerves connecting it to different parts of the brain that invoke a reaction to whatever situation stimulated it. These nerves include the neocortex and the visual cortex. Although the amygdala is very small, it plays a major role in the functioning of one’s brain and reactions.


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Everyone has a different response to fear and this is because of the size of their amygdala, but what if you had damaged your amygdala? A women who goes by the initials S.M. has damaged her amygdala completely and feels no fear. Even when a man held a knife to her throat, she remained completely at ease. She is aware she has no response to fear and she continues to live a relatively normal life. This extremely rare medical case gives scientists solid evidence that the amygdala does play a critical role for the feeling of emotions invoked by a stimuli.