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December 07, 2012
If you wrote a song, it would be called, “Memories are made of this.”
Then again, it was a song and the reason they didn’t mention the amygdala is they probably couldn’t find a rhyme for it.
Although probably a better reason is that science hadn't yet discovered its full powers.
In case you haven't perused Gray's Anatomy (the book, not the TV show) lately, the amygdala is the almond shaped group of neurons in the brain's limbic system, and we now know it's where deep-rooted emotions are stored.
It's why you remember what you had for breakfast 30 years ago when a shocking event happened, or why you remember every detail about the first time you had sex.
And it's constantly making new memories.
Danger in the outside world travels through neural pathways that send information to the amygdala to help you remove yourself quickly in fearful situations.
(Invaluable, for instance, if you come across a bear in the woods.)
If that were it, the amygdala would be valuable enough, but it also functions as a "pleasure center" that reputedly, if anyone asks, produces euphoria by enhancing dopamine action.
I’m not sure what all this means, but it has been discovered that in men the right amygdala is the most active and in women the left amygdala.
Draw your own conclusion.
The same fact is why more men respond to visual sexually arousing stimuli than women.
In other words, with men, one picture is probably worth an infinite number of words.
That amygdala activity also makes you more prone to “love at first sight” and its companion, "hate at first sight."
And thanks to my amygdala, since I derive pleasure and fear in what I'm doing, I have successfully remembered why I started this post.
I don’t mean to pry, but those vivid memories. Fear, Pleasure. First sex, which is somewhere in between those two...you know, all those old memories your amygdala is revisiting as you read this. Are they just as intense today as they ever were?
And, if you care to share, there are many amygdalas out there that would appreciate and remember what you have to say.