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Random Facts about the Amygdala
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oceandrop
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:12 am    Post subject: Random Facts about the Amygdala Reply with quote

So the amygdala are regions of the brain thought to be different in people on the spectrum (especially AS).

Here's a couple of things I have read about them: -

- The amygdala are almond shaped structures, with one on each side of the brain; each is composed of up to 22 distinct regions.

- The amygdala are involved in processing of memory associated with emotional reactions (more emotion, better memory retention).

- The amygdala are associated with the fear circuit and the memory of fear (conditioned fear). When the amygdala are damaged (e.g. due to a lesion) fear disappears.

- In NTs the amygdala are activated in response to viewing faces and are thought to be involved in recognizing facial expressions. In people with AS, the amygdala are relatively inactive in response to viewing faces, and parts of the brain involved in recognising inanimate objects are activated instead.

- Buddhist monks who practice compassion meditation have decreased activity in specific regions of the amygdala.

- Activation of the amygdala has been shown to decrease trust (of others).

- When you witness a car crash, argue with your spouse or get yelled at by your boss, it’s your amygdala’s job to set off a cascade of stress-related reactions. When a distressing event is 'named' (e.g. the word 'angry' is attached), amygdala activity is reduced.

- People who describe themselves as 'mindful' showed less activation in the amygdala (and more activity in the areas that calm down emotional response, known as the prefrontal cortex).

I'm sure there are more too. I wonder what all this means for people on the spectrum? Are we natural meditators? Are our good memories somehow related to the way we experience positive emotions from special interests? etc.
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Aimless
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting. I read somewhere that the amygdala is behind difficulty with eye contact.
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Phoenix
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:54 am    Post subject: Re: Random Facts about the Amygdala Reply with quote

Quote:

In NTs the amygdala are activated in response to viewing faces and are thought to be involved in recognizing facial expressions. In people with AS, the amygdala are relatively inactive in response to viewing faces, and parts of the brain involved in recognising inanimate objects are activated instead.


I don't get this. Maybe there are different types of AS? I feel hyperattuned to peoples' facial expressions and when I'm drained from hyperfocussing on them I avoid their gazes but no problem recognizing expressions.

Quote:

When a distressing event is 'named' (e.g. the word 'angry' is attached), amygdala activity is reduced.


Interesting. Maybe cause a different part of the brain is being utilized to attach language to distress. Does that means it reduces distress or just relocates it processing to another area of the brain?
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AspieWolf
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fascinating Captain. I have practiced meditation for many years. Too, I am not trusting of people. Yes, they are all out to "get" me and you as well. I wonder how all of this fits in? There seem to be very many issues associated with AS that are worthy of serious scientific study, but that have not been well studied up to now. I can see lots of research topics for Masters and PhD candidates, as well as professionals.
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oceandrop
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So many questions to be answered indeed.

I was surprised by the connection with meditation. I've often felt I have a tendency to take emotion out of the equation and to approach situations with facts and logic, which seems difficult for NTs -- it's almost like their emotions come first.

I'm also very naive and trust others far too easily. I've been hurt badly with this recently (confiding my dreams/ambitions/plan to somebody I thought could be trusted who then went and stole my idea, sigh). I think the tendency to be too honest ties in which this whole naivety thing, and maybe the amygdala are to blame.
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Ettina
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Psychopaths have a lot of characteristics suggestive of amygdala damage. Traits shared by psychopaths and people with amygdala damage include:

* difficulty recognizing negative facial expressions but not positive ones

* inability to feel fear, or reduced ability to feel fear

* better emotion recognition if forced to make eye contact

* reduced sensitivity to aversive conditioning

The amygdala is also implicated in PTSD, in the opposite direction. PTSD is basically fear conditioning gone overboard.
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Mdyar
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's an ADHD application:

Quote:
The researchers also found that parts of an emotion-processing hub, the amygdala, were smaller in children with the disorder. The diminished size had a significant and positive correlation with severity of ADHD symptoms. In those with the disorder, researchers also observed poor connections between the amygdala and the pre-frontal cortex, which could contribute to problems with impulse control and goal-directed behaviors.

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