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The amygdala is one of two clusters of nuclei in the brain’s temporal lobes. They have an almond-like shape and are responsible for many important functions that involve emotional responses, decision-making, and processing memory. One amygdala lies in either hemisphere of the brain, and research suggests they are heavily involved with stress, anxiety, and fear. The amygdala remains relatively unknown, though there are many prevailing theories and ideas about the roles that this area of the brain plays.

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1. Nuclei

The amygdala is composed of at least 13 subnuclei. Of these subnuclei, experts understand three better than the others. The central nuclei regulate the fear response and control the release of certain hormones. The basal and lateral nuclei assist with learning and associative processes. Notably, the lateral nuclei receive audio and visual cues that may result in conditioned fear responses. Some experts classify the amygdala and its nuclei as part of the basal ganglia.

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