The ability to understand the relevance of environmental cues is necessary for animals to adapt and survive. How the brain interprets, understands, and reacts to stimuli is only partially understood. Such higher‐order brain processes occur within series of highly interconnected brain circuits that allow the brain to alter its response appropriately to an ever changing environment. The amygdala is one of the brain regions that determine the significance of incoming environmental stimuli. Once the significance of a stimulus or set of stimuli is determined, other circuits utilize this information to initiate physiological and behavioral responses (e.g., alter the attention of the animal to relevant sensory cues, change the emotional state, initiate fight or flight responses, etc.). Because circuits between the amygdala and other brain regions are highly interconnected, dysfunctions in one region of the brain can influence several other brain regions. Such alterations in normal activity can induce psychiatric, psychosocial, or attentional symptomatology. Therefore, identifying the role of individual circuits as well as the interconnected nature of these circuits is essential for understanding how a normal individual survives and adapts to its environment. It also provides the knowledge necessary to devise therapies for both the cause and symptoms of psychosis.
Part of the book: The Amygdala