The amygdala is involved in the way you experience fear and process fearful memories and is also linked to feelings of dread and despair. Disrupted neural connections within it have been connected to anxiety disorder.
Until a recent announcement from researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia, the only brain area we knew about that produced new cells was the hippocampus, which is linked to spatial learning and memory.
“While it was previously known that new neurons are produced in the adult brain, excitingly this is the first time that new cells have been discovered in the amygdala,” said Pankaj Sah, director of the Queensland Brain Institute.
The Queensland study, which focused specifically on mouse brains, was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. In their discussion, the authors point to other studies that suggest the process of generating new cells may apply to humans as well.
If it does, the discovery may open the way for new treatments for PTSD and similar disorders, which are linked to disrupted connections in the amygdala.
“Finding ways of stimulating the production of new brain cells in the amygdala could give us new avenues for treating disorders of fear processing, which include anxiety, PTSD and depression,” according to researcher Dhanisha Jhaveri.