Intouch with the Brain – Amygdale, Hippocampus, Prefrontal Cortex

Amygdalus – Implicit Memory:

  • present at birth
  • includes emotional, behavioral, perceptual and possibly body memory
  • no sense of recollection (time) present when memories recalled
  • conscious attention is not required for encoding
  • does not involve the hippo-campus

Hippo-campus – Explicit Memory:

  • requires conscious attention
  • includes semantic(factual) and episodic(autobiographical) memory
  • develops during the second year of life and beyond
  • sense of recollection present when recalled
  • if autobiographical, a sense of self and time and present
  • if autobiographical, also involves the prefrontal cortex

Prefrontal Cortex

  • regulation of body systems
  • attuning to others
  • balancing emotions
  • modulating fear
  • responding flexibly
  • exhibiting insight and empathy
  • paying attention to the body’s wisdom
  • morality

When we are triggered beyond our window of tolerance our pre-frontal cortex function stops.  It simply leaves and we are left in responses of the Amygdala (fight or flight).  If our reactions shifts into freeze our brain response has moved into the hippo-campus and with no sense of time and into helplessness.

I understand empathy has been an effective tool to balance out the responses of hippo-campus and amygdala.  They are able to recover and calm our prefrontal cortex.  As we develop empathy it increases connections back and forth between our right and left brains therefore increases our windows of tolerance.  I have also heard that empathy may have a direct link in the amygdala’s ability to accelerate the vagus nerve.

This goes beyond simply a reaction and includes the activation of our  parasympathetic system through the vagus nerve.  See diagram below to get an idea of the areas that become aroused as when we are stimulated.

These reactions includes our motor control.  As we surpass our window of tolerance we begin to lose our fine motor control.  We begin to lose our ability for tracking,  to focus and mind-fully integrate. This involves our ability for self connection, to feel safe, grounded and to be present in the now.

There are  theories to suggest the Amygdala is the accelerator through the 3 channels of the vagus nerve that controls our fight, flight and freeze experience and the quickest tool to connect to the Amygdala is through empathy.

The intent of this article is in the context of how  communication and movement can support the decrease of anxiety, stress & fear. Values & Empathy integration in communication for transforming disconnection into connection and movement for calming one’s nervous system.

Read more on:

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Feldenkrias Movement Benefits 

InTouch on Empathy and our Brain‘ 

InTouch on the Brain – ‘Reactions to Stress’

InTouch with the Brain – Amygdale, Hippocampus, Prefrontal Cortext


#yyj Classes                     Private Integration Sessions

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Renee Lindstrom, GCFP,
Feldenkrais® Practitioner since 2007, Communication,  Empathy,  Values Coach since 2004, Art of Placement  since 2000, Labyrinths of Victoria since 2012, #yyj Peace Week Grassroots Calendar Founder, Vice-Chair of World Children’s Summit on Peace & Nature in 2015

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One response to “Intouch with the Brain – Amygdale, Hippocampus, Prefrontal Cortex

  1. Pingback: Connecting stress, adrenal glands, empathy, movement and sleep sweet sleep | Inside Awareness Blog

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