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Emotion refers to the dynamic changes of feeling accompanied by the alteration of physical and visceral activities. Autonomic nervous system (sympathetic and parasympathetic) regulates the visceral activities. Therefore, monitoring and analyzing autonomic nervous activity help understand the emotional changes. To this end, the survey of the expression of immediate early genes (IEGs), such as c-Fos in the brain and target organs, and the viral transneuronal labeling method using the pseudorabies virus (PRV) have enabled the visualization of the neurocircuitry of emotion. By comparing c-Fos expression and data from PRV or other neuroanatomical labeling techniques, the central sites that regulate emotional stress-induced autonomic activation can be deduced. Such regions have been identified in the limbic system (e. g., the extended amygdaloid complex; lateral septum; and infralimbic, insular, and ventromedial temporal cortical regions), as well as in several hypothalamic and brainstem nuclei. The amygdala is structurally diverse and comprises several subnuclei, which play a role in emotional process via projections from the cortex and a variety of subcortical structures. All amygdaloid subnuclei receive psychological information from other limbic systems, while the lateral and central subnuclei receive peripheral and sensory information. Output to the hypothalamus and peripheral sympathetic system mainly originates from the medial amygdala. As estrogen receptor α, estrogen receptor β, and androgen receptor are expressed in the medial amygdala, sex steroids may modulate the autonomic nervous activities.


Takashi Ueyama. Emotion, amygdala, and autonomic nervous system]. Brain and nerve = Shinkei kenkyū no shinpo. 2012 Oct;64(10):1113-9

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PMID: 23037602

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