For centuries philosophical and clinical studies have emphasized a fundamental dichotomy between emotion and cognition, as, for instance, between behavioral/emotional memory and explicit/representative memory. However, the last few decades cognitive neuroscience have highlighted data indicating that emotion and cognition, as well as their underlying neural networks, are in fact in close interaction. First, it turns out that emotion can serve cognition, as exemplified by its critical contribution to decision-making or to the enhancement of episodic memory. Second, it is also observed that reciprocally cognitive processes as reasoning, conscious appraisal or explicit representation of events can modulate emotional responses, like promoting or reducing fear. Third, neurobiological data indicate that reciprocal amygdalar-hippocampal influences underlie such mutual regulation of emotion and cognition. While supporting this view, the present review discusses experimental data, obtained in rodents, indicating that the hippocampal and amygdalar systems not only regulate each other and their functional outcomes, but also qualify specific emotional memory representations through specific activations and interactions. Specifically, we review consistent behavioral, electrophysiological, pharmacological, biochemical and imaging data unveiling a direct contribution of both the amygdala and hippocampal-septal system to the identification of the predictor of a threat in different situations of fear conditioning. Our suggestion is that these two brain systems and their interplay determine the selection of relevant emotional stimuli, thereby contributing to the adaptive value of emotional memory. Hence, beyond the mutual quantitative regulation of these two brain systems described so far, we develop the idea that different activations of the hippocampus and amygdala, leading to specific configurations of neural activity, qualitatively impact the formation of emotional memory representations, thereby producing either adaptive or maladaptive fear memories.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor and Francis.
- emotional memory
- fear conditioning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Behavioral Neuroscience