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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1994 Fall;18(3):385-96.

Allostasis, amygdala, and anticipatory angst.

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Clinical Neuroendocrinology Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Regions of the amygdala are involved in anticipation of negative events. Chronic anticipation of negative events leads to what we call allostatic load, or arousal pathology. Two hormones appear to be involved in arousal pathology; corticotropin-releasing hormone in the brain and glucocorticoids. We suggest that increases in corticotropin-releasing hormone, by stress or glucocorticoids, in the amygdala may have functional consequences for allostatic load. Whereas, corticotropin-releasing hormone in the parvocellular region of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus is decreased by glucocorticoids thereby under negative feedback and homeostatic control, the central nucleus of the amygdala is to some extent under positive feedback and is increased by glucocorticoids, and perhaps under allostatic control. The human and animal literature suggest that a variety of psychopathologies (e.g., melancholia) may be tied to neurohormonal signals activating regions of the amygdala.

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