A Review On Abnormal Amygdala

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Review: Abnormal Amygdala Activation Profile in Pedophilia

Typically the amygdala is involved in the normal function of interpreting and displaying emotions, memory and fear-conditioning. The amygdala has been found to impact encoding and storage of memories in the hippocampus that are formed during emotional situations. Through such, the hippocampus forms episodic memories based on the amygdala’s interpretation of a particular event and any surrounding emotional stimuli. The ability to properly form memories, experience fear in appropriate situations, and understand and express emotions is critical for an individual to function in society and uphold tenets of the social contract which prevent most people from committing crime.
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While we no longer lock people up just for the “crime” of mental health issues, there are still some conditions, like pedophilia, for which there is little compassion, understanding, and a willingness to find viable treatment options. The biggest problem with that attitude toward pedophilia is that children are still being victimized.
My interest in the amygdala study is personal in that I have close relationships with people who have been victims of pedophilia, as well as academic. It is interesting that the scientific community has been so reluctant to study pedophilia with an open mind in an effort to prevent child sexual abuse since it is an issue that continues to plague our society. The way the system in the U.S. is structured exacerbates the problem; the mandatory reporting laws are strong deterrents to pedophiles who might otherwise seek professional help to prevent themselves from offending. If continued research produces promising results in the quest for viable treatment options, the system could perhaps eventually be restructured to encourage pedophiles to seek treatment before offending.
Because the amygdala is critical to emotional processing, researchers suspected it would play a role in sexual behavior. To test their theory, Sartorius et al. studied ten male pedophiles, all convicted sex offenders, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Researchers predicted that they would find significant differences in amygdala
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