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The amygdala and its relation to autism, behavioural disorders and other neurodevelopmental disorders
The amygdala is related with the recognition of the emotional meaning of stimuli, long-term memory, the orientation of social stimuli and the perception of gaze orientation. It plays a fundamental role in the recognition of faces, especially those expressing fear, and makes it possible to comprehend different emotional states, which will facilitate an appropriate social cognition. Dysfunctions of the amygdala have been associated to a number of different neurodevelopmental disorders as well as neurocognitive and behavioural disorders in specific neurogenetic entities. A number of studies focused on the amygdalic complex have allowed researchers to understand many pathophysiological aspects and to formulate new hypotheses regarding their origins. Given that the disorders or conditions in which the role of the amygdala has been evoked are becoming increasingly more extensive, this article refers the reader to those that have aroused the most interest in recent years. Thus, they can be divided into two groups: developmental and behavioural disorders (autism, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, alexithymia and anorexia nervosa) and specific neurogenetic entities (fragile X, Rett, Prader-Willi and Williams syndromes), in which structural or dysfunctional alterations have been observed that may be related with their neurocognitive and behavioural symptoms. It is important to remember that the amygdala is a highly connected structure that forms truly functional networks and has been associated to different disorders with varied explanations and includes several different pathophysiological phenomena. Its role must not, therefore, be simplified in a reductionistic manner, but also placed upon a hierarchy of dysfunctions in other areas that interact with it.
AlexithymiaAmygdalaAnorexia nervosaAutismFragile X syndromePrader-Willi syndromeRett syndromeWilliams syndromeNeuropediatríaNeuropsiquiatría