"Memories have huge staying power, but like dreams, they thrive in the dark, surviving for decades in the deep waters of our minds like shipwrecks on the sea bed. Hauling them into the daylight can be risky." (J.G. Ballard)
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Hi everybody!

In the past few months I have wondered how it is possible that we can store memories and what makes us experience feelings of fear. I ended up with the Hippocampus (memories) and the Amygdala (our alarm system).

The Hippocampus and the Amygdala are names of areas in our brain. In this article I want to share some of the very interestic knowledge I found in books, articles and movies on the internet.


"The brain is a world consisting of a number of unexplored continents and great stretches of unknown territory." (Santiago Ramón y Cajal)
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Our brain consists of 3 systems: the reptilian brain, lymbic system and the neocortex. The reptilian brain maintains basic bodily functions, the limbic system is also instinctive and deals with fear and pleasure. The neocortex is all about logic, imagination, planning and control.

The second part of your brain (your limbic system) is your map of the world. Your memory stays with you, it gets hardwired in that basic map of your brain. The Hippocampus and the Amygdala are part of your Limbic System.


Hippocampus means Seamonster (Latin) or Seahorse
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The hippocampus in our brain has the shape of a seahorse. The job of the hippocampus is to file memories. It is involved in the formation of long-term memory. Memories can be reached in different ways, like by music or by smell.

In times of danger, the hippocampus stops filing memories. Instead, the hippocampus is pomping cortisol, it stops on feeling pain.


"We are no superhero's. Having a brain makes us all vulnerable." (Bessel van der Kolk)
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The Amygdala is the keypart of the limbic system. His job is to see danger and sets of the alarm. When you meet somebody, you need assess if somebody is safe or dangerous. This part of the brain helps to assess if you can trust somebody.

Every area of this part of the brain gets damaged by early childhood trauma and neglect. Patiënts have a very hard time detecting who is safe and who is dangerous.

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I hope you enjoyed this knowledge. I want you to remember, your thinking, analysing, figuring things-out part in your neocortex has no pathways to the fear centre of the brain. You cannot talk yourself out of hating, you cannot talk yourself out of 'you-shouldn'nt-feel-this-way' or 'you-shouldn't-love-that-guy'.

Your rational brain has no access to your emotional brain, but your amygdala does have acces to your emotional brain, the fear centre in your animal survival brain. So if you've (irrational) fear, don't try to analyse but give yourself new and good experiences and memories, so you can rewire your brain and calm your amygdala down.

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  • Adventures in Memory, The Science and Secrets of Remembering and Forgetting (2018), Hilde Østby and Ylva Østby.
  • A New Map of Wonders, A journey in search of modern marvels (2017), Caspar Henderson.
  • YouTube. The body keeps the score:Brain, Mind, and Body in the healing of Trauma, Bessel van der Kolk, 22 may 2015
  • YouTube. Trauma and the brain. 21 september 2015