Encoding of emotional memories depends on amygdala and hippocampus and their interactions.
We have studied patients with variable degrees of left hippocampal and amygdala pathology who performed a verbal encoding task during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess the impact of pathology on emotional-memory performance and encoding-evoked activity. The severity of left hippocampal pathology predicted memory performance for neutral and emotional items alike, whereas the severity of amygdala pathology predicted memory performance for emotional items alone. Encoding-related hippocampal activity for successfully remembered emotional items correlated with the degree of left amygdala pathology. Conversely, amygdala-evoked activity with respect to subsequently remembered emotional items correlated with the degree of left hippocampal pathology. Our data indicate a reciprocal dependence between amygdala and hippocampus during the encoding of emotional memories.