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What Part Of The Brain Is The Limbic System

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Essential Oils And The Limbic System

The Limbic System

The limbic system gathers information from the environment through sensory information. As youve experienced firsthand many times, your senses can alter your emotional state rapidly. For example, a pleasurable meal can make you feel comforted, and very loud noises can make you feel anxious.

Ever wonder why certain smells conjure up memories and even physical feelings so vividly? Our sense of smell is unique compared to our other senses because it bypasses parts of the brain that other types of sensory information often cannot. Because of this, smells can often cause immediate and strong emotional reactions based on memories. Smells can bring us back to past events within milliseconds, making us feel a certain way based on past events, whether we realize why were suddenly feeling that way or not.

Essential oils, for example, can have dramatic effects on limbic function and how you feel. This is true because the strong fragrances they hold, which are found inside volatile molecules that can make their way into your bloodstream, travel directly through the blood/brain barrier very quickly.

What Are The Major Functions Of The Limbic System

The limbic system is a part of the brain that deals with three major functions:

  • Emotions

The limbic system comprises several parts.

Limbic lobe

It is the first significant lobe of the limbic system. The two parts of this region include:

  • Cingulate gyrus: It regulates both autonomic and conscious function. Its functions include:
  • An increase in heart rate during a threat in the environment.
  • Taking voluntary choices, such as the decision to react to a threat by fighting or running away.
  • Parahippocampal gyrus: It deals with spatial memory or memory. It has a role in dealing with location and navigation to reach a specific place.
  • Thalamus

    The key function of the thalamus involves detecting and transmitting senses, such as sight, sound, taste, and touch. It organizes the information and sends it to the areas in the brain where the suitable response would be elicited. The thalamus also has a role in pain perception. So, any kind of pain, physical or emotional, is processed here.


    It is the vital portion of the limbic system. Hypothalamus is responsible for producing various hormones required by the body. It also has various stations, which control the following functions:

    • Controlling water levels in the body

    They are two almond-shaped structures present in the limbic system. Amygdala is responsible for:


    The hippocampus is a horn-shaped structure present in the limbic system. The central function of the hippocampus is to:

    Basal ganglia

    • Reward processing

    Damage To The Limbic System

    Damage to the limbic system is dependant on which region is affected. Amygdala damage could affect a personâs fear processing , which could result in more risk-taking behaviors and putting themselves in dangerous situations.

    Damage to the hippocampus could lead to deficits in being able to learn anything new, as well as affecting memory.

    Hypothalamus damage can affect the production of certain hormones, including those which can affect mood and emotion.

    Below is a non-exhaustive list of symptoms associated with limbic system damage:

    • Uncontrolled emotions â more aggression, anxiety, and agitation.
    • Olfactory impairments
    • Alzheimerâs disease
    • Movement disorders â Huntingtonâs and Parkinsonâs disease

    A potential treatment for limbic impairments is deep brain stimulation . Successful treatment of some cognitive disorders such as anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder has come from DBS of the amygdala.

    DBS has also shown to be useful in targeting the nucleus accumbens in relation to drug addiction .

    Similarly, the use of antidepressant medications has shown links with restoring the underlying physiological differences in the limbic system in major depressive disorder .

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    Ways The Limbic System Impacts Physical Emotional And Mental Health

    The limbic system is a set of brain structures that plays a role in emotions, particularly those that evolved early and which play an important role in survival.

    Research has linked the limbic system to feelings of motivation and reward, learning, memory, the fight or flight response, hunger, thirst, and production of hormones that help regulate the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system supports automatic, non-conscious functions such as thirst, hunger, heart rate, and regulating the bodys internal clock.

    How To Keep The Limbic System Healthy

    The Human Limbic System: The Brain

    In order to maintain homeostasis and feel your best, the goal is to balance activities of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. Too much activation of one causes high amounts of anxiety, but too much of the other causes low motivation and symptoms like fatigue. Here are ways to help keep your limbic system functioning smoothly.

    Use Soothing or Uplifting Essential Oils

    When used in aromatherapy , there is evidence that essential oils are absorbed into the bloodstream and then trigger the hippocampus. This is mostly due to the amount of blood vessels in the lungs that take up the oils and then circulate them throughout the body, including to the brain.

    Using a diffuser can help you experience the benefits of essential oils, or you can directly inhale them from the bottle or a cotton swab. You can diffuse lavender to reduce stress, melaleuca to cleanse the air, wild orange to improve your overall mood, frankincense for spiritual enlightenment, and peppermint essential oil to improve focus and energy.

    Practice Deep Breathing

    Deep breathing exercises coupled with intentional relaxation of muscles engages the circuitry of the PNS and strengthens it for future use. Relaxing/deep breathing also quiets the fight-or-flight SNS, since relaxed muscles send feedback to the alarm centers in the brain that there are no threats present.

    Try Visualizations or Guided Imagery


    Make a Habit of Being Mindful, Still and Silent

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    History Of The Limbic System

    The first time the term was used was in 1878 by the doctor Paul Broca who used it to refer to an area located at the bottom edge of the pineal area. In 1890, Henry Turner called the parts of the limbic system as the nasal encephalon and later, in 1937, James Papez included more structures and even introduced the term limbic brain.

    The concept of the limbic system was finally expanded by scientists such as Goldar, Heimer and Nauta. In psychology, during the twentieth century, the system has been considered as the subconscious and thinking system of the human being.

    Characteristics Of The Limbic System

    The main features of the limbic system are as follows:

    • It is a neural network distributed throughout the brain and mixed with many different structures.
    • It is related to emotional responses, learning and memory.
    • The personality, memories and our way of being, depends to a great extent on the limbic system.
    • It also intervenes in the creation of long-term memory.
    • Regulate visceral activity and emotional response from sensory information.
    • It regulates the character of individuals.
    • It also acts on the peripheral nervous system.
    • The word limbic has etymological root in the Latin word limbus which has as meaning edge or limit.
    • It is the oldest part of the brain seen from the evolutionary point of view.

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    What Part Of The Brain Controls Anger

    Much like fear, anger is a response to threats or stressors in your environment. When youre in a situation that seems dangerous and you cant escape, youll likely respond with anger or aggression. You can think of the anger response and the fight as part of the fight-or-flight response.

    Frustration, such as facing roadblocks while trying to achieve a goal, can also trigger the anger response.

    Anger starts with the amygdala stimulating the hypothalamus, much like in the fear response. In addition, parts of the prefrontal cortex may also play a role in anger. People with damage to this area often have trouble controlling their emotions, especially anger and aggression.

    Parts of the prefrontal cortex of the brain may also contribute to the regulation of an anger response. People with damage to this area of the brain sometimes

    What Parts Of The Brain Are In The Limbic System

    Lesson 41 – Parts of the Brain & Limbic System

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    . Consequently, what part of the brain is the limbic system located?

    The limbic system, also known as the paleomammalian cortex, is a set of brain structures located on both sides of the thalamus, immediately beneath the medial temporal lobe of the cerebrum primarily in the forebrain.

    Also, what are the three areas of the brain that are part of the limbic system and control emotions? It regulates autonomic or endocrine function in response to emotional stimuli and also is involved in reinforcing behavior . The limbic system is composed of four main parts: the hypothalamus, the amygdala, the thalamus, and the hippocampus.

    People also ask, what are the parts of the limbic system and their functions?

    The primary structures within the limbic system include the amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, hypothalamus, basal ganglia, and cingulate gyrus. The amygdala is the emotion center of the brain, while the hippocampus plays an essential role in the formation of new memories about past experiences.

    Is the Pons part of the limbic system?

    The brain stem, the most primitive part of the brain, is made up of the medulla, pons, cerebellum, midbrain, hypothalamus and thalamus. The cerebral cortex, limbic system and basal ganglia make up the forebrain. The forebrain deals with homeostasis, emotions and conscious actions.

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    Is The Limbic System Really That Important To Our Survival

    As weve seen, this system is responsible for many functions. This includes those essential for survival, especially in when we talk about the hypothalamus. We couldnt live without it. Here are some examples of diseases that can occur if you injure any of the structures that make up this system:

    • Alzheimers: produced by a degeneration of different brain structures, especially the hippocampus. Causes progressive loss of memory among other symptoms.
    • Kluver-Bucy syndrome: involves the amygdala and temporal lobes bilaterally. It produces agnosia or lack of visual recognition, hypersexuality, and hyperphagia, among other symptoms.
    • Amnesia: mainly antegrade due to involvement of the hippocampus.
    • Alexithymia: characterized by an inability to express and recognize emotions, both of ones own and others.

    These illnesses, along with many others, illustrate the importance of the limbic system. We can see how it affects our behavior, from memory to things as basic as hunger. The limbic system is of the utmost importance in our brain.

    What Is The Amygdala And What Does It Do

    The amygdala is recognized as a component of the limbic system, and is thought to play important roles in emotion and behavior. It is best known for its role in the processing of fear, although as well see, this is an oversimplified perspective on amygdala function.

    Our modern understanding of amygdala function can be traced back to the 1930s, when Heinrich Kluver and Paul Bucy removed the amygdalae of rhesus monkeys and saw drastic effects on behavior. Among other things, the monkeys became more docile and seemed to display little fear. The constellation of behavior that resulted from amygdalae removal was called Kluver-Bucy syndrome, and it led to the amygdala being investigated for its role in fear.

    Since, the amygdala has become best known for its role in fear processing. When we are exposed to a fearful stimulus, information about that stimulus is immediately sent to the amygdala, which can then send signals to areas of the brain like the hypothalamus to trigger a “fight-or-flight” response .

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    The Limbic System: What Is It And How Does It Work

    07 August, 2019

    Our brain is one of the most wonderful structures in our body. And although its one of the most studied parts of the body, there is still much yet to discover about how it functions. Despite this, we know that within our brain lie different systems that have specialized roles in making our body work. One of the most important systems we currently know of is the limbic system.

    The first time the limbic system was discussed, though in a less conceptualized and more primitive way than we do now, it was because Paul Broca named an area near the pineal gland.

    Out of limb or border, he called it the area of the great limbic lobe. Hence the logic of its name, because it is situated in the limbo or edge of other structures that we already knew about.

    However, the limbic system as we know it today was conceptualized by physiologist MacLean in 1949. He extended the initial conceptualization of this system that Papez started in 1939, giving it its current name.

    MacLean expanded the number of structures that make up the limbic system. He considered that the development of the cerebral cortex was just as important in our evolution as the development of our emotional brain.

    Happiness is a mental state activated by the limbic system.

    -Antonio Damasio-

    What Are The Parts And Functions Of The Limbic System


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    What are the main functions of the limbic system?

    The limbic system is a set of structures in the brain that controls emotion, memories and arousal. It contains regions that detect fear, control bodily functions and perceive sensory information .

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    The Brain Is Flexible: Neuroplasticity

    The control of some specific bodily functions, such as movement, vision, and hearing, is performed in specified areas of the cortex, and if these areas are damaged, the individual will likely lose the ability to perform the corresponding function. For instance, if an infant suffers damage to facial recognition areas in the temporal lobe, it is likely that he or she will never be able to recognize faces . On the other hand, the brain is not divided up in an entirely rigid way. The brains neurons have a remarkable capacity to reorganize and extend themselves to carry out particular functions in response to the needs of the organism and to repair damage. As a result, the brain constantly creates new neural communication routes and rewires existing ones. Neuroplasticity refers to the brains ability to change its structure and function in response to experience or damage. Neuroplasticity enables us to learn and remember new things and adjust to new experiences.

    Although neurons cannot repair or regenerate themselves as skin or blood vessels can, new evidence suggests that the brain can engage in neurogenesis, the forming of new neurons . These new neurons originate deep in the brain and may then migrate to other brain areas, where they form new connections with other neurons . This leaves open the possibility that someday scientists might be able to rebuild damaged brains by creating drugs that help grow neurons.

    The Role Of The Thalamus In The Emotional Brain

    The thalamus is another region of the brain implicated in the limbic system this structure is found at the heart of the forebrain and is responsible for emotion processing, such as fear, sadness, disgust, happiness, and pleasure. The thalamus plays an essential role in sensory processing all sensory input, other than olfactory information, is processed in this region of brain, hence the nickname ‘Grand Central Station’.

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    What Role Does The Thalamus Play In Memory

    The thalamus is also responsible for motor control and states of consciousness such as waking and sleeping. The thalamus, as the brain’s librarian, is important for retrieving memories. It not only sends signals to the desired brain areas, but also acts as a relay station for the subsequent retrieval of information.

    Areas Of The Forebrain

    Emotions: limbic system | Processing the Environment | MCAT | Khan Academy


    Figure 1. The thalamus serves as the relay center of the brain where most senses are routed for processing.

    The limbic system is involved in processing both emotion and memory. Interestingly, the sense of smell projects directly to the limbic system therefore, not surprisingly, smell can evoke emotional responses in ways that other sensory modalities cannot. The limbic system is made up of a number of different structures, but three of the most important are the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the hypothalamus . The hippocampus is an essential structure for learning and memory. The amygdala is involved in our experience of emotion and in tying emotional meaning to our memories. The hypothalamus regulates a number of homeostatic processes, including the regulation of body temperature, appetite, and blood pressure. The hypothalamus also serves as an interface between the nervous system and the endocrine system and in the regulation of sexual motivation and behavior.

    Figure 2. The limbic system is involved in mediating emotional response and memory.

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    Neuroanatomy Of Innate Behaviors

    Most of our knowledge of the circuitry that regulates innate behaviors has come from structural or cellular loss-of-function lesion and cytotoxic injury approaches. However, as the collection of brain regions within the innate circuitry contains a number of intertwined fibers of passage, lesion studies by their very nature are limited in their ability to discern the function of discrete nuclei from other connected brain regions. Despite this drawback, these types of classical studies have painted a relatively consistent picture of the major structures that comprise innate circuitry. These structures include the main and accessory olfactory system, olfactory/piriform cortex, amygdala, bed nucleus of stria terminalis and hypothalamus .

    Table 1. Abbreviations of limbic structures and summary of their role in innate behaviors.

    How Do You Strengthen Your Limbic System

    2. Exercise

  • Train Fitness recommends a fitness regime of 20-30 minutes, 3-5 times a week to help maintain the health of your limbic system.
  • Further research suggests that aerobic exercises such as cardio, swimming, running, walking and hiking are particularly beneficial to charging-up your brainpower.
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    Embryonic Patterning Of The Innate Limbic System And Potential Link To Behavior

    Since innate behaviors are established without prior experience, the regulatory circuitry must be established during embryonic or early post-natal stages of neurodevelopment, likely through a series of hierarchical stages of genetic programming. Below we review our current knowledge of innate limbic system development, and present a novel model in which innate behaviors are generated by a coordination of genetic expression events and environmental cues.

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