As human beings, we yearn to learn and understand everything we can about our own bodies and about how our bodies work. We have a number of major organs that can be considered as complex and intricate but none can be more complex and intricate as the brain. One of the most perplexing parts of the brain is called the Limbic System. So what does the limbic system actually do? How does it contribute to the overall workings of the brain? In this article, we will look at what it is and what it can do for the body. Read on to find out more!
The Limbic System: A Brief Backgrounder
The brain is an amazing body structure and while it is one of the parts of the body that has been most studied, there are still tons of details to find out about this body part. Regardless of the complexities of the brain, we as individuals know that the brain holds the various systems responsible for the specific roles that make the body function as it should. One of the most critical systems in the brain is the limbic system. The limbic system was first discussed by Paul Broca although in a way that is more primitive and less conceptualized. The limbic system has also been identified as close to the pineal gland.
Broca also based the phrase “great limbic lobe” because of the term border or “limb” and the way the limbic system is found on the edge or in the limbo of the other brain structures that science has already identified. However, the present conception of the Limbic system was due to the work of Maclean, a psychologist who studied the limbic system in 1949. The said psychologist identified and expanded the other limbic system structures. He also proposed the importance of the cerebral cortex in the evolution of human beings and the emotional brain’s development.
As such, the Limbic system is generally referred to as the emotional brain. The question, though, is “Is this label appropriate?” Other important questions would be “What is the limbic system’s component? What are its important functions?”
The Main Structures of the Limbic System
A structure found in the brain’s base and in the lower portion of the thalamus. To be exact, the hypothalamus is found on both sides of the third ventricle’s ventral portion, or around the brain’s central portion. It is a structure in the brain that is relatively small and is made up of fibers and nuclei and is critical for us to survive. This is because it plays a major role in our endocrine system and the autonomic nervous system. It is also believed that the hypothalamus is responsible for certain instincts innate in humans such as reproduction, feeding, flight, and fight.
The limbic system is composed of many different structures within the brain and the interconnections of these structures are undeniable. This can make identifying the specific structures challenging. Based on the studies, though, it is generally agreed upon that the main parts of the limbic system include:
The hypothalamus also has a very important structure within it that aids in the proper functioning of the Limbic System. The said structure is referred to as the mamillary bodies. These mamillary bodies assist the hypothalamus in the transmission of impulses which means they are crucial in the transmission of important information within the brain.
Hippocampus is a seahorse like structure located in the forebrain which is found in the temporal lobe. It is the human brain’s oldest region and is the primary structure linked to the hypothalamus. It has a crucial role in ensuring that the basic processes for survival are observed.
The hippocampus is generally believed to handle what is known as remote memory. It is the type of memory that lets people recall what occurred in the past. This means that the things that happened to us in the past. This means that this part of the brain can help shape an individual’s personality based on their experiences. The hippocampus is also important for individuals to learn new concepts. It is connected to the limbic system in terms of managing the emotional memory.
The amygdala complex is found in the temporal lobe’s lateral ventricle. Amygdala is part of what is referred to as the brain’s deep part. The deep brain is the portion of the brain were instincts for survival and the basic emotions of individuals prevail. Three major nuclei make up the amygdala and these are the Corticomedial nuclei, the central nucleus, and the basolateral nuclei. The role of the amygdala is to ensure the integration between the response and the emotions felt by individuals.
These connections aid in the production of emotional responses. It can also help in behavioral inhibition depending on the situation experienced by the individual. As such, the amygdala can be a participant in what is known as the Amygdala Hijack or an emotional abduction. The amygdala is also considered as the emotions’ captain within the limbic system. Similar to the hippocampus, the amygdala also helps in the generation of emotional memories. When working with the hypothalamus, on the other hand, it introduces colorful emotional associations with basic mental processes. One example is that it can link negative emotional experiences with sexual behavior, sleep, and food.
This part of the limbic system is axon bundles. It is an arc-shape like and serve as the connection between the other parts of the brain and the hippocampus. It is extremely important for the limbic system because it can aid in the transmission of information among the different parts of this system.