What parts of the brain make up the limbic system?
Get ready to strap in and hold on tight, folks! We’re about to take a trip through the limbic system; that wild and woolly region of our brains responsible for regulating emotions, motivations, and memories. Think of it as the amusement park of your mind- with each ride taking you on an adrenaline-fueled journey through neural pathways filled with twists, turns, and surprises.
But before we embark on this adventure together let’s take a moment to get our bearings.
What is the Limbic System?
The limbic system is made up of multiple interconnected structures within the brain responsible for processing emotional responses such as fear or pleasure. It also plays a key role in memory formation and retention.
Think about it like this: if your brain was a theme park then the limbic system would be its mid-section- housing all of those attractions designed expressly to manipulate how you feel at any given moment; from happy-go-lucky carnival games aimed squarely at inducing joyfulness right down to roller coasters whose purpose is just plain ol’ terror.
We can break down these individual landmarks into smaller parts:
This area can best be described as Disneyland’s “It’s A Small World” attraction; except instead of traveling around singing dolls representing various cultures here you’re experiencing moments from years gone by over again every time something strikes that old familiar chord stored deep inside your memory banks.
The hippocampus helps preserve both short-term and long-term memories which are categorized according their level importance (so don’t think too hard about what that revelation means for those ‘Senior Moments’).
Now imagine sitting atop Six Flags’ highest point looking down upon poor unwitting souls making their way into yet another haunted house attraction when suddenly -,”Alarming bells start ringing”-the amygdala washes over everyone activating a set of reflexes known as the “fight or flight” response.
The amygdala is involved in evaluating emotional content and determining potential threats, creating a key link between emotions and our physiological responses. Its role can be seen most prominently during times of high stress when fight over flight becomes the name of the game.
We’re back in Disneyland now but this time we’ve taken a turn down Main Street USA’s food court- specifically Micky Mouse’s churro stand where the hypothalamus, located somewhere beneath his oversized sombrero stands primed to regulate your appetite- making sure both you (and your insatiable sweet tooth) stay well-fed.
Not only responsible for balancing hunger hormones like ghrelin + leptin, but also sleep patterns (you know which ride this one refers to after dark).
Located just past Fantasyland, heading towards Tomorrowland we find ourselves detouring into Bizarro World for what I’d describe as an immersion walkthrough exhibit so interactive it feels more like…real life? The septal nuclei give way towards pleasure seeking rewards from High dopamine secretions by playing an instrumental part in those feelings via pathways associated with happiness + motivation.
Just reenact that small endorphin rush you get at Disney when a character gently interacts with you or even better when they chance on impromptu hugs/photo-op sessions!
Now that we’ve identified some popular landmarks within our minds’ amusement park let’s break things down further! Welcome to the Limbic system.
There are four major areas generally considered to comprise what neurologists refer to collectively as ‘The Limbic System’.
Starting near Frontiers Land swinging around Critter Country Curvy paths ending off Tomorrowland lies “Cingulate gyrus” just above hypothalamus. This region plays a key role in regulating emotion, including things like anxiety, excitement, and depression.
The fornix connects the hippocampus to other limbic system structures through bundles of nerve fibers known as ‘fibers arching over’. It’s responsible for transmitting information between these areas- making them all operate more efficiently (think about those underground tunnels Disneyland staff uses exclusively…yup!)
Located at the centre of Fantasyland is The Mesencephalon, also known as the tectum which acts both an auditory + visual coordinator pathway involved with sensory integration. Relaying senses: touch/taste/smell/heat & cold directly towards Hippocampus/Amygdala.
Remember everything your brain encountered? Jackpot! This helps to interpret our surroundings by allowing us to pick up on environment cues thereby helping make sense out of what we perceive around us every day.
Last but not least you find ourselves entering Adventureland where one comes across “Thalamus(meaning inner chamber or bed) received incoming sensory data from then preceded towards middle level). Essentially playing switchboard operator event hotline for sensory transmit information gear directions throughout entire cortex once processed.
What this means is that all sensations pass through the thalamus before being sent further along neurological pathways. From vision and hearing down right through taste/thoughts/etc-they’re passing via thalamus just as it filters every single bit until routed onwards!
Now strap yourselves in folks’, it’s time to get geared up for yet another exhilarating ride: unravelling how different parts comprising limbic systems operate generally + within variations concerning each foundational segment individually.
use mind map
Fornix (white matter)
Each of these various neuronal structures within the limbic system operates in coordination with one other- creating a finely tuned orchestra of neural activity where everyone’s on same page.
Much like different sections comprising Disneyland there’s an intricate network hardworking neurons involved in processing our emotions, memories & behavior.
But how exactly do these areas communicate with each another? And why is it critically important to understand what’s going on beneath the surface level for any discussion involving functions attributed towards this mighty region? Let’s unpack some of basics + have a closer look under hood!
Interactions between Hippocampus and Fornix
Hippocampus wears many hats: seat preservation division performing storage short-term LONG TERM memories while also engaging sense recognition, spatiotemporal mapping+the biggie! Consisting highest concentration Neurons regarding Glutamate over all mammalian brains supporting cognitive learning/memory proficiency.
It communicates heavily via fibers arching up & backwards along The Fornix specifically built for relay moving messages received down straight back hippocangusal formation.
Role Of Amygdala & Hypothalamus
Like we learned earlier both play significant roles when interpreting incoming emotion-laden information. In very basic terms – hypothalamus is responsible for distributing chemical messengers released by amygdala thereby influencing with autonomic systems such as blood pressure/heart rate/breathing rates etc.
Another way to think about how these scenes work together can best exemplified via train interconnections running throughout vast complex networks initiating at start point (Thalamus) eventually dividing oneself into future directions designated based upon required response from current sensory platform(s).
When recognized by compounding feedback loops which are continually fed specific supplementary cues depending upon circumstance(fight or flight responses e.g), enables us make conscious choices supplementing these instantaneous processes readily accessible during situational encounters thus coupling triggered moments thereafter into enduring memory retention.
As with any amusement park things can and do-goes south at times; accidents & outages happen, but what happens when your brains midpoint breaks down or fails to function in the way it was designed? We’ve all heard of disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or generalized anxiety- these are often associated with the limbic system’s inability to regulate emotions and/or memories effectively.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – presenting primarily following trauma pertaining towards threatening safety/trauma experienced seen via Amygdala becoming over-active by having a hard time switching off once manner which elevating certain crucial hormone levels before negatively influencing hypothalamus reign (Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) leading onto victims experiencing never-ending paranoid emotional after-effects even one semblance akin events encountered in future instances potentially causing further psychological damage if unchecked.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Here we encounter The Amygdala running rampant solely focusing on even hypothetical threats furbishing to an animalistic fight-or-flight mode including panic attack(s).
..And this is where that “fun” from earlier comes full circle back biting us squarely on our behinds. – remember how Disneyland’s looming large structure worked within perfect harmony while controlling every single aspect synchronizing accordingly alongside one another giving smoothest riding experience possible?
Well! When there’s movement within this fragile coordinated process happening beneath the surface injury (typically stemming correlated unresolved events) can lead either towards Hypersensitivity repeating cycle itself mental frustration vicious uncontrollable feedback loops .
But wait, let’s flip script momentarily:
What about patients suffering from amnesia varieties specifically those deprived lately recollected history due close range brain injury?
Both Hippocampus as well Thalamus commonly displayed loss specific source material + catalogue memorability otherwise known solid neutral contact exposure point lacking substantial value for self-reference.
However remaining parts within Limbic system seem unaffected leading professionals/ physicians towards hypothesize critical importance involvement perform senses memory placement consolidation processing.
So there you have it- the limbic system; that crazy carnival of emotions, memories, and motivations all housed comfortably in your old noggin! Just remember when something scares or thrills you too much – its this fella responsible for the ride(don’t worry folks – keep limbs inside cart please & enjoy journey).