The limbic system is a localized set of structures in our brains, controlling our behavioral and emotional responses. It’s located directly below the medial temporal lobe of the cerebrum in the forebrain, and it plays a huge role in our emotional well-being – especially when it comes to survival, reproduction, and caring for our young.
Many studies have linked the limbic system to a number of interconnected social constructs that we indulge in daily, such as the reward system instilled in our brains.
It has also been connected to many other aspects of our lives, such as learning, memorizing, the fight or flight response, hunger, and even hormonal balance in our bodies.
The limbic system is the control center
for many conscious and subconscious functions.
In many ways, it helps to connect the mind to the body by establishing a neural link between physiological events and psychological experiences. This is why many experts believe that understanding the extent to which the limbic system affects our emotional health can affect our take on life among other things for good.
Learning about the limbic system can also help us to find a way to boost its power and efficiency. So with that in mind, let’s go ahead and take a closer look at some of the pressing areas of our lives that are affected by the limbic system. That way, you can have a better understanding of its role in your life.
Our Natural Reward System and Addiction
We have sufficient data to believe that feelings of inspiration and reward are created inside the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a collection of neurons that release dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that supports feelings of pleasure, and it’s considered an essential part of our natural reward system.
In a neurotypical person, dopamine helps alleviate feelings of joy, motivation, and social well-being. On the other hand, prescription and illegal drug abuse will suppress the natural ability of the limbic system to secrete dopamine. If you want to learn about how to wean off lorazepam or similar prescription drug dependence, understanding the limbic system can greatly help in your pursuit.
Controlling Our Defense Mechanisms
As human beings, we are capable of experiencing and expressing a vast and complex range of emotions. The amygdala and hippocampus work together in controlling our various emotional states, from aggression to fear, anxiety to love, and compassion and empathy for others.
Our limbic system also interprets situations based on the information fed to it by our sensory organs and, in turn, quickly addresses the issue with a response. Based on our memories, factual information, and other inputs, the response of the limbic system can vary from person to person.
Memory and Cognitive Function
Our memory serves a very special purpose in our lives because it’s the only thing keeping everything intact in our minds.
The amygdala and hippocampus are mainly responsible for storing, managing, and creating new memories. Both good and bad memories are a direct result of the experiences we go through in our daily lives.
The role of the hippocampus is particularly important in this process, largely due to its close association with long-term memory retention. Both spatial reasoning and spatial memory derive their directions directly from the limbic system. This will further highlight its role in this part of cognition.
Maintaining Hormonal Balance
Hormones are the chemical messengers of our body. They carry vital information from the glands of the endocrine system to the various tissues or organs in our bodies via the bloodstream. In simpler terms, they instruct the various organs in the body on how to perform and function.
The hormones secreted by the hypothalamus help us feel a wide range of emotions, including pain, hunger, thirst, passion, anger, and aggression. It also helps our body maintain a state of homeostasis, which is undoubtedly essential for our existence. This is why hormonal imbalances have such a dramatic impact on a person’s mood and demeanor.
Learning and Developmental Capabilities
Our ability to learn and grow in a quintessential manner is heavily dependent on our limbic system. In addition to controlling our memory, the cingulate gyrus streamlines the brain’s attention towards emotionally significant events. This is what determines our ability to focus on the main subject when we are learning new things.
Some studies indicate that people with ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) have an enlarged hippocampus in order to compensate for the underperforming areas that regulate attention.
This just goes to show how intertwined the limbic system is in our daily lives and how significant it is overall.
Our limbic system is remarkably dynamic in nature. It can change its course of operation based on memories and stimuli from the outside world.
However, professional help, whether it comes in the form of therapy or rehab; can greatly help people in dealing with stress-inducing situations, allowing them to channel their emotions in a constructive manner.