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Limbic System: Supporting Emotional Life

The Limbic System is a set of structures in the brain located on either side of the thalamus, immediately below the cerebrum. supports a number of functions, including emotions, memory, motivation and behavior. All the emotions one feels in daily life are primarily a function of the limbic system. Additionally this system influences how emotions are processed into speech and action.

The Limbic System is not a separate system, but rather a collection of brain structures. It includes (but not exclusively) the amygdalae, basal ganglia, cingulate gyrus, hippocampus, hypothalamus and thalamus. Below is a brief description of each:

  • Amygdalae are the emotion centers of the brain. One particular role of the amygdalae is pain perception and modulation. (The cingulate gyrus also helps regulate emotions and pain.) 
  • Basal ganglia are primarily responsible for motor control, as well as contributing to motor learning, emotions, and executive functions and behavior
  • Cingulate gyrus help us express our emotions through physical posture, gesture and movement.
  • Hippocampus plays a major role in learning and memory (both short and long term).
  • Hypothalamus is responsible for internal monitoring, as well as maintaining homeostasis in the body.
  • Thalamus is responsible for maintaining consciousness, and processing information that comes in through the senses.

For more information on the Limbic System, please click here.

For another article on brain structure, please see Prefrontal Cortex.

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