The Linguistic Brain

Limbisch systeem is one of the most important areas of the human brain. It is responsible for many of the basic and high level functions that we all take for granted. When this area of the brain is dysfunctional it can cause a wide range of symptoms that affect every aspect of our life.

In the late 1930s, James Papez suggested that an interconnected series of structures — cingulate gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, hippocampus, dentate gyrus, fornix, mammillary bodies and mammillothalamic tract — form a circuit called the limbic system (from the Latin word limbus, meaning edge). He thought that these regions were critical in processing sensory input from the eyes, ears, nose and mouth; integrating this information and applying it to emotional and motivational responses. The limbic system is also involved in homeostasis, neuroendocrine regulation and autonomic responses.

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It is believed that the limbic system forms part of a hierarchy with the hypothalamus and higher cortical regions. This hierarchy is created by the lateral and medial loops that connect the limbic system to the hypothalamus and higher cortical structures. These lobes of the brain receive afferents from the hypothalamus and have a strong efferent connection to the solitary tract nucleus, which sends signals to the adrenal medulla and to the sympathetic and parasympathetic spinal cord clusters serving basic drives like thirst and hunger.

Other functions of the limbic system include regulating attention, memory, olfaction (smell) and emotions. It has been shown that the amygdala plays an important role in emotions, primarily fear and aggression, and in the fight-or-flight response. The olfactory area of the limbic system (rhinencephalon) is crucial in forming unconscious associations, for example linking certain sights and smells with danger, pleasure or memory.