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Brain and Its Limbic System

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The limbic system can arguably be stated as the parts of the brain responsible for those functions that make us all human. The structures of the limbic system are very much related to what is necessary for our survival. The limbic structures are involved in memory and emotions such as anger, fear, and pleasure, which include feelings experienced after eating or sexual behavior

The limbic system is credited as the “region of the cerebrum that acts as a link between higher cognitive functions, such as reasoning, and more primitive emotional responses, such as fear”.

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Throughout the centuries, scientific observers have endeavoured to extend their knowledge of the interrelationships between the brain and its regulatory control of human emotions and behaviour. Since the time of physicians such as Aristotle and Galen and the more recent observations of clinicians and neuropathologists such as Broca, Papez, and McLean, the field of affective neuroscience has matured to become the province of neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, neurologists, and psychiatrists. It is accepted that the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, hippocampus, and insula participate in the majority of emotional processes

New imaging technologies and molecular biology discoveries are expanding further the frontiers of knowledge in this arena. The advancements of knowledge on the interplay between the human brain and emotions came about as the legacy of the pioneers mentioned in this field. The aim of this paper is to describe the historical evolution of the scientific understanding of interconnections between the human brain, behaviour, and emotions. A series of findings in the affective neurosciences have outlined the neural circuits encompassing cortical and subcortical structures, which are responsible for the generation of human emotions. It is currently accepted that the following areas participate in the majority of the emotional processes: prefrontal cortex, amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, hippocampus, and insula.

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Most people see emotions and motivation as a psychological issue that originates in the mind. However, modern neuroscience offers an explanation for emotions and behaviors that point to primitive centers of the brain as the originators of emotional reactions. Emotions themselves are protective mechanisms designed to prompt an appropriate reaction in threatening situations (Koscik &Tranel, 2011, 137). The limbic system is responsible for emotion, motivation, long-term memory, the processing of olfactory information and behavior (Adams & Victor, 1985). While it is primarily responsible for emotions and emotional processing, it also is involved in the formation of memories. For example, when an individual smells a comforting scent such as cinnamon or the smell of pumpkin pie, the limbic system creates the emotional response that has been learned from early years. The behavior that is triggered from this memory is salivation which triggers other digestive processes that create hunger. The function of the limbic system is important in understanding human reactions, behaviors, and reasoning. This paper will make the case that the emotion domain of human beings is primarily a biologically produced experience. The hippocampus is strongly involved in the memory function of the brain (Markowitsch & Staniloiu, 2011, 722). It plays a role in moving information that is stored in short term memory into long term memory

Damage to the hippocampus causes an individual to be unable to build new memories. The individual may be able to remember information that was stored prior to the onset of the injury but can remember nothing after.

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Definitely, the hypothalamus "below the thalamus" regulates the body's endocrine system by triggering the release of hormones into the bloodstream

By doing so it helps regulate the basic emotions such as fear, rage, and also involved in drives such as hunger, thirst, sleep, and sex. You wouldn't want to get rid of the hypothalamus because it is also the home to your "pleasure centers.

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Adams, R.D. and Victor, M., Principles of Neurology, 3rd edn., MacGraw-Hill, New York, 1985.

Eichenbaum, H, “Comparative cognition, hippocampal function, and recollection”. Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews 2 (1): 47-66, 2007.
Isaacson, R.L. “A fuzzy limbic system”. Behavioural Brain Research 52 (2): 129-131, 1992

Koscik, T.R.; Tranel, D.”The human amygdala is necessary for developing and expressing normal interpersonal trust”. Neuropsychologia 49 (4): 602-611, 2011.

Markowitsch, H.J.; Staniloiu, A “Amygdala in action: Relaying biological and social significance to autobiographical memory”. Neuropsychologia 49 (4): 718-733, 2011

Rule, N.O.; Moran, J. M., Freeman, J. B., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., Gabrieli, J. D. E., , & Ambady,N . “Face value: Amygdala response reflects the validity of first impressions”. NeuroImage 54 (1): 734-741, 2011

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