CogniFit's Science blog: What Brain Function Does The Limbic System Serve?

What Brain Function Does The Limbic System Serve?

Often known as the emotional brain, the limbic system serves as a crucial brain function with vital parts within. This is one of the most recent system to have evolved in our development history and research and studies have identified many key findings behind it.

As the emotional brain, this is where the memory begins and emotions reside. Two functions essentially combine together to create behaviors with positive or negative feelings. And to many people’s dismay, this is where most unconscious value judgments are made. It is also responsible for the role of salience, spontaneity and creativity.

There are a number of brain function responsibilities and parts located in the limbic system beginning with the amygdala. This portion of the system is in charge of storing and classifying emotionally charged memories. It has a great deal of responsibility for our emotions with a special emphasis put on fear. And it even triggers responses to strong emotion like sweaty palms, freezing, increased heart-beat and stress hormones.

The hippocampus is the next area within the system and has a brain function focused on memory and learning. The primary role is in memory formation, classifying information and the long-term memory. It is capable of storing new and temporary information that can be retrieved long down the road.

The third area of importance is the hypothalamus. This area perhaps does the most work of all as it controls many of the body’s functions being linked closely with the pituitary gland. It is responsible for monitoring and controlling your circadian rhythms like daily sleep and your wake cycle, your appetite, thirst, emotions, motor functions and autonomic functions.

The final aspect to the limbic system is the thalamus. The brain function you will find here is simply put as the relay station. Most sensory signals, auditory, visual and somatosensory go through this organ as it travels to other parts of the brain to process. It plays a minor role in motor control as well.

It is truly remarkable to think about everything the brain as a whole is responsible. All you have to do is look at every brain function the limbic system is in charge of to get a general idea of the complexity of the brain. From your emotions to sensory signals to your appetite and thirst, each facet plays a major role in how you eat, sleep, walk around and essentially live. And while this is a highly complex portion within, it is stunning to think there are even more complex parts of the brain.