How does our Limbic System work
Well, what is this all about and how does it affect us.? Did you know that there is a part of our brain that wants to keep us safe. It is the default Primitive part of our brain, also known as the Limbic System. It is our Health & Safety Department. This part of our brain has been around for thousands and thousands of years since we lived in caves and we only had to use this part of our brain to keep us safe from wild animals and wild tribesmen.
So, the original and most primitive part of our Limbic System is:
The Amygdala, also known as the Fight/Flight/Freeze zone is comprised of two almond shaped clusters in the cerebrum part of the brain. It mediates many aspects of emotional meaning and behaviour. It recognises when we are experiencing fear, anxiety and acute stress and reacts accordingly by connecting with the Hippocampus and Hypothalamus to keep us safe. This part of the brain is basically our default brain as we have been using it for thousands and thousands of years since we lived in caves and we needed to be kept safe from wild animals and other wild tribesman. Our only function then was to provide for our families and keep them safe. When it was not safe to leave the cave, we would stay in our caves and pull our fur rug over us until we knew that it was safe to go outside again.,
The Hippocampus is a complex part of the brain structure and is found deep in the temporal lobe of the brain. It has a major role in learning and memory and it is also involved in emotional processes and behavioural patterns. During times of Fight/Flight/Freeze, the Amygdala connects with the Hippocampus and decides what to do to help. This is why it is part of the Health and Safety Department of the Brain. The Hippocampus is like our memory bank and holds all our sometimes inappropriate behavioural patterns and good and bad memories. It also regulates our spacial awareness capabilities. The Amygdala and the Hippocampus work together when they believe that there is a threat or a time of crisis.
The Hypothalamus acts as your control centre for managing hormones and is situated deep within your brain. When the Amygdala and Hippocampus connect during periods of Fight/Flight/Freeze, messages are sent to the Hypothalamus to release hormones into your endocrine system to help you to control your emotions. These stress hormones are usually Cortisol, Adrenaline and Noradrenaline. Good hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin are also released from the Hypothalamus when our positive emotions are in control and we are feeling good. It is our control system for keeping us safe and also content and regulates how we feel physically and emotionally. The Hypothalamus also helps manage our body temperature, our hunger and thirst, our sex drive, blood pressure and sleep patterns.
Where is our Limbic System?
The Limbic System is situated underneath the Cerebral Cortex and above the Brain Stem so it sits in the bottom middle part of our brain. It is a very important part of our brain naturally as it is involved in our behavioural and emotional responses especially when it comes to behaviours involved in our survival, our sustenance, our reproduction and our nurturing responses as well as our fight, flight, freeze responses.
I hope that you enjoyed this post and if you have any comments, please post them below. Thank you.