Limbic System

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Wikipedia.

limbic system

[′lim·bik ‚sis·təm]
The inner edge of the cerebral cortex in the medial and temporal regions of the cerebral hemispheres.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Limbic System


rhinencephalon, a group of sections of the brain that are unified by anatomic (spatial intercommunication) and functional (physiological) characteristics. The major part of the system consists of structures of the hippocampal gyrus, a series of successively connected brain formations that form a closed cycle and are connected to the paleopallium, archipallium, and neopallium (all located predominantly on the inner surface of the hemispheres) and to subcortical formations.

The limbic system participates in olfactory function and in regulating the activity of the body’s visceral systems; when different areas of the limbic system are stimulated electrically, changes can be observed in the operation of the various internal organs, such as the heart, the vessels, and the gastrointestinal tract. However, the principal function of the limbic system is associated with autoregulatory processes in the organization of behavior and mental activity. The system is responsible for the instinctual behavior associated with the satisfaction of innate organic requirements, such as self-preservation, food gathering, eating and drinking, sexual behavior, and the rearing of offspring.

The limbic system also has an important role in the organization of acquired forms of behavior; this is associated with the system’s special role in emotional reaction, the processes of memory, and the regulation of the states of wakefulness and sleeping. By stimulating or destroying various areas of the limbic system, one can produce or eliminate emotions, such as fear or rage. In experiments with autostimulation, in which an animal can, by pressing a pedal, repeatedly (up to 8,000 times an hour) stimulate certain structures of the limbic system through implanted electrodes, there arises an expressed sensation of satisfaction (the positive reinforcement of an action). Upon the introduction of electrodes to other structures, the animal is observed to avoid such autostimulation, because of the appearance of a feeling of dissatisfaction (negative reinforcement).

The role of the limbic system has been elucidated in the processes of memory in which there is a transfer of traces of acquired experience from short-term to long-term memory. In man, bilateral damage to the limbic system (for example, by brain tumors and certain intoxications, such as with alcohol) leads to an impairment of the function and a loss of memory for new occurrences (called Korsakoff’s syndrome). Such damage may also result in emotional disturbances.

Different parts of the limbic system participate to different degrees in various brain functions. However, all of the basic functions and structures are closely interconnected, and, taken together, they ensure in integral brain activity (motor, perceptive, cognitive) the active, purposeful character of a given action.


Struktura i funktsiia arkhipaleokorteksa. Moscow, 1968. (Gagrskie besedy, vol. 5.)
Fiziologiia i patofiziologiia limbiko-retikuliarnoi sistemy. Moscow, 1971.
Structure and Function of the Limbic System. Amsterdam-London-New York, 1967. (Progress in Brain Research, vol. 27.)
Karli, P. “Système limbique et processus de motivation.” In Association des physiologistes. Paris, 1968. (Journal de physiologic vol. 60, supplement 1.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
uWhen it is working properly, it is able to act in accordance with its values, regulate the emotional limbic system in order to achieve long-term goals that are for the good of the society.
Evidence for tinnitus-related plasticity in the auditory and limbic system, demonstrated by arg3.1 and c-fos immunocytochemistry.
For the nodal characteristics, AVG experts have increased nodal clustering coefficient, nodal efficiency, and nodal strength in the prefrontal network, limbic system, and sensorimotor network.
Once you reduce the responsiveness of the adolescent brain to the limbic system, you then can focus on the prefrontal cortex to help adolescents engage and cope with their distress.
This is a structure located bilaterally, deep within the medial temporal lobes of the brain, just below each amygdala and is a part of the limbic system. By far the most prominent source of afferents to the hippocampal formation is the adjacent entorhinal cortex (olfactory association area).
You have moved thinking about driving the car from the conscious neocortex to the subconscious limbic system, making driving virtually a "no brainer."
We may have a three-pound neocortex, but our deeply rooted limbic system makes us bigoted, capricious, irrational, petty, and sometimes just stupid.
"The limbic system is increasingly recognized to be crucial in determining and regulating [a person's] entire emotional 'tone'.
Mischel calls this the "cool system," as contrasted with the limbic system's fight-or-flight "hot" responses.
Differential Diagnosis: Limbic encephalitis [LE] represents para neoplastic syndrome caused due to non-CNS primary tumors resulting in functional and imaging changes in the limbic system. Para neoplastic LE are disorders of the nervous system that are associated with cancer but are not caused by the tumor growth itself or by non-metastatic complications such as secondary infections and metabolic, ischemic, SLE or nutritional disordersreported by GultekinSH.
These included parts of the limbic system, and the language system.
Today, theories of depression focus more on differences in neuron density in various regions of the brain; the effect of stress on neurogenesis and neuronal cell apoptosis; alterations in feedback pathways connecting the pre-frontal cortex to the limbic system; and the role of proinflamma-tory mediators evoked during the stress response (Box, (2), (3) page 43).