Limbic System Components

The limbic system that surrounds the thalamus provides an interface between the midbrain and higher cortical structures. The general structure and components of the limbic system are shown in Figure 1. These include the AMYGDALA, the NUCLEUS ACCUMBENS, the olfactory tubercle, the septal nuclei, the hippocampus, the hypothalamus, the cingulate cortex, and the frontal cortex. As can be seen in the figure, these structures are positioned between the brain s major relay station—the thalamus—and higher cortical structures. The separate components of the limbic system are interconnected such that activity initiated in one structure affects other components. One of the hypotheses about the basis of emotion speculated that reverberating neuronal activity in this system was responsible for affective behaviors. Initial animal studies using either direct electrical stimulation or lesions (loss) of various components of the limbic system substantiated the important role of this system in behavior.

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