Limbic System (大脑的边缘系统)

The Limbic System is the “Seat of Emotions” or otherwise known as the “Survival Instinct Centre”. It works extremely fast and its connection with our motor responses develop very early in life. This is the reason why actions follow strong feelings in kids. It promotes survival.

There are essentially four parts in the limbic system: Thalamus, Hippocampus, Hypothalamus and Amygdala.

  • The Thalamus is the relay station for incoming signals. It regulates all incoming signals before relaying them to other parts of the brain. An example could be the young person watching his friend play his favourite online game, and that visual signal is relayed to the memory.
  • The Hippocampus, is the memory bank, the place where meaning is encoded. The sight of his friend playing his favorite online game could evoke the positive accompaniment of friends or the hounding concerns of parents. Such mental images could conjure up memories of enjoyment with classmates or negative experience with parents reacting over the use of computer, respectively. The hippocampus would be responsible for calling up these memories to consciousness.
  • The Hypothalamus is the hormone control centre. It regulates body functions like sleep, sex, eating, etc. through hormone control. At the puberty age in particular, hormones like testosterone, estrogen and progesterone are in its full effect, and it can affect moods quite significantly. These three hormones are technically found in everyone, but in different proportions. Each of them has unique function. At puberty, adolescents are experiencing the full effect of the works of their hormones in their body. As a result, it is a time of increased emotional reactivity. Depending on how adults assist to regulate the teenagers, the emotional reactivity and sensitivity may play a role in higher incidence of affective disorder onset and addiction during this developmental period.
  • For the Amygdala (otherwise known as the alarm system), it is essentially the place where memories are assigned emotional meanings. To use the earlier example, as a result of watching his friend play his favorite online game, he recalled how his parents cautioned him on the use of the computer, especially when he has not completed his homework. He could either feel afraid because of the memory that his parents might reprimand him, or feel angry because of the memory that his parents were often restrictive. He could be alerted to either take flight or fight. It is important to note that the amygdala has been implicated as a key neural region in emotional dysregulation in psychiatric disorders. This region is essential to learning the emotional significance of cues in the environment.

These four brain parts of the Limbic System makes up the Centre of Emotions. To understand the behaviors of young persons, it is imperative to know the general functions of this Centre of Emotions. It is important to note also that the Limbic System is fully developed between the ages of 10 – 15 years old.

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