Limbic system injury
Limbic system injury
Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Limbic System: Collective term denoting a heterogeneous array of brain structures at or near the edge (limbus) of the medial wall of the cerebral hemisphere, in particular the hippocampus (A complex neural structure shaped like a sea horse consisting of grey matter and located on the floor of each lateral ventricle; intimately involved in motivation and emotion as part of the limbic system; has a central role in the formation of memories), amygdala (an almond-shaped neural structure in the anterior part of the temporal lobe of the cerebrum; intimately connected with the hypothalamus and the hippocampus and the cingulated gyrus; as part of the limbic system it plays an important role in motivation and emotional behavior), and fornicate gyrus (the horseshoe-shaped cortical convolution bordering the hilus of the cerebral hemisphere; its upper limb is formed by the cingulate gyrus, its lower by the parahippocampal gyrus).
Besides the hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala, there are other areas in the structures near to the limbic system that are intimately connected to it:
The ventral tegmental area of the brain stem (just below the thalamus) consists of dopamine pathways that seem to be responsible for pleasure. People with damage here tend to have difficulty getting pleasure in life, and often turn to alcohol, drugs, sweets, and gambling.
The basal ganglia (including the caudate nucleus, the putamen, the globus pallidus, and the substantia nigra) lie over and to the sides of the limbic system, and are tightly connected with the cortex above them. They are responsible for repetitive behaviors, reward experiences, and focusing attention. If you are interested in learning more about the basal ganglia, click here.
The prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the frontal lobe which lies in front of the motor area, is also closely linked to the limbic system. Besides apparently being involved in thinking about the future, making plans, and taking action, it also appears to be involved in the same dopamine pathways as the ventral tegmental area, and plays a part in pleasure and addiction.
The cingulate gyrus is the part of the cerebrum that lies closest to the limbic system, just above the corpus collosum. It provides a pathway from the thalamus to the hippocampus, seems to be responsible for focusing attention on emotionally significant events, and for associating memories to smells and to pain.
Limbic system Functions:
The limbic system in our brains serves as an organizer of information presented from sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. In fact, all of the information presented to the brain either sensory, imaginative, verbal, motor, invisible (electromagnetic, trace chemicals, etc.), internal from hormones, chemicals, etc. and external is processed at some point through the limbic system. It is a pathway between the thinking and acting part of your brain (cortex) and the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus in turn regulates water balance, hunger, thirst, body temperature, circadian rhythms, and hormone production by the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland in turn influences the thyroid, adrenal, testes and ovaries. One can describe it as a communications network between that which is automatic (unconscious or autonomic) and that which becomes physical or emotional behavior.
An injury to the limbic system might cause an abnormal communication of information to higher centers and cause an inappropriate response. For example a slight chemical exposure might be interpreted by the brain as a toxic chemical. Where the limbic system is injured determines the kind of disturbance you might experience. For example, a temporal lobe injury might cause problems with recalling memories at will.
It may also be injured by a transient lack of oxygen that might occur during surgery, a stroke, overexertion at high altitude, a seizure, childbirth, etc.
The limbic system may also be injured during an infection either in the brain or near the brain such as meningitis, encephalitis, a severe ear or deep sinus infection, etc.
It can be surprising the number of possible initiating or exacerbating events identified with a careful review of your own delivery, childhood, adult life, etc.
Many may have seemed minor at the time and taken for granted. Stress, lack of sleep, intake of certain foods, and weather changes seem to make the limbic system more susceptible to improper functioning. Because the nose allows chemicals to enter the brain directly (olfactory center), chemical sensitivity can develop through a process described as "kindling" and cause the limbic system to send messages making you feel ill. Very low levels of chemicals can thus influence the way we feel.
The limbic system can be injured by trauma such as a fall, auto accident, an object striking the head, concussion, etc.
Symptoms may include:
Disturbance of selective attention of auditory and visual input.
Disorders of visual perception.
Impaired organization and categorization of verbal material.
Disturbance of language comprehension.
Impaired long-term memory.
Altered personality and affective behavior.
Altered sexual behavior.
Being overly emotional.
Disturbance of auditory sensation and perception.
If metastatic cancer is suspected, a CXR is required.
Visual field defects can be assessed by perimetry.
A possible or certain diagnosis of a cerebrovascular event (CVE) requires investigation.
Modern imaging studies can now localize lesions with great accuracy. MRI tends to be better than CT.
Medical Treatment: Treatment is mainly based on symptoms. Medications for persons with brain injury are carefully selected, prescribed, and monitored by the physician on an individual basis. The physician must explain medication's purpose, side effects and precautions.
Treatment of symptoms is much as for other conditions and includes graded resumption of activity, antidepressant medication, and cognitive restructuring. Early single session therapy can prevent post-concussion syndrome following mild head injury as effectively as traditional outpatient therapy
Disclaimer: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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