Definition of limbic system in US English:

limbic system


  • A complex system of nerves and networks in the brain, involving several areas near the edge of the cortex concerned with instinct and mood. It controls the basic emotions (fear, pleasure, anger) and drives (hunger, sex, dominance, care of offspring).

    • ‘We have these incredible frontal lobes that put the brakes on the limbic system and that enable us to judge, not to act on our impulses.’
    • ‘The olfactory system is attached to the limbic system, which links the left and right brain and the voluntary and involuntary nervous centres.’
    • ‘However, we do know that breathing can be ‘driven’ by activation of the amygdaloid nucleus within the limbic system - a complex brain area concerned with feeling and emotions.’
    • ‘If basic emotions like fear are mediated exclusively by the limbic system, the higher cognitive emotions such as love and guilt seem to involve much more cortical processing.’
    • ‘Investigators observed that melody appears to act on the brain's emotional core, the limbic system, which moves us to joy, awe, peace, fear and sadness.’
    • ‘The dopamine-blocking action of haloperidol also shifts the dopamine-acetylcholine activity ratio in the limbic system.’
    • ‘Affective and motivational dimensions of pain were proposed as mediated by medial thalamic nuclei, the prefrontal cortex, and the limbic system.’
    • ‘Emotions, designed by natural selection and controlled by the limbic system of the brain, motivate infants and children to protest sleep isolation from parents by crying.’
    • ‘The olfactory nerves send messages directly to the limbic system in our brains.’
    • ‘Serotonin containing neurons have their cell bodies in the midline raphe nuclei of the brain stem and project to portions of the hypothalamus, the limbic system, the neocortex and the spinal cord.’
    • ‘The amygdala, part of the limbic system, determines emotional response to external stimuli.’
    • ‘It may be argued that the long duration of implantation of depth electrodes in the limbic system could decrease the local threshold for induction of afterdischarges.’
    • ‘The last part of the article discusses the connection between music and emotions, stating that the place where music has its most profound effect is in the brain's emotional core - the limbic system.’
    • ‘Immediate verbal recall was measured using stories from Wechsler's Memory Scale-Revised, which tests the limbic system of the temporal lobes.’
    • ‘Exposure to extreme circumstances may lead to subtle structural abnormalities in the frontal lobe, which is closely related to the limbic system.’
    • ‘The limbic system is responsible for moods, creativity and sexuality.’
    • ‘When any substance is inhaled, the olfactory nerve is stimulated providing a direct pathway to the brain's limbic system, or emotional ‘control centre’.’
    • ‘It also works in the brain through the limbic system by regulating the homeostatic mechanisms of the body such as heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.’
    • ‘The other two are the left half of the limbic system and the right half of the limbic system.… A model can be constructed that displays the four thinking structures in four quadrants (illustration below).’
    • ‘Because alcohol affects emotional centers in the limbic system, alcoholics can become anxious, depressed and even suicidal.’


Late 19th century: limbic from French limbique, from Latin limbus ‘edge’.


limbic system

/ˈlɪmbɪk ˌsɪstəm//ˈlimbik ˌsistəm/