The Limbic System And Psychiatric Disorders

Although lesions of limbic structures do not result in apparent sensory or motor deficits, dysfunction of these structures has been associated with a variety of psychiatric disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-complusive disorder, and schizophrenia. For example, structural changes have been noted in the hippocampal formation, medial thalamus, and prefrontal cortex in schizophrenic subjects. Observations from positron emission tomography indicate that the amygdala and related parts of the prefrontal cortex and medial thalamus are abnormally active in patients suffering from severe unipolar and bipolar depression. Cellular changes, especially in glial cells, have also been reported in the orbital and medial prefrontal cortex and amygdala in depressed subjects. Patients with lesions of these prefrontal areas have also been reported to have a relatively high incidence of depression. As noted previously, lesions of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex produce severe deficits in emotional reactions and in making choices.

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Suggested Reading

Aggleton, J. P. (Ed.) (1992). The Amygdala: Neurobiological Aspects of Emotion, Memory, and Mental Dysfunction. Wiley-Liss, New York.

Bjorklund, A., Hokfelt, T., and Swanson, L. W. (Eds.) (1987). Integrated systems of the CNS, part I: Hypothalamus, hippocampus, amygdala, retina. In Handbook of Chemical Neuroanatomy, Vol. 5, Elsevier, New York.

Broca, P. (1878). Anatomie comparee circonvolutions cerebrales: Le grand lobe limbique et la scissure limbique in la serie des mammiferes. Rev. Anthropol. Ser. 2 1, 384-498.

Cavada, C., and Schultz, W. (Eds.) (2000). The mysterious orbitofrontal cortex [Special issue]. Cerebral Cortex 10,205-342.

Damasio, A. R. (1995). Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. Morrow, New York.

Fuster, J. M. (1997). Prefrontal Cortex: Anatomy, Physiology, and Neuropsychology of the Frontal Lobe, 3rd ed. Lippincott-Raven, Philadelphia.

LeDoux, J. E. (1994). Emotion, memory and the brain. Sci. Am. 270, 50-57.

Papez, J. W. (1937). A proposed mechanism for emotion. Arch. Neurol. Psychiatr. 38, 725-743.

Squire, L. R., and Zola, S. M. (1997). Amnesia, memory and brain systems. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. London B Biol. Sci. 352, 16631673.

Vogt, B. A., and Gabriel, M. (Eds.) (1993). Neurobiology of Cingulate Cortex and Limbic Thalamus: A Comprehensive Handbook. Birkhauser, Boston.

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    How is the limbic system related to mental illness?
    2 years ago

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