As we spoke about previously, the Limbic system is thought to mediate significant portions of our emotional states and behaviors. We’d like to take a second to view the limbic system in the context of mental health. Today, we are going to break down psychiatric illness in relation to the limbic system!
The literature on the limbic system and mental health is quite vast. Scientists have found significant abnormalities in the limbic structures in several psychiatric illnesses. Functional brain imaging has provided evidence that suggests a correlation between Bipolar Disorder and enlargement of the amygdala and striatum (Strakowski, DelBello, & Adler, 2004). Additionally, individuals with schizophrenia often show abnormal connectivity between neuronal networks between limbic structures and the cerebral cortex, as well as altered function of dopamine-based reward pathways (White et al., 2007).
The list of conditions that are believed to be influenced by abnormalities in limbic structures is quite comprehensive, including my two previous examples, as well as, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, anxiety disorders, and even dementia (RajMohan & Mohandas, 2007)! The more scientists study the limbic system and its role and interactions within the brain, the closer we get to truly understanding the underlying brain mechanisms behind some of our most debilitating psychiatric disorders.