A brief review of the anatomy and physiology of the limbic system

Can J Neurol Sci. 2009 Aug;36 Suppl 2:S84-7.


The limbic system as described by Broca, Papez and MacLean is an important concept for clinicians and basic researchers but remains controversial. Part anatomy and part physiology, it is hypothesized to be the primary brain mechanism responsible for the well being of the animal. The limbic system processes sensory input from the external and internal environment to determine, through memory and motivation, the emotional, autonomic, motor and cognitive responses important for self-preservation and survival. Disruption of limbic function by ictal activity is most commonly seen in temporal lobe epilepsy, but seizures in other parts of the limbic system can result in equally disturbing consequences.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Limbic System / anatomy & histology*
  • Limbic System / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods