A revised limbic system model for memory, emotion and behaviour

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013 Sep;37(8):1724-37. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.07.001. Epub 2013 Jul 9.


Emotion, memories and behaviour emerge from the coordinated activities of regions connected by the limbic system. Here, we propose an update of the limbic model based on the seminal work of Papez, Yakovlev and MacLean. In the revised model we identify three distinct but partially overlapping networks: (i) the Hippocampal-diencephalic and parahippocampal-retrosplenial network dedicated to memory and spatial orientation; (ii) The temporo-amygdala-orbitofrontal network for the integration of visceral sensation and emotion with semantic memory and behaviour; (iii) the default-mode network involved in autobiographical memories and introspective self-directed thinking. The three networks share cortical nodes that are emerging as principal hubs in connectomic analysis. This revised network model of the limbic system reconciles recent functional imaging findings with anatomical accounts of clinical disorders commonly associated with limbic pathology.

Keywords: Amnesia; Antisocial behaviour; Autism spectrum disorder; Bipolar disorder; Brain networks; Dementia; Depression; Emotion; Limbic system; Memory; Obsessive–compulsive disorder; Schizophrenia; Tractography; White matter connections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Limbic System / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Nerve Net / physiology