Neuroscience is teaching us that parts of the brain are instrumental to our emotional health. The limbic system, which is a complex series of networks and nerves in the brain, plays a vital role in our emotional system. Through the help of specific parts, it helps to control basic emotions and drives. Let’s get specific:
- Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) is the front part of our brain and what we often refer to as our rational brain. Built to help us pay attention, the PFC helps us with what we focus on: planning, impulse control, judgment and insight. When our PFC is activated, we tend to be goal-oriented and focused on facts. It helps to control our emotions by bringing reality into the processing. Our PFC is often not fully developed until young adult hood – which explains all of our silly behaviour when we were teenagers 🙂
- Amygdala is an almond shaped structure that helps with emotional processing by alerting us to danger. It reacts quickly, and is responsible for the fight or flight response. When this area is activated, we tend to feel unsafe and anxious. It is important to remember that the amygdala responds to perceived fears as well.
- Hippocampus is the part of our brain responsible for memory, especially long term memories – those that are resistant to forgetting. The hippocampus helps to link certain emotions or sensations to those memories; acting as a shipping center, temporarily storing and combining before shipping it off to long term memory.
Knowing these parts of the brain can help us to understand our emotional system, to make it more tangible – to become acquainted with it’s necessary functionality. Just another thing we can be curious about 🙂