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Food Addiction: A Scientific Look at the Brain – Thomas DeLauer
The limbic system. When I first heard about the limbic system, I thought it had something to do with my limbs. I thought it had something to do with mobility. I started to learn that the limbic system is your brain and your brain’s ability to be able to delegate different different tasks but also receive information and process it correctly, and what does this have to do with health, wellness, and getting in shape? Well, a lot more than you might think. In fact, I would go as far as saying it is the end all be all when it comes down to it.
You see, today I’m gonna talk about the limbic system and how you can start making some changes to your limbic system to help you get in better shape, to help you make better decisions, but first off, we have to understand what exactly the limbic system is. The limbic system is a series of complex structures of nerves and everything like that that sit at the top of your brain stem. It’s made up of three primary components. We’re talking about the hypothalamus, the hippocampus, and the amygdala. Now there are a lot of other components of the limbic system as well but we’re gonna focus on these three today.
Now the limbic system for a long time has been known as the paleo-mammalian cortex. The reason it’s called the paleo-mammalian cortex is because it’s believed to have been the first part of the brain that was ever developed and the reason is it was purely a survival component of the brain. You see, this paleo-mammalian cortex was designed to receive input from the external world and process it for survival, fear, anger, everything like that, things that need to be known. Also, simple things like keeping the lungs functioning and the brain functioning in the first place. So that gives us a lot of sense as to what this actual limbic system does for us today. It processes emotional events and it allows us to register them so that we can live life so we can form habits, so we can know what feels good, so we can know what feels bad, and so we can know what works for us in the future, so now you can start to see how this plays a big role in how we get in shape. How many times have you ever gone to the pantry or gone to the refrigerator and just had no idea what you were doing, you just stop all of a sudden and realize that you’re just munching on food? Well, it’s a perfect example of the limbic system being a little bit out of whack. Your habit formation is totally out of whack.
Okay, so before I talk about the big three, the hypothalamus, the hippocampus, and the amygdala, I want to talk about a couple other small subsections of the limbic system that I’m gonna save for other videos. The first one is the cingulate gyrus. The cingulate gyrus focuses attention on emotional events. That’s the purpose of that one. Then we have the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia is the habit formation. The basal ganglia is everything that allows us to cause repetitive motion, repetitive thought, repetitive action in our body. Those are the simple things like why am I eating, why am I doing this, or why do I have these weird letter habits, like I have this one interesting tic where a lot of times I kind of pull on my hair on my sideburn. That’s a perfect example of the basal ganglia being a little bit out of whack because it’s triggering just this kind of repetitive motion. Again, we’re gonna save it for another video.
Then we’ve got the ventral tegmental area. The ventral tegmental area is strongly associated with the dopamine responses. Dopamine is our feel good or reward sense.
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