Effects of Cannabinoids on the Limbic System
A major function of the CNS is to keep the internal environment stable and constant (homeostasis). The limbic system in general and the hypothalamus in particular are vital for this through three major, closely related processes: the secretion of hormones, the central control of the autonomic nervous system, and the development of emotional and motivational states. The limbic system is the primitive brain ("reptilian" brain) and consists of deeply seated brain structures: the hippocampus, communicating through the fornix with mamillary bodies (close to the hypothalamus), themselves linked to the anterior thalamus and feeding and receiving information from association areas and frontal cortex, critical in memory making and retrieving; the olfactory bulbs and the amygdala, instrumental in behavior and receiving highly processed sensory information; and the limbic system, with its own cortex, the cingulate cortex, wrapped around these structures and very much involved in behavior. The limbic sys-
tem receives information from all association cortex areas of the brain and communicates with the frontal lobe, the hypothalamus, and the brainstem. Hypothalamic and limbic neurons interact with the reticular formation and the neocortex for maintenance of a general state of awareness (arousal). The roles of the limbic system can be simplified to three major tasks: the expression of behavior; the control of the hypothalamus (homeostatic functions, circadian rhythm, and reproductive behavior and control); and memory (Fig. 9).
Continue reading here: Hippocampus and Memory Impairment
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