Brain and Behavior

The Major Structures of the Brain

Do both sides of the brain do the same thing?

The two halves of the brain are almost, but not quite, identical. With regard to the cortex, there is considerable difference in the functions they perform. This difference between right and left sides of the brain is called lateralization. The left side of the cortex is involved with language comprehension and speech production. The right side of the brain is involved with spatial and emotional processing and facial recognition. Because of lateralization, the impact of brain damage (for example due to stroke) will differ depending on the side of the brain affected.

What is the limbic system?

The limbic system is the seat of our emotions. The term was first introduced by James Papez in 1937 and refers to a group of brain structures in the middle of the brain. The original Papez circuit included the hippocampus, the fornix, the mammilary bodies, the anterior nucleus of the thalamus, and the cingulate gyrus. Over time the boundaries of the limbic system were expanded, although the exact definition of the limbic system is still not universal. For our purposes, however, we can include the amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, septum, and cingulate gyrus. These regions are all involved with emotional and motivational processing.


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