THE LIMBIC SYSTEM
It is located deep in the brain. It consists of the cingulate gyrus, thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala and hippocampus. The most notable functions of these structures are processing and regulation of emotions, formation and storage of memories, sexual arousal and feelings of pleasure, and learning. The limbic system is often referred to as the emotion center of the brain
THE EXECUTIVE SYSTEM
It is located towards the front of the brain. It consists of the prefrontal cortex, basal ganglia, and thalamus. The most notable functions of these structures include working memory ( the ability to retain and manipulate pieces of information over a short time, such as remembering a phone number, a specific task, etc… This form of memory is what we use to function in everyday life), mental flexibility and self-control. This system is crucial for emotion regulation as it applies “brakes” on the emotion centers.
THE AUTONOMIC SYSTEM
The autonomic system is a network of nerves that extend throughout your head and body. Some of those nerves extend directly out from your brain, while others extend out from your spinal cord, which relays signals from your brain into those nerves. It is divided into 3 branches:
- Sympathetic nervous system: it activates body processes that incite you to take action, especially in times of stress or danger. This system is responsible for your body’s “fight-or-flight” response.
- Parasympathetic nervous system: This branch does the opposite of your sympathetic nervous system. it is responsible for the “rest-and-digest” body processes, which include relaxing and calming your body.
- Enteric nervous system: it manages how your body digests food.
The sympathetic and parasympathetic branches typically alternate with each other depending on the situation, thus creating a balancing act that is necessary for well-being and survival. However, with chronic stress, the sympathetic system often runs on its own, unimpeded by the parasympathetic system, which can have detrimental effects on your physical and mental health.