Adolescents | The Limbic System And Emotional Health.

Limbic System
The Limbic System And Emotional Health. 

The Limbic System And Emotional Health In Adolescent

The brain is complex but at the same time a fascinating network of nerves, neurological pathways, and synapses. The brain is one of the largest organs in the human body, yet it only constitutes about two percent of the human's total body mass. Did you know that the brain doesn't reach full maturity until the mid to late twenties?  Maybe; this is why so many of us make irrational, and immoral decisions during adolescence and young adulthood. 

Statistical research suggests that minority youth are incarcerated for similar crimes disproportionately higher than their non-minority counterparts in part due to 
  • legal representation, 
  • court conviction, 
  • arrest, 
  • and sentencing. 

Males are incarcerated on average more than females for all demographics.
Adolescents and their emotional health

The youth of low socioeconomic status who deal with chronic and cumulative stress are at greater risk of developing developmental deficits, mental illness, and are at greater risk of being incarcerated due to criminal misconduct. Many young adults are being forced into a lifestyle of criminal deviance, and culture as a result of past deeds, yet we say that they have paid their debt to society and that they have been rehabilitated. 

Humans being are ostracized from workforce participation and other social systems. Am I my brother's keeper?" Is it the Government's responsibility to help the poor? 

Before I go any further I want to make this clear; I am not defending murderers, rapists, child molesters, or little Billy who decides to walk into a school and open fire on a group of innocent people. It's my belief that preadolescence, adolescence, and young adults are at a disadvantage, or are less able to manage their emotional health than adults due to the lack of life experiences and continuing brain development.

Synaptic Pruning Of the Brain: 

Synaptic pruning is the process in which axons and dendrites decay and die off the process starts during early childhood, continues beyond the adolescent years, and well into young adulthood. 

Pruning is a normal process of growth and development. However, researches have proven that pruning intensifies when children are under chronic stress. Therefore, children who live in constant fear, or in absolute poverty are at greater risk of developing mental health-related issues.

Limbic System: 

Most neuroscientists would agree that the limbic system consists of the 
  • thalamus, 
  • hypothalamus
  • hippocampus, 
  • amygdala, 
  • and other sub-cortical structures. 
limbic system
what makes up the total limbic system?

However, there may exist disagreements on what structures make up the total limbic system, or what structures should be included in the brain region known as the limbic system, yet what is generally accepted is that the limbic system plays a major role in our emotional health and memories.


The interesting fact about the thalamus is that most all sensory organs with the exception of the olfactory system which facilitates the sense of smell are connected to the thalamus. 

Therefore, the thalamus serves as a sensory relay station transporting external experiences from the sensory organs to various parts of the brain. 

The Thalamus is connected to the Hippocampus which serves to consolidate working or short-term memory into long-term memories and the cerebral cortex which is responsible for higher brain functions. 

The cerebrum consists of four lobes it allows us to process information that is related to 

  • thinking, 
  • problem-solving, 
  • and making rational decisions. 

Research suggests that on average the cerebral cortex does not reach full maturation in humans until at or around the age of twenty-five. Therefore, one might rationalize that individuals with poor brain development, or undeveloped brains are at greater risk of amygdala hijack, and poor decision making.

The Amygdala: 

Research support that individuals continue to experience fear even after the amygdala is damaged, yet research also suggests that people's ability to detect and respond to threats is diminished. Neuroscientists indicated that there is a relationship between amygdala damage and emotional fear, and anger. however; this phenomenon is not clearly understood. 

The amygdala's connections to the hippocampus may be why memories can trigger strong emotions. 

The amygdala is involved in several processes: autonomic response, parasympathetic and sympathetic response(fight or flight), or fear response, the release of hormones, and memory. 

The amygdala is responsible for detecting and responding to threats.


 Kluver-Bucy Syndrome:

Heinrich Kluver a German and American psychologist, and Paul Bucy an American neurosurgeon and neuropathologist gained notoriety for conducting experimental research on rhesus monkeys. with bilateral temporal lobectomies. 

Dramatic changes in their behaviors were observed after being subjected to bilateral damage to their amygdala, which encompasses the following: hyperorality, hyper sexually, diminished ability to detect threats, and respond to danger. Similar behaviors after damage to the amygdala have been observed in humans.

Amygdala Hijack:

The thalamus sends sensory information to the cortex as well as the amygdala. The amygdala has the capacity to quickly assess environmental stimuli and compare them with stored information in order to assess the threat. The amygdala then signals the hypothalamus triggering the fight or flight response which can result in what has been termed the amygdala hijack. 

According to Daniel Goleman," the amygdala hijack consist of an immediate, and overwhelming emotional response that is out of measure with the actual stimulus because it has triggered a much more significant emotional threat." 

Goleman uses the term in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence. The amygdala can activate the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis and reduce the functioning of the executive brain. 


It's my belief that people should be held accountable for their actions and that the consequence should reflect the act, but to what extent should the legal system impose penalties on adolescents and people with mental illness

Should adolescents and people with mental illness-related disorders continue to be ostracized from resources and opportunities after committing crimes and serving time in prison or receiving other penalties and successfully satisfying their debt to society even though the courts say that such individuals are rehabilitated?  

I say once more,” I am not defending murderers, rapists, child molesters, or little Billy who decides to walk into a school and open fire on a group of innocent people.”  Adolescents and individuals with mental health-related disorders are at greater risk than adults of having poor emotional health and experiencing amygdala hijack. People with immature, or undeveloped brains are more likely to make irrational and unethical decisions than individuals who have fully developed brains and more life experiences.

Author: Gregory M. Green is the author of various topics in the Social Sciences section of Inveigle MagazineHe writes on informative topics that bring awareness to the world. We are so pleased to have him as a part of Inveigle Magazine's Team. Follow us @Inveiglemagazi1. Follow me on LinkedIn. View more articles by Gregory M. Green

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