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Limbic system

The limbic system is not a proper structure, but a complex interconnection of several functional centres in the cerebral cortex. The limbic system controls behaviour, emotions and intellect and therefore plays a crucial role in learning processes.


Topography → Topographical structures are defined by their location in the brain.

Limbic system → A complex functional unit consisting of parts of the cerebrum and parts of the diencephalon. It closely links different functional structures.

Functional connections → A functional connection is a linkage of different functional structures that are not topographically (locally) located next to each other.


The limbic system is a complex functional unit consisting of parts of the brain and parts of the diencephalon. The limbic system includes the basal ganglia, the hippocampus, and the amygdala (amygdalar nucleus). The limbic system includes structures and areas of the basal ganglia as well as the cerebellum and diencephalon. However, it is not defined by location (topographically), but by complex functional connections, as all the structures involved are closely related to each other.

The limbic system controls our affective behaviour and therefore emotions, feelings and sexuality, but also intellectual performance. In addition, the limbic system is directly involved in the storage of memory content and, therefore, in the organisation of learning processes. It evaluates the information it receives as good or bad, and thus not only controls our behaviour, but plays a decisive role in learning processes.

The limbic system precedes short-term memory and regulates what information actually reaches the brain and what is not processed. Basically, learning is nothing more than storing new information in our brain. Learning processes are possible only if attention is paid to the information received. Analysing the meaning of information takes only a fraction of a second and is not done in a strictly analytical way, but rather emotionally and comparatively. This function of the limbic system can be compared to a filter that is permeable only to certain information. Favourable conditions for the passing of information and, therefore, for the possibility of storing information, are positive emotions, similar previous experiences or the novelty value of an information.

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What does this mean for my teaching practice?

Learning is a complex function involving emotions, behaviour and intellect. The success of learning also depends on the cooperation of these functions of the limbic system.

Reflection question

How can I increase a student's learning when learning is based on a very complex system?


1) The limbic system is a

A) specific area of the brain
B) a complex interconnection of different areas

2) The limbic system is crucial for

A) coordinative motor skills
B) learning processes in general
C) conscious thought


1️⃣ → B) complex interconnection of different areas
2️⃣ → B) Learning processes in general

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