Day 11: #Nando25 Challenge: The Deep Limbic System

The #Nando25 Challenge Idea: The deep limbic system is in the middle of your brain and it’s approximately the size of a walnut and it’s a key element in human function. I’m going to get a bit scientific but in a sexy way, so it’s all good. The deep limbic system is critical in human behavior and survival. If we look at things through an evolutionary standpoint, it’s been a part of the mammalian brain function allowing animals to experience and express emotion.

As the human race evolved + brain evolved, we became masters (or at least better) at problem solving, planning, organizing and having rational thoughts. It’s the deep limbic system that adds the emotional flavoring to life. This is the part of the brain that sets the emotional tone of who we are. When it’s overactive, we get stuck on negative thoughts/behaviors. When we are depressed and stuck in negativity, this part of the brain lights up, like the Fourth of July, with dark shading. It’s this darkness that the events in our lives are filtered through, it’s how you interpret your daily events. It’s like keeping a filing system in our brain, except everything ends up in the same folder, “THIS SUCKS!” If you have a conversation with someone who is set on negative, or who’s deep limbic system is overactive, it could go something like this:

You: Oh my God! I just found out I won the lottery!
Person with Overactive Deep Limbic System: That’s a lot of taxes you’re gonna have to pay.

I know what you’re thinking, I know someone like that, and she’s a total bitch! If you can’t identify someone like that–you might want to take a quick peek in the mirror. And if it’s not you, then Yay! But if it is you…there’s HOPE! (Keep reading)

It’s also in the deep limbic system that we keep highly charged emotional memories (both positive and negative). When bad + traumatic stuff happens, like having your pet cat killed in a horrific dryer accident (my sister doesn’t like cats to this day because of my mom accidentally turning on the dryer when our cat Mikey jumped in while she wasn’t looking) or why the rain turns your sexual desires on high, because early in life you experienced great sex with a hung Latin stud outside in his backyard one hot August summer night (I will save that one for another time).


The deep limbic system also affects motivation + drive. If it’s overactive (remember, stuck on negative) then motivation is low. Makes sense, right? What would motivate you to go celebrate your co-worker’s promotion–since in your mind it only means you’re now stuck doing all of their work until a replacement is hired.

Bonding + Being Social + Smell + Being sexual is also affected by the deep limbic system, it’s all connected. Think about it. This is the area that gives you this experience: You’re at a bar, and you smell “that” cologne, and it immediately takes you back to your college days when you were so free + open with that Italian who showed you the dirtier version of the Dirty Sanchez! Smells you associate with sex cool the deep limbic system and intensify our mood for love-making. Re-read that one–one more time. Orgasms have been identified with being mini-seizures in the deep limbic system. The chemical cocktail released in the brain explode after an orgasm changes our brain chemistry, especially in the deep limbic system explains why a one-night stand doesn’t always work with certain people because their deep limbic system is stimulated to the point of bonding (remember, this is where bonding happens) that it ends up attaching itself emotionally, on a limbic level, to the other person. And you thought you were just clingy!

The Lesson: When the deep limbic system is turned on high or overactive, it lowers the function of the prefrontal cortex (the area that manages rational decisions). Explains stalking, checking someone’s phone for cheating texts, or why you think your boss hates you.

The #Nando25 Challenge Homework: Be aware of times when your deep limbic system is overactive. It’s those times when you seem to be “stuck on negative”.

1. Start keeping track of when you get “stuck” and start doing something about it.
2. The Lancet, a British journal documented the benefits of aromatherapy and how it made people less depressed + stressed. Light a candle with a soothing scent, (cinnamon) or keep a vile of lavender around and take it out or spray some around you to cool off the deep limbic system. (This is why those of who  pre-registered for the challenge + received a “starter kit” got a lavender-scented candle!) Light it up baby!
3. Allow yourself to be more social + keep it mind, we are social creatures.
4. Try Saint John’s Wort — an herbal supplement that shows to have a positive impact on the deep limbic system by cooling it off. Try 500 milligrams a day 2X a day.
5. Exercise also helps cool off the deep limbic system because of the production + release of endorphins. And guess what part of the brain has several endorphin receptors, the deep limbic system. Good grief–go find a treadmill, NOW!
6. Let me know you “got it!” by tweeting me, “Nando, I got it, the deep limbic system is the powerful walnut in my brain!

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