[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
January 1971

Anatomical Bias of the Limbic System Concept: A Proposed Reorientation

Author Affiliations

Toronto; Mexico City
From the Department of Surgery (Neurosurgery) (Dr. Livingston), University of Toronto, Toronto, and the Institute of Biomedical Investigation (Dr. Escobar), National University of Mexico, Mexico City.

Arch Neurol. 1971;24(1):17-21. doi:10.1001/archneur.1971.00480310045003

THE HISTORICAL development of the limbic system concept has given major emphasis to the limbic structures of the medial wall of the cerebral hemisphere. This persisting medial orientation fails to give appropriate recognition to important limbic system components which are oriented in the basolateral plane. Such a conceptual imbalance can be corrected without altering current limbic system nomenclature.

In 1878, Broca1 designated as "le grand lobe limbique," a group of anatomically prominent structures on the medial wall of the cerebral hemisphere, including the cingulate, retrosplenial, and hippocampal gyri. These gyri, traditionally regarded as part of the olfactory apparatus, form a "limbus" (rim or margin) surrounding the site of lateral evagination of the embryonic neural canal from which the hemispheres develop.

During the following 60 years, there was increasing evidence to suggest that the structures of Broca's limbic lobe are not exclusively olfactory. Prior to 1901 on the