Brain Tours

Where are mental health problems located?




Think about it: if you had pain in your toes, you'd be wondering why.  And if a doctor or nurse told you there wasn't enough blood getting to your toes, you'd probably want to know if it was a problem with your pump (heart), or your pipes (blood vessels), or maybe some valve or something.  You might need to learn a little more about blood flow to your toes.  

But what about if you have emotional pain (or fear, or obsessive thinking)?  Where should you look to understand where that is coming from?  Recent research has shown us specific brain structures that are involved in different mental health problems.  Here you will find "Guided Tours" of some of those structures. .  

Here's a brain (gender?) viewed from the outside.  If you'd like a Tour of this photo identifying each part, click here.   The Tours below will take you inside the brain to show you the parts associated with specific mental health problems -- mood, fear, memory, hormone control, and obsessions.

Start with the first Tour below about your 3 brains (you thought you just had one?). This will show you how the main brain regions relate to one another. Then you may pick the tour you wish, below.  If you're going to try to work through the whole thing, read from 1-6 in that order, as the anatomy gets more complex as you go, and the early ones are the easiest to figure out. 


 Brain Structure

 1: Your 3 brains in one 

 Reptilian Brain, Old Mammalian Brain, Cortex

 2. Mood  

 Anterior Cingulate

3. Memory       


4. Fear       


5. Obsessions*      

 Basal ganglia (and frontal lobes)

6. Hormone Control   


*[Update 11/2008:Amazingly, since the original study came out showing changes in the basal ganglia, the waters got pretty muddy.  The current working model is some sort of a defect in a circuit that involves the frontal cortex and the "anterior cingulate" (the latter can be viewed via the Mood tour) as well as the basal ganglia.  So there's not really much to see at this point, although research in this area continues.]


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