Uncus: structure and functions of this part of the brain

The brain is, as we know, one of the most important organs for our survival. The main organ of the nervous system regulates and modulates the functioning of other systems in the body.

But it is not a simple uniform mass of neural tissue, but consists of different structures which can be divided into different parts, the upper part and the outer part being the cerebral cortex. One of the structures that are part of the cerebral cortex is the uncus, Which is also related to the limbic system. We will talk about this structure of the nervous system in this article.

    Uncus: definition and location of this structure

    If we look at the cerebral cortex, we can see a lot of small convolutions and grooves, which allows the entire cortex to stay in a space as compressed as the inside of the skull. One of these convolutions is around the hippocampus, at the end we can find the uncus.

    The Uncus is therefore one end of the parahippocampal gyrus or hippocampal rotation, part of the cortex of the temporal lobe of the brain (especially the paleocortex). Although it is part of this cortex, it cannot be seen with the naked eye, as it is widely inserted inside the brain.

    This structure with hook shape (being the shape that gives it the name) it is also part of the limbic system, Connection with the hippocampus (some authors even consider it part of the hippocampal formation) at the head of this organ and with the amygdala (which partly merges with this structure).

    Functions associated with uncus

    This structure plays an important role in perform different cognitive processes. The uncus participates and is especially associated with functions related to the limbic system and smell.

    1. Participation in the report

    One of its main functions is to participate in the codification of the employment relationship and to contribute to its consolidation. It has also been observed that it helps record new information as memories, Be involved in antegrade memory.

      2. Autonomous consciousness

      It is assumed that the uncus and its nerve connections have a high level of relationship with the autonoethical consciousness, that is, through which we construct the story of our life by placing ourselves in them.

      3. Processing of olfactory information

      Another of its functions is linked to the olfactory system, processing its information and transmitting its information. Hyperstimulation uncus can generate causes the existence of olfactory hallucinations. It is also responsible for the presence of strange olfactory sensations before or during an epileptic seizure.

      4. Space navigation

      Finally, it is also linked to space navigation, contribute to the formation of brain maps and the ability to orientate oneself.

      5. Mood and anxiety

      The fact that it is connected to the limbic system makes the uncus linked to the regulation of mood and anxiety, alterations related to these elements may exist if it is damaged.

        Uncus alterations and injuries

        Although little known to most of the population, the uncus in a part of our body of great importance the injury or alteration can generate several symptoms and the harmful effects.

        The effects of a direct injury on the uncus can cause serious problems with orientation and maintenance of antegrade memory (that is, the ability to record new declarative information in our memory). Furthermore to be part of the paleocorteza and by receiving scent information, injury in this area can also result in partial or total loss of odor and aroma capture.

        The Uncus can become a hernia in such a way that I could pinch and compress the third cranial pair (oculomotor nerve), the cerebral aqueduct, the posterior cerebral artery and / or the third cranial pair. This would produce several effects of varying severity.

        One of the possible consequences is the generation of a stroke in case of compression of the posterior cerebral artery, which it could cause hypofunction or even death of part of the brain. Understanding the cranial nerve can generate mydriasis in the same hemisphere where the injury or hernia is located, being one of its most obvious symptoms at the physical level.

        However, if what is compressed is the midbrain, there may be loss or altered consciousness, hemiparesis, and we might even be faced with an injury that can lead to brain death of the affected subject.

        Relationship with various mental disorders

        Some symptoms of various neurological mental disorders in the alteration of the uncus. It has been linked to alterations in anxiety and mood, schizophrenia, various types of brain damage and poisoning, or even a study of a possible alteration in this area in psychopathic subjects.

          Bibliographical references:

          • Craig, MC; Catani, C .; Deeley, Q .; Latham, R .; Daly, E .; Canaan, R .; Picchioni, M .; McGuire, PK; Fahy, T. and Murphy, DGM (2009). “Altered Connections on the Path to Psychopathy”. Molecular psychiatry. 14 (10): 946-53, 907.
          • Kandel, ER; Schwartz, JH; Jessell, TM (2001). Principles of neuroscience. Madrid: MacGrawHill.
          • Madrigal, I. and Hernández, C. (2017). General information on traumatic brain injury in forensic medicine. Bibliographic review. Costa Rican Forensic Medicine 34 (1). Costa Rica.
          • Redolar, D .; Moreno, A .; Robles, N .; Soriano, C .; Torras, M .; Vale, AM (2010). Fundamentals of psychobiology. UOC Editorial. Barcelona.

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