Limbic Cross-Wiring: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment


Published on

January 17, 2024

Updated on

January 17, 2024

Medically reviewed by

Ben Ahrens, HHP

The limbic system is a group of brain structures that all work together and includes the amygdala, hypothalamus, hippocampus, and cingulate cortex. While there is still some debate as to what truly comprises the limbic system and what it does, the limbic system is generally thought to act as a control center for numerous important conscious and unconscious brain and bodily functions, some of which may include:

  • The assignment of emotional significance to a wide range of experiences.
  • Activation of the fight/flight/freeze response.
  • The formation of new memories.
  • Hormonal regulation
  • Regulating the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, which control unconscious body processes, like pulse, blood pressure, breathing, and arousal in response to physical or emotional circumstances.
  • Regulating functions of internal organs, such as the heart and intestines.
  • Controlling all aspects of emotional and motivational functioning, such as the desire for food, feelings of anger, pain, pleasure, and sexual desire.
  • Working with the immune system to defend against foreign invaders.

Under normal circumstances, the protective mechanisms of the limbic system would only become activated in times of appropriate danger or threat. However, if the limbic system becomes impaired as a result of various forms of trauma[1], some recent research seems to suggest that a sort of “limbic cross-wiring” effect may take place whereby the limbic system can become activated by benign, but conditioned stimuli[2].

If this is the case, then the so-called “limbic system cross-wiring” may cause distorted unconscious reactions, sensory perceptions, and protective responses. Over time, these faulty reactions may become conditioned, resulting in chronic, inappropriate activation of the immune, endocrine, and autonomic nervous systems. This constant activation may lead to numerous, seemingly unconnected symptoms.

This article will explore the “limbic-cross-wiring” hypothesis in more detail before diving into the rationale behind neuroplasticity or “brain retraining” programs such as re-origin®.

Symptoms of Limbic Cross-Wiring

According to the limbic cross-wiring hypothesis, various conditions may actually be downstream effects of a further upstream issue, that being, a chronically elevated stress response modulated by the limbic system. And a handful of conditions, currently being re-examined in the light of chronic sympathetic arousal include:

Each of the above conditions has its own distinct set of symptoms. However, it is thought many of those symptoms arise from a similar root cause, related to ongoing stress response. If Limbic cross-wiring is in fact capable of changing the stress response to a state of sympathetic dominance, as the aforementioned research suggests it is, then such secondary symptoms may also be attributed to the resulting misguided allocation of bodily resources:

  • Insomnia
  • Lack of sex drive
  • Latent infections
  • Poor circulation
  • Sensitivity to smell, taste, light, sound, and touch
  • Tinnitus
  • Mood swings
  • Brain fog

Possible Causes and Risk Factors of Limbic Cross-Wiring

As the hypothesis goes: Limbic cross-wiring occurs when the limbic system becomes “stuck” in a state of fight or flight. What causes this overactive stress response? It typically occurs when a high chronic stress load[3] combines with an acute infection, injury, or another traumatic event. The stress and acute trauma couple together to form what’s known as a neuroimmune association. As psychologist Donald Olding Hebb said, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” In other words, the brain forms associations when two things occur simultaneously.

As an example of this, let’s take a look at a fascinating study on behaviorally conditioned immunosuppression[4]. In summary: rats were given a particular viral infection through the medium of sugar-water.. As you would expect, their bodies mounted an immune response to the virus. Then an interesting thing happened. After several repetitions of this sequence, they were given just the sugar water (without the virus). Their bodies mounted the exact same immune response, even though no virus was present. These results suggest some aspect of the limbic system which is responsible for immune system modulation in the brains of these rat’s had been conditioned to trigger an immune response to sugar water as the conditioned stimulus[5].

This study demonstrates how the limbic system may become conditioned to trigger neurochemical and neuroimmune processes that lead to symptoms even without an actual threat.

How Limbic Cross-Wiring is Diagnosed

Because it has not been formally classified as its own condition, there is no formal diagnosis for limbic system cross-wiring. Nevertheless, more and more research[6] seems to suggest that some form of unconscious conditioning in the limbic system, involving the cross wiring of neuronal circuitry, could lead to many of the symptoms and conditions listed above, through a series of complex processes that are not yet fully understood. For this reason, that limbic cross-wiring hypothesis has yet to be deemed by conventional medicine as a viable causative factor. As such, you’re not likely to be diagnosed with limbic cross-wiring by your family doctor. There are, however, a number of practitioners, especially functional medicine and naturopathic doctors, who are educated on the science and research behind limbic cross-wiring.

That being said, limbic cross-wiring may be at least suspected if symptoms (ie. to an infection, injury or acutely stressful event) persist beyond the length of time that has been medically deemed appropriate.

How Limbic Cross-Wiring is Treated

The reality is that for most people with conditions such as OCD, PTSD, post-viral fatigue, and chronic pain, physicians aren’t fully aware of the root causes of suffering. While more research needs to be conducted, there does seem to be promise for those with such conditions. If the hypothesis is on point, and the bodily symptoms arise as downstream effects of a conditioning event that took place upstream in the limbic system, which as a result is producing an outsized stress response, then it is plausible, through neuroplasticity, to retrain the limbic system to reset it’s level of autonomic arousal through various forms of conscience conditioning or neuroplasticity brain retraining.

People affected by these disorders will try many different treatments to recover. The type of treatment depends on the specific condition, but some of the most common treatments include:

  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Diet changes
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Detoxification
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Massage therapy
  • Hypnosis

While people may experience some relief from the above treatments, anecdotally speaking, the results are typically only minor, temporary, and/or unsustainable. Additionally, most, if not all, of the above treatments require frequent visits with a healthcare professional. As you can imagine, this can be very expensive, making these treatments inaccessible to many people due to cost.

Through re-origin, a neuroplasticity-based treatment program, you’ll learn to apply an easy-to-follow, five-step neurocognitive technique to directly retrain the unconscious nervous and immune system responses believed to be at the root of your symptoms.

re-origin’s approach does not chase or mask symptoms, but rather works to rewire the part of the brain causing the dysfunction (the limbic system), resulting in long-lasting recovery. The program is easy to follow, self-directed, cost-effective, and takes just minutes a day to implement.

Plus, re-origin offers access to a community and coaching specifically geared towards helping people retrain their brains and return to feeling like themselves.

How to Live and Cope with Limbic Cross-Wiring

At re-origin, we believe that nobody should have to live or cope with the effects of limbic cross-wiring. We want you to eliminate your symptoms and conditions and re-establish peace, happiness, and health.

By applying our step-by-step methods and techniques, you’ll learn how to calm your nervous system and shift your body’s responses. This is done gradually with a process called incremental training. With dedication and repetition, you can break free from the vicious cycles of a maladaptive stress response and return to feeling like you again.

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A Final Word from re-origin

Regardless of what stressors or traumas led to your symptoms and conditions, recovering your power by correcting the limbic cross-wiring that may be at the root of your suffering does seem to be possible. Just by reading this article and taking in this new information, you’ve already started the process of retraining your brain!

With our proprietary neuroplasticity training, you may be able to change your neural pathways and step into a life free from symptoms and full of happiness and well-being.

Get started with the re-origin program today.


How does the limbic system affect behavior?
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The limbic system is responsible for regulating emotions, particularly emotions that play a role in survival[7], such as aggression, fear, and anxiety. As such, the limbic system plays a prominent role in behavior. For example, if your limbic system has been alerted to danger (whether real or imagined), you’ll feel anxiety and fear. This causes you to take action to protect yourself from whatever danger is present.

What sorts of disorders are associated with the limbic system?
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Disorders that are associated with the limbic system include:

  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Food Sensitivities
  • Chronic Pain
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Electric Hypersensitivity Syndrome
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Post-Viral Fatigue
  • Chronic Post COVID-19 Syndrome (Long Haul COVID)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)
  • Chronic Lyme Disease
  • Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)

How do you calm the limbic system?
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re-origin® teaches you to calm the overactive threat response in the limbic system using self-directed neuroplasticity. The techniques we teach you through our program are based on decades of research and development. The objective is to put an end to your suffering once and for all.

Using repetition, strong emotions, language, imagery, and other specific neurocognitive exercises, you learn how to communicate a message of safety to your limbic system, which brings it back to a state of balance.

What is the limbic system responsible for?
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The limbic system is involved in our behavioral and emotional responses, particularly those related to survival. These behaviors include feeding, reproduction, caring for offspring, and fight or flight responses.

What does your amygdala control?
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The amygdala is a small, almond-shaped structure in the limbic system that drives the fight or flight response. The amygdala plays a vital role[8] in how humans assess and respond to environmental threats and challenges. The system evaluates the emotional importance of sensory information and stimulates an appropriate response.

What are the structures that make up the limbic system?
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The brain structures that constitute the limbic system[9] include the cingulate gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, dentate gyrus, hippocampus, subicular complex, amygdala, septal area, and hypothalamus.