Throughout history, humans have been connected through group experience: hunting together, building together, parenting together. We desire to be connected so strongly, we’ve developed a brain system wired for connection and accounting for the majority of our decision making. Entrepreneurs need to tap into this primordial sense of belonging to create a product or a service that imbues limbic resonance.
Companies need to connect with the customer. They need to elicit that primal sense of belonging and move beyond simplistic neocortical cerebral consumerism. They need to spark that limbic resonance by triggering those dopamine circuit-promoted feelings of empathic harmony and maybe even those norepinephrine circuit-originated emotional states of fear, anxiety and anger.
So just exactly how are these feelings felt?
The limbic system supports a variety of functions including emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and smell (the close proximity of the latter two is why we deeply associate scents with saudades). Our emotional life is largely housed in the limbic system, and this house itself is built on the foundation of the various psycho-social experiences we encounter throughout our lives, in more simple terms—the formation of our memories.
Anatomically speaking, the limbic system or paleomammalian cortex, is a set of brain structures located on the edge of both sides of the thalamus (the part of our brain which receives and processes sensory and motor input signals), immediately beneath the medial temporal lobe of the cerebrum primarily in the mesencephalon. Its structure consists of the amygdaloid nuclear complex (the amygdala is principally associated with our ability to display empathy and elicit fear), mammillary bodies (important for sensory memory), stria medullaris, central gray and dorsal and ventral nuclei of Gudden (helpful for spatial navigation and orientation). This processed information is often relayed to a collection of structures from the telencephalon, diencephalon, and mesencephalon, including the prefrontal cortex (the CEO of the brain), cingulate gyrus, limbic thalamus, hippocampus (our brain’s main memory storage space) including the parahippocampal gyrus and subiculum, nucleus accumbens (limbic striatum), anterior hypothalamus, ventral tegmental area and midbrain raphe nuclei, habenular commissure, the entorhinal cortex and olfactory bulbs (used for smell).
The concept of Limbic Resonance was affectionately advanced in the book A General Theory of Love (2000), and is one of three interrelated concepts central to the book’s premise: that our brain chemistry and nervous systems are measurably affected by those closest to us (limbic resonance); that our systems synchronize with one another in a way that has profound implications for personality and lifelong emotional health (limbic regulation); and that these set patterns can be modified through therapeutic practice (limbic revision).
In other words, Limbic Resonance refers to our capacity for empathy and non-verbal connection that is present in most humans, and that forms the basis of our social connections. This is where social-minded founders need to insert their unique selling proposition if their business is to thrive virally via this emotional contagion. Customers must be considered as a community; a superorganism that is encouraged to feel.