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Human Brain and its “sub-brains”
Posted by:   |  Nov 05, 2013

In my previous blogs regarding the brain, I wrote that the human brain includes three brains. The three brains within our skull are: the lizard brain, the mammalian brain and the neo-cortex brain. This neo-cortex is functionally semi-independent from the lizard and mammalian brains. Language and logic is reside in the neo-cortex, while emotions and the physical energy is reside separately within the mammalian and lizard brains.

triune-brain

That is why our experience is so complex and even confusing. In our brain, we have multiple “software programs” that have different purpose and goals in mind. The lizard and the mammalian brains are running their emotion programs while the human brain is running its thinking programs. Each of our brains is pursuing different kinds of purpose and satisfaction. This for example explain, why we want to eat ice-cream or French fries, while we want to have a diet and look good. This is also explain why we can cheat on someone we love or hurt someone we care for.

The lizard brain is driven to fulfill its desire immediately. The mammalian brain is moved to love and loyalty. The human brain is driven by logic, intellect, science and ethics and abstract ideas to include romance, art, etc.. Each of “sub-brain” is physically located in different part of the human brain, while each “sub-brain” has little concern about the other “sub-brains.”

As we move from the neo-cortex to the mammalian brain and the lizard brain, we also move back in time to more primitive brains. Naturally, the more primitive is the brain, the less sophisticated it is and yet at the same time is very focused and efficient to serve its goal. This is why the older brains are very much focused and “narrow minded” and clearly very powerful and “impulsive.” So, for example, while the neo-cortex with it intellectual ability can think about the global peace initiatives, stars in the universe, art, music, philosophy and others, the old brains are focused on the “here and now” with the purpose of meeting their immediate need and desire.

Also, each sub-brain has independent memory systems, with different characteristics. The new human brain has intellectual memory where we remember facts and numbers. At the same time, the mammalian brain has an emotion-based memory. It is slower to learn but retains memories longer, probably never forgets the experiences. As we age, the neo-cortical memory degrades and we have senior moments. This doesn’t happen to the limbic brain as its retain its memory.

Can we better integrate our three brains? Meditation integrates the brains and rewires and harmonizes them. It allows us to develop a greater awareness and see with a better clarity the need of each brain, see the bigger picture (that include the unity of the sub-brains) and attend their needs. While meditating, we have the capacity to create physical changes in the connections and pathways in our brain (even at adult age). The neuroplasticity of the brain allows for creation of new connections. To put it very simply, whatever your brain does the most, it commits the most resources to. Hebb’s “law” states that neurons that fire together, wire together. So, if for example, you practice playing the organ, you increase the density and connections in the brain areas controlling fine motor control of both hands. The research being done in neuroscience and brain-imaging labs has been showing that the practice of mindfulness meditation seems to change the size and activity in brain regions. Meditation enables human to achieve greater brain balance and harmony and improve brain functioning and performance as well as decision making.

Please visit author, Moshe Ratson at his google+ Profile:+Moshe Ratson



Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in New York City
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