Getting Brainy

Let’s look closer at the three-part model for the brain that is useful for understanding some core aspects of what humans are.

The Brainstem “Reptile” (R-Complex) Hindbrain

The brainstem can be considered the foundation and hence the oldest and lowest part of the brain. The brainstem and cerebellum are responsible for physical activity, motor skills, instinct, and the fight or flight survival mechanism.

In a dangerous situation a decision needs to be made between staying and fighting or fleeing to survive. The heart will pump blood towards the areas of the body that require it. Blood will be pumped away from the vital organs of the torso and brain because a fight or flight response requires blood to be sent to the areas of priority, which are the extremities that will be doing the running or fighting.

When we are trying to survive we aren’t going to be thinking about deep higher order conceptual ideas, nor do we need to be doing much digestion or intensive functions of other organs. Our richly oxygenated blood will be sent to our muscles, such as the arms to be yielded as weapons if we have decided to stay and fight, or to the leg muscles for us to be able to flee the situation.

This functionality is effective for fending off an attacker. However, in our modern society we are not in many dangerous situations where we physically need to make a decision to fight or flee. Yet this unconscious mechanism is activated frequently because we are often engaged in stressful activities.

This beneficial survival technique has become a detriment in modern society because we engage and remain in this modality of consciousness for a large portion of the time. Our lifestyle is hectic and busy, from one thing to the next without having much time in between the various activities we occupy our lives with: a job, children, traffic, other people, and other daily activities. Always being busy and having all of our time occupied can also easily cause stress.

This standard of a “full-schedule” way of living traps a person in a survival modality. There is frequent worry and stress creating bio-chemical releases throughout the body. This stress activates a process to relieve it, to fight and deal with the situation, of flee and leave it. Except, the standard ability to fight or flee from the situation presented is not available. We can’t fist fight or run from a task at our jobs, or event in our personal lives. This electro-chemical effects on our physiology causes changes to other structures of the brain when blood is being pumped away due to a stressful life. Our ability to think clearly and calmly is often affected.

The Limbic “Paleomammalian” Midbrain

The midbrain is the middle-brain that is responsible for the chemical interactions through which we experience a range of emotions as feelings. This is also the area responsible for behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and smell. Mammals display physiological reactions of emotional states (like sadness, crying, happiness) that reptiles do not show. Reptiles are more associated with instinctual and self-preservation modalities of behavior. Mammals are warm blooded while reptiles are cold blooded. This self-oriented characteristic is where we get the symbolism of being a “cold blooded” person.

The midbrain is in the middle between the hindbrain and forebrain, and therefore also connects to parts of each, acting as a bridge in many cases as well. As previously mentioned, there are parts of these 3 aspects of the brain in most animals with some varying degrees of commonality in consciousness expression.

Up to this point, these brain-processes that affect our behavior are mainly unconscious-subconscious responses and stimuli that drive and motivate us to act. These two lower consciousness aspects of our brain are very powerful because we are unaware and unconscious of their influence for the most part. However, the third part of the brain holds the most potential power of higher order thinking and higher conscious awareness to gain control and direct the lower consciousness qualities to some degree.

The Neocortex “Neomammalian” Forebrain

The Neocortex is the most developed part of the brain containing the most neural activity and manages higher order thought processes. The cerebrum is bilaterally symmetrical being divided into the left and right cerebral hemispheres.

The left brain is symbolic of the “masculine” and is related to the thought functionality of logic, analysis, science, mathematics, language and the use of words. The right brain relates to the “feminine” qualities of emotional thought, intuition, creativity, art, music and all other forms of creative expression. All of these qualities are part of each human regardless of gender, but some qualities can be more pronounced or stronger in one gender compared to the other. The qualities also see neural activity in both parts of the brain.

Left and Right Brain

This triune model of the brain is setup as a hierarchy of three different aspects into one, and information is processed in a certain way. If the functionality between these layers is operating correctly the there is greater potential to grow our capacities and capabilities of consciousness. Proper functionality means the cerebral hemispheres are cooperating together, balanced, unified, harmonious, coherent and integrated. This can be demonstrated through EEG coherence where neural and synaptic activity is distributed throughout both hemispheres fairly equally.

The cerebral cortex forebrain is the executive command center of the whole brain, responsible for our reasoning capabilities to determine how we use our actions in harmony with our thoughts and emotions. Having a balanced neocortex without one side dominating over the other promotes higher-order conceptual thinking and reasonable behavior which is governed through our ability to recognize patterns and derive meaning.

The neocortex is the most advanced “computer” that exists. The midbrain that governs emotions sends data upwards to the reasoning-processing center of the brain, to both the logical-analytical “masculine” left-brain and creative-intuitive “feminine” right-brain. Then signals are sent down to the motor centers of the brain complex, referred to as the “reptile” brain, in order for our actions and behavior to be based on higher order reasoning and not automated responses based on instinct and survival alone.

Failure to understand how we function places us in a position where we are susceptible to manipulation. Understanding the basic functionality of the brain brings us closer to becoming beings that govern ourselves and are less subject to the influence of those attempting to commandeer our mind and behavior.

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