The hypothalamus is a Limbic Brain structure situated below the thalamus (more to come). Functions of the hypothalamus include the regulation of body temperature, and the regulation of some autonomic activities. The hypothalamus is crucially important because it is involved with some of our most basic instinctual functions, or what some call the 4 F’s; i. e. food, fear, fun, and fuck. Due to these four functions the hypothalamus has been called the hedonistic hot spot of our brain, or the brain’s reward and pleasure center. I maintain that the hypothalamus is also involved in our four basal motivational needs for security-safety, worth, empowerment, and enjoyment (review previous posts).
The amygdala is a small almond shaped structure within the Limbic Brain (the name comes from the shape). The amygdala’s function is to emotionally record incoming stimuli. This function starts around three months after conception. Up until the age of five, children are receiving pure emotion without any cognitive interpretation of those emotions. Another way of saying this is without cognitive input, up to the age of five, emotions and feelings are similar. The downside of this means that up to the age of five most incoming sensorial information is unfiltered without conscious awareness or comprehension. This unfiltered incoming stimuli makes for a lack of any cognitive understanding of what has taken place, and ends up with memories that are only emotional. For children who have been abused before the age of five, these emotional memories can be devastating (more to come).
The Limbic Brain is the Mammalian Brain, and is estimated to be about 150 million years old. It is the intermediate brain (between Reptilian and Neocortex). The Limbic Brain is subcortical —> it sits below cortical neuronal structures. It takes instinctual and survival input from the Reptilian Brain and further develops it by being defensive, vigilant and protective. Our Limbic Brain is on-guard to engage incoming stimuli by reactions of fight or flight. It doesn’t operate in linear time, but instead its reactions to input are nonlinear because of its emotionality; i. e. emotions can rapidly switch. The Limbic Brain is an emotional structure and emotions change swiftly coming from many directions at any time. Since the Limbic Brain concerns our emotions, Nature has it play a dominant role for us —-> heart before head. Emotions are a primary alerting survival tool coming through a quantum/electrical/neurochemical system. The word limbic means border with the name coming from the ring that formed around the corpus callosum. Limbic structures are deep within the two cerebral hemispheres. Pierre Paul Broca (1878) called the Limbic system “le grand lobe limbique” because it wasn’t part of the Reptilian system. The human Mammalian Brain shares similar characteristics with all mammals because all mammals have some form of the key emotional responses of anger, fear, sadness, jealousy, and enjoyment. However, unlike other mammals who “feel” the emotions in pure form, with our Neocortex we often obsess, distort, exaggerate, and make assumptions about our emotions (more to come). We interpret emotions …
The Reptilian Brain has the most primitive structures of the human brain, is sometimes called the lizard brain, and is 250-300 million years old. It is our oldest brain, purely physical, and basically sits on top the spinal cord. The Reptilian Brain is sub-limbic: i. e. it is positioned below mammalian neuronal structures. It involves neuronal structures on the brain stem: i. e. medulla, pons, some old basil nuclei, and the mesencephalon. It has the cerebrum that is involved with movement. The Reptilian Brain doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is not real and it is non-emotional. It is rigid and obsessive-compulsive. It is pre-social, and as such doesn’t have a social component. That is, in the need for survival the Reptilian Brain became non-social and instinctively reactive and aggressive. The key functions of the Reptilian Brian are: 1.) receives stimuli – it is the first responder defending against incoming stimuli. The Reptilian Brain has an instinctive spontaneous reaction to imminent danger to insure survival. It acts/re-acts at a pure instinctual level. The human basal need for safety/survival is most likely connected to this early Reptilian survival “fight-flight” reaction. In the Theory of Balanceology, I indicate how safety/survival is a basal key human motivational need —> actually a need for all living things, and 2.) regulates basic life processes – the Reptilian Brain is involved in regulation of reflexes, heart rate, respiration, metabolism, breathing, and sleeping. It includes functioning to regulate blinking, physical balance, and bodily movement.
Recapitulation – For me, the Triune Brain demonstrates the process of how ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. That is, the evolutionary development of a person (ontogeny) recapitulates (repeats) the evolution of the species (ontogeny). I theorize the process of brain anatomical development, transition, and transformation from simple reactive functioning to complex conscious awareness is a byproduct of millions of years of brain evolution. Our brain is an emergent brain because it ever so slowly evolutionarily emerges from Reptilian, to Limbic, to Neocortex. I suggest the evolutionary development of our brain can be vaguely compared to the structure of a house with the Reptilian Brain being the basement floor, the Limbic Brain the first floor, and the Neocortex the second floor. In brain biogenesis we evolve from fish brain at the top of the spinal cord, and then onto ever increasingly complex Reptilian, Mammalian, and Neocortex brain structures that are built on the spinal cord. Each of us undergoes this evolutionary recapitulation process of increasing brain cerebralization. Each of our brains re-enacts the evolutionary movement of Reptilian, Mammalian, and Neocortical progression. For me, our brain a transgenerational brain and the forces that shaped our developmental brain from ages long ago continue to mold our modern brain, our behaviors, our emotions, our thoughts, and the ways we function. I agree with Robert Wright that, “the basic emanations of natural selection are refracted from the older, the inner parts of our brain all the way to its freshest tissue. Indeed, the freshest tissue would never have appeared if it …
Triune Brain (trifecta brain) was proposed by Paul MacLean (1990). The Triune Brain proposal is a 3-part trichotomy manner of viewing and understanding our brain. There are certain neurological researchers who reject MacLean’s Model. They report that MRI studies indicate the totality of the brain interactions, and because of this unity the brain should not be described in sections. However, I point out that all theories and models have flaws including the trifecta brain. I do understand and agree with the huge interdependency and interplay that is involved within in our brain. At the same time, I support that the Triune Model’s evolutionary layering and specialization is beneficial in studying and describing our brain. The Triune Brain Model is really an evolutionary adaptation model (I argue a recapitulation model – more to come) based on three stages of brain evolution. I suggest the Triune Brain can be viewed as: 1.) the human brain is divided into 3 layers, or 2.) there actually exists 3 separate brains that interact. However viewed, the three sections do represent an evolutionary biological stratification pattern of brain formation. George Gurdijieff maintained that humans are 3-brain-beings, in the sense of having body-mind-emotions (1950). MacLean’s Theory has been criticized for being too simplistic. I argue that simplistic or not, it does offer a plausible manner to study brain evolution, brain structures, brain functions, and how the various brain physiological layers overlap and interact.
Neurotransmitters are those chemical elements of our brain. The human brain is incredibly capable of having 100,000 chemical transmissions a second. Neurochemicals influence thoughts, emotions, moods, and behaviors. Around 50 neurotransmitters have been identified with the more influential one’s being: 1.) serotonin helps with positive mood and it is a mood stabilizer. The body manufactures serotonin with help of the amino acid tryptophan. Serotonin helps with sleep, calmness, and some alleviation of the sadness emotion, 2.) endorphin is a pain relieving neurotransmitter. It is similar to morphine, but actually can be 3 times more powerful. Endorphin can produce euphoria. Endorphins can release sex hormones. One possible way to release endorphin is by extreme exercise (some claim to have a “runner’s high”), and 3.) dopamine is Nature’s pleasure neurotransmitter and it is Nature’s way to motivate behavior. Dopamine is a monoamine neurotransmitter essential for brain functioning. It is found by the decarboxylation of dopa —> an amino acid found in the liver. In later posts, I will present dopamine in the discussion of drug addiction, tolerance, and dependency.