Station Life column: Chattering monkeys in a busy, complex brain

Raelene HallMidwest Times
Memory loss, conceptual computer artwork. Jigsaw puzzle of the human brain.
Camera IconMemory loss, conceptual computer artwork. Jigsaw puzzle of the human brain. Credit: Getty Images/Science Photo Libra

 I’ve been doing some study on personal development — or as the trendy people would say “in that space”.

Part of it has involved learning more about parts of the brain and the subconscious brain. I nearly wrote “unconscious brain”, which at times, would possibly be more apt.

I’m finding it fascinating, and one of the facts I have learned is that our brain is actually made up of three parts. Researching it more, I found out there are a few different names for these parts – the ones used in the material I was reading and listening to were the reptilian, mammalian and cerebral cortex.

The reptilian part of the brain retains a lot of its behaviour from the cave days and hunting for food.

It has that flight-or-fight response, which is obviously what kicks in when I see a snake and find myself running at Olympic speed, but my feet actually aren’t on the ground.

It’s also pretty handy as basically it controls the functions that keep us alive, and does it automatically.

Emotions are the domain of the mammalian part of the brain, which also controls complex behaviours and thoughts. I’ve learned it’s this part of the brain that is responsible for the tree-load of monkeys that spend all their time chattering in my head and driving me crazy.

For us women, it’s the beast we can blame hormones and hot flushes on. The “thinking brain” or the neocortex is found, for example, in primates and humans. It allows us to, as the name would suggest, think, plan, reason and use logic. This is also where your conscious and subconscious mind sit.

The parts can even get into arguments with each other. Your neocortex is saying “I’m going to jump off that bridge on the end of an elastic band” but your reptilian brain says “you bloody idiot. You can’t do that. It isn’t safe and my job is to keep you safe”. No wonder we get headaches at times, with them niggling at each other all the time.

The reptilian brain also doesn’t like change. It’s a bit of a stick-in- the-mud, so mine must go haywire when I decide I’m going to rearrange the office for the 50th time.

Perhaps it’s time to stop beating up on my brain and accept it is actually pretty damn cool.

Please note, this is all just my interpretation, and not guaranteed to be scientifically correct.

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