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Our Triune Brain And Its Evolutionary Conclusion

Our brain is arguably the most complex system known to us. Known but hardly understood, it is responsible for keeping the trillions of cells in our body working properly as a collective harmonious whole. It gives rise to all that we think, feel, sense, imagine and wonder about. And whereas before we once thought that it slowly deteriorates throughout our lives, we now know that if worked properly it will not only continue to create more nerves cells, but it can be reshaped like plastic, developing according to how it is used.

In fact the fantastically complex brain that we currently have is a response to our successive needs arising out of our evolutionary journey. Commonly referred to as our Triune Brain*, it can be understood as comprising three main parts: The R Complex (or reptilian brain), The Mammalian brain, and the Neo Cortex.

 The R Complex 

The R Complex commonly known as our reptilian brain is the oldest of our 'three brains in one’ and its only concern is for survival. Heart rate, respiration and elimination are all functions governed by our R Complex, as are: fight, flight, fear, reproduction and dominance. Resistant to change, it is the part of our brain that makes it hard for us to break habits once established.

The Limbic System

The Limbic system is a later addition to our reptilian brain and is the part responsible for hormones, memories and emotions. It is the part of our brain that enables us to be socially bonded to others, but for complex emotions such as love, it requires a two-way interaction with the third and newest part of our brain, our Neo Cortex.

The Neo Cortex 

Our Neo Cortex (or Cerebral Cortex) comprises five sixths of our total brain despite that in evolutionary terms it is a relatively new addition. We know very little about this part of our brain except that it: processes sensory information, makes language possible, gives rise to abstract thought, creativity, imagination, insight, planning and resourcefulness. It allows us to be logical, to see into the future and to plan for an intended outcome. And as the pleasure, and exhilaration centre of our peak experiences it is the gateway to heightened levels of awareness.

Although described as three brains in one, the triune brain operates as one, its sum being an interconnected, interacting series of interdependent parts. However its future, the trajectory of our developmental potential, undoubtedly lies beyond the gateway of its evolutionary frontier – somewhere within the synaptic world of our neo cortex.

* NB The Triune Brain is a model of the brain developed by Paul MacLean, the former director of the Laboratory of the Brain and Behaviour at the United States National Institute of Mental Health.

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May All Beings Know:  True Love, True Peace, True Happiness