Anatomy of the Human Brain: Part 3
Many shudder to think that we may have the brain of a reptile. It’s what we came in with, which isn’t really that bad since it performs functions the other sections of the brain don’t. The disheartening thing is that so many of us seldom get out of that part and into the higher forms of brain function.
The reptilian section of the brain is basically the same in humans as has been for millions of years in reptiles, we can only assume that many of the traits of reptiles will be exhibited in human behavior. Social hierarchy is a reptilian brain function, so is maintaining the status quo, the pecking order, bureaucracy and follow the leader.
Maybe it’s not a problem with the brain section. Genetics is a catch all when all else fails: maybe we just suffer from some basic flaws of logic.
Our favored brain section determines most decisions.
The decisions we make determine the lives we lead.
You’ll be glad to know that we’ve evolved far enough to make it to the neo-cortex, intellectual, creative brain. Sometimes when we’re busy blowing each other up and acting as if we have no brain at all, it makes one stop and wonder whether we really have evolved from the lower reptilian brain and made the jump mentally, or if it’s only been a physical manifestation.
The neo-cortex brain is the most recent to develop. Humans are the only species to have this part of the total brain package. This area is where all intellectual, intuitive, conceptual and reasoning begins. We still rely on the lower brain forms for our connection with the outer environment, expressions, relationships, emotions, social behaviors and cognitive structuring. If we dwell in, or are too dependent on the intellectual aspects of the brain, it’s possible to lose all social skills. This is also true if we spend too much time in the left hemisphere of the brain.
The neo-cortex contains the vast majority of the brains 100 billion neurons, although it’s estimated that only 3 to 10% are actually developed. Development of this portion of the brain begins at approximately age 4.
Myelination, bridging with fatty substance covered neurons, between the right and left hemispheres doesn’t occur until sometime between the ages of 9 and 12. The neo-cortex is capable of creating new modes of thinking and responding to internal and external generated ideas. The areas of association are designed for, and capable of, receiving information from visual, auditory and kinesthetic (through movement and muscles, etc.) sources. This portion of the brain makes receiving and processing information from all the inner and outer areas and then integrating that with the information received from the various association areas possible. This creates the feasibility for coordination of thought at a higher level. The non-specific association areas are 8 layers thick and made up of non-myelinated neurons. Non-myelination makes it easier for them to make new connections.
Rational survival planning, unknown in the lower brain forms, came into being with the neo-cortex. This made it possible for humans to survive in extremely adverse climates and under circumstances where mammals and reptiles, neither environmentally adapted nor possessing this section of brain, would perish.
Sensory input involved with this area of the brain is mainly concerned with visual and auditory sources that originate outside of the body. When we look at the overall specialization period of development for this area of the brain we generally find that: those who spend an excessive amount of their time in the logic section of the brain during the specialization development period will usually, later in life, consider the body as only something necessary to carry the brain around.
Those who spend an inordinate amount in the more physical parts of the brain will generally find themselves more academically challenged if they’re involved with athletic scholarships. If between the ages of 4 and 16, this includes the growth spurt plateaus we briefly looked at previously, a child can develop both hemispheres of the brain through involvement in logical and physical activities. By doing that they will have the abilities for being more rounded later in life, logically, physically and socially.
The neo-cortex posses the mode for rational thinking, intelligent and abstract thought, the capabilities for innovation and high level creativity and is important in long-term memory storage. This is the section that loves challenges, change and possibilities.
Learning capabilities connected with this area are the ability to synthesize many different pieces of information, a high level of reasoning and wisdom, not sensory bound, having the capacity for pattern recognition and being able to think things through to an end that is beneficial for all concerned.
There is a portion of the brain that holds the evolutionary potential for the human species. The frontal lobes, a subdivision of the neo-cortex, are continuing to develop and are sometimes referred to as the “angel brain.” This area deals with the ability to control ones own behavior, is the center for compassion and altruism, reverence for all life, and the ability to forgo instant gratification.
It’s apparent that everyone’s in different stages of evolutionary brain development. Some prefer to spend their time in the lower areas, some in the higher and some in between. No one can claim complete development in the frontal lobes.
Just think, in a few years we can celebrate the 100th anniversary of the “War to end all wars.”
Tags: Human Brain , Anatomy , Social Behavior , Intuition , Intellect
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