In part one, I wrote about what it was like with a primitive brain and its essential function. If you had not read it yet, you could access it HERE.
In this post, I want to jump forward about a few thousand years, maybe a million, to where we are today. Here is a chart to help explain what transpired up to the development of the Neo-cortex.
The Neo-cortex brain area is responsible for our personality, judging, reasoning, imagination, planning, and making decisions, which are just a few. The prefrontal cortex is also very interconnective and has access to other brain parts, including the primitive function.
What we also know is that there is this right brain, left brain thing going on. It appears that each side is responsible for specific functions. The diagram below illustrates this.
As part of our development and our need to stay safe, we now have extra tools to help with the fight-flight-freeze primitive function. These include recognizing patterns, imagination (future thinking), recall (past thought), meaning-making, logical, analytical thinking, and intuition.
This mixed bag of tricks has excellent power in keeping us safe. As you might guess, though, a great power does not come with guaranteed success, no matter what the commercials are saying. If it were perfect, we should all be doing better and not getting into so much trouble, pain and discomfort.
The expected benefits of these survival functions.
Recall/Imagination: How would you like to have lived in a groundhog movie, where you started each day with a blank slate but didn’t realize this. Each day you would casually walk around your world until you encountered something. Because you don’t have higher functions in your underdeveloped brain, you are not too sure if what you see is dangerous, food, or your next mate. Since nothing stuck from the previous days, it is your best guess at this point until we finally developed a memory bank.
The power of recall or memory is that you can store information dangerous information. Teamed up with pattern recognition, you now can recognize potential danger. If something like a rope looks like a snake you jump, because in the past, you encountered a snake, had an adverse reaction to it, and acted accordingly at that moment. Your memory stored you will have a similar reaction t for future use if you came across a snake again. Whether the threats are real or not, if something looks familiar to that snake (or anything else that you thought a danger). That is natural.
Here lies a problem for us. The brain can not tell if something is real or not. Say what?
Here is a picture of a lemon.
If you have seen a lemon before, you know how sour lemons are, and that sourness causes your saliva glands to work overtime to help wash that sourness away. If you looked and just read this, notice how much more fluid is in your mouth. It will go away as soon as you stop eating or thinking about lemons.
See, you just learned something significant about your mind. It can steer you wrong.
You might have also noticed that imagination (right brain) also played a role. With the ability to imagine a future and the primary goal of keeping us safe, we also can plan in case we encounter danger. This ability is advantageous when we hit our favorite watering hole and recall a threat waiting for us last week. We can be more prepared by imagining a scenario, remembering what happened last time, and putting some logical steps to avoid the danger or fight the threat hoping that our new plan will work. The more successful we are with these plans and imagined futures (stored in memory), then we tend to stick to them. Eventually, these will form the basis of a belief system to which we will then act according.
Since it appears to work most of the time, we will justify it as accurate till it fails, at which point we either stick to its reasoning that it was only a one-off or make something new up and change the plan for the future.
Here is a little exercise until the next post, probably in a week. Look at the list of right and left brain functions and ask yourself the good and bad results when using the particular process.
Also, just for its fun, notice how much thinking you devote to recall (past) and imagination (future). What it will indicate is how much you spend in the only moment that is real, now.
Until next time, lots of love,
PS: Please share your results and comments. Love to hear from you.