“In the beginning” (ii) (Continued from previous blog).

Following on from my last blog we no cone to the second or next narrowing slice; (i.e. as we ascend our pyramid). This represents the palaeo- (old) mammalian brain, which incorporates the limbic* system. Herein is controlled the evolvement of social needs, i.e. basic association and interaction learning, mutual bonding and learned interdependence, together with the earliest awakenings of family life and the beginning of hierarchical structure etc. These also took millions of years to evolve and progress, motivated by the continuing thread of need and desire to survive and prosper. Once again, there is much more that we can and will add about this social interdependence etc., but for the moment, we shall, in our imagination, simply colour this slice, brown.

The third and next slice up of our pyramid, represents the earliest evolving manifestations of the neo-cortex and new brain (and to which I will refer in the next paragraph). This covers that period of time in the evolving status of living creatures, when they became increasingly overtly aware of a drive toward change where necessary, via adaptation, as consciousness and the capacity to apply an overall order (logical reasoning) further evolved. There are countless examples of such adaptation in pursuit of survival and advancement, which could be given. One might be the burgeoning brain’s inbuilt health maintenance system, as for instance, when we develop a fever. (Raised body temperature tends to kill off micro-organisms that can cause disease and is part of a brain-initiated reaction in the fight against infection). Another is to be perceived in a sneeze or a shiver (again, part of the brain’s capacity to maintain inner stability). A further example is evident when we shed tears (research shows that emotional tears enable the body to rid itself of toxic substances in the interests of physical health and emotional balance). This third slice then, we might colour blue.

Finally, as we approach the point or apex of the pyramid (and in itself, albeit a small but in itself, complete pyramid) the brain has here evolved to the point of becoming fully human, possessing a capacity for association and abstract thinking and thus to consciously process, interpret and construct its very own model of the world. This area assumes responsibility for fine-tuning and for the integration all the functions referred to above. For us in this present age and generation, it has been and continues to be the world as before, but also one, which is increasingly enhanced (and sometimes threatened) by scientific, technological, electronic and nuclear discovery, revolution and future prediction. This top slice of the pyramid then, represents the most personal and idiosyncratic part of you and me, as the brain processes, interprets, constructs and defines in a wholly unique and individual way, your/my very own individual and unique model of the world. In keeping with the traditional colour for a mountain peak, we might decide to colour it white. (C)SB..

  • From the Latin “limbus” meaning “border” since it borders and surrounds the corpus collosum  is sometimes referred to as the visceral brain because it is the region which coordinates sensory data with  bodily needs and with other requirements of the viscera. The limbic brain is an area (sometimes referred to as the “mammalian brain” see earlier blog) containing the thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala and hippocampus. (See future appropriate footnotes explaining the use of these terms). It is also engaged in the  control of recurrent internal processes, homeostatic mechanisms, body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate.
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