The Being & Doing Organ: How Your Brain Processes Information in Creating Thought, Feeling & Action.
Updated: Mar 18, 2020
How are you "BEING" Today?
This blog aims to briefly;
Introduce and explain the functions of the 3 main areas of the brain.
What happens within these parts in connecting your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
How the brain senses and perceives information.
The 3 Parts of the Human Brain
The brain’s survival relies on a continuous stream of information from both the body and the environment. Too little or too much information determines the persons’ feeling, physiology, facial expression and behaviour at a given time.
The oldest part of the brain (also known as the primitive brain, reptilian brain, or lizard brain) includes the brain stem, the basal ganglia, and the midbrain. This is the part of the brain that human beings share with other mammals.
The hindbrain connects to the Cerebellum in coordinating and controlling the body movement. The hindbrain and the midbrain forms the “root” of the brain, and they are involved in the unconscious and automatic processes required for human survival.
The Midbrain also is known as the “Emotional Centre” or “Limbic System.” Neuroscientists have shown that this complicated mid part of the brain region (limbic system) fills our thoughts with different emotions. We feel emotions in the brain, and various brain centres support mixed feelings.
The amygdala sits as part of the limbic system act as an "alarm centre," thus preparing the body for a fight or flight response if it creates the feeling of fear and anger. The "Fight or Flight" mode is part of humans' survival instincts shaped by millennia of evolution. The neurotransmitters and hormones in our body cause automatic bodily responses to different emotions.
Scientists have branched the typical unconscious responses (Automatic Nervous System) into two sets called:
"Fight or flight" Responses that prepare the body for a reaction in the face of danger (Sympathetic Nervous Response).
"Rest and Digest" Responses are what happens to the body when it produces a calm and relaxed feeling in the mind, using energy saved up for digesting food. It is when the body relaxes and enjoys the pleasure when people are not facing threatening or dangerous situations (Parasympathetic Nervous Response).
The brain, as the control centre of the nervous system, releases appropriate neuro-chemicals based on information sent in response to a particular stimulus. It works with other organs in the body, each playing a specific role in preparing a person to flee or fight in response to a perceived threat to survival. It works in harmony with the physiological reaction and emotional facial expression displayed.
The "Stress Hormone"
The unpleasant feeling of the chemical release of cortisol prepares the body for a fight or flight response. It has a powerful impact on the higher functioning part of the brain (hence, the emotional part of the brain becomes instinctive and quickly takes over the rational thinking brain). The release of the chemicals’ response produced by epinephrine or adrenalin makes the mind hold on to emotive memories that might have triggered it. The emotional centre of the brain is highly in use, focusing on the perceived threat while shutting down the rational thinking part of the mind.
Other areas of the Limbic System include
Thalamus: This is the primary "Hub" for receiving sensory information to and from the thinking brain (besides the sense of smell). It helps keep us awake, fall asleep, and gives us our sense of awareness.
Hypothalamus: This helps regulate body condition. It produces hormones that control body temperature, sleep, and moods, as well as sexual responses. It secretes chemicals that create emotions of pleasure and misery.
Hippocampus: This links to our memory, moods, and self-control. It stores short-term memories (such as learning) and consolidates them into long-term memories.
The forebrain, also known as “Rational brain,” “The prefrontal cortex,” or "Executive Functions," is located in the Cerebral Cortex (Neocortex). It is unique to humans as it controls higher functions such as conscious decision making, emotions and personality not commonly seen in other species of animals. It is responsible for handling complex skills and complicated thoughts (meanings we attach to things).
The "Feeling-Thinking" Connection: How The Brain Senses and Perceives Information
What the human senses (sight, touch, taste, hear, smell) is collected in the midbrain (limbic system). If it is not an immediate pain (boiling pot) threat, or pleasure (chocolate), the information collected by the sense organs about the world around us (stimuli) is sent to the thinking brain for processing. The thinking brain will then interpret (our thought) and categorise (threat or pleasure) the information to give us our perception.
The meaning the information receives returns to the midbrain (limbic system), creating our feeling (pleasant or unpleasant).
The feeling created will determine the response to the stimulus. Mostly, a pleasant emotion will move you towards the thing or event (approach). With the unpleasant feeling, most people will avoid the situation or object (avoidance).
Think Mind & Emotional Nurturing
Human behaviour emerges from the dynamic interactions between the three parts of the brain, specifically at areas with a high degree of connectivity (the midbrain or the hub). The three areas are interconnected and must work in harmony for the human to feel motivated, energized, and balanced. However, this is not always the case. The higher part of the brain relies on some information from the environment, body, and other parts of the brain.
Information that goes through the consciously controlled part of the brain (Thinking Brain) has several possible outcomes. As a result, you have a choice on what thought to focus on in creating your feeling and action.
The emotional brain nurtures the thinking brain, which shows the strong connection between our thoughts and feelings in response to our actions, creating our results. The thinking mind and the emotional mind both form the two parts of the mysterious, marvellous human mind.
Do you want to learn to understand yourself in managing your mind and emotions?
David, A. (2019) The Secret Life of the Brain: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Mind
McDowell, P. E. (2015) Thinking about Thinking: Cognition, Science, and Psychotherapy
Spilsbury, R (2013) Emotions From Birth to Old Age (Your Body for Life)