03 January 2010

The Three Brains of Homo Sapiens

...important for cultural influencers and change agents to know...and taking tips from marketers.

Excerpt from DoshDosh, 12 November 2009

'...The trium brain model is a theory developed by Paul MacLean in the 1960s to explain how the human brain has evolved. This simplified understanding of the brain became an influential paradigm amongst psychologists and some neuroscientists. As the name suggests, we don’t have one brain but three. These are all layered on top of each other and were developed during different stages of evolution. They are as follows:
  1. The old brain. Also known as ‘R-complex’ or reptilian brain. The old brain is primarily concerned with your survival. It scans the environments for threats and benefits. It controls instinctual survival behavior and is also in charge of autonomic functions such as heart beats, digestion, movement and breathing.

  2. The mid brain. Also known as the Limbic System or mammalian brain. The primary seat of emotions, memories and attention. This is where your emotions are produced and where positive or negative feelings arise. The mid brain includes the amygdala, which is involved in connecting events with emotion and the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory recall and converting information into memories.

  3. The new brain. Also known as the neocortex. This is the logical part of the brain that involves rational thoughts, thinking skills as well as language and speech processing.

According to this theory, we are only fully conscious of our new brain, the neocortex. But our mid brain (limbic system) and old brain (reptilian brain) are largely unconscious. Our unconscious is incredibly efficient, smart and useful. Neuro-scientists have estimated that our five senses receive 11 million pieces of information every second with our conscious brain only processing around 40 pieces. The rest is being assessed by the unconscious automatically.

The unconscious brain helps you to determine what you should pay attention to with your conscious brain. Your decision-making behavior is greatly influenced by the unconscious brain. According to Weinschenk, the best website is designed to talk to all three brains, both the conscious and unconscious...

When we read or listen to a story, our brains physically react as though we were having the same experience ourselves. When combined with pictures, it is a very powerful way to immediately grab attention, convey information and ensure that your reader retains your message.

Story-telling is a fantastic method of persuasion. It’s almost like a hypnotic process. I’ve noticed that I tend to suspend rational thought when I’m thoroughly engaged with reading or hearing a fascinating story. I’m fully conscious but my mind is taken over because I’m actively visualizing the situation by generating images to accompany the words I’m reading/hearing. And the images I’m creating are generating emotions at the same time. A skilled story teller can easily embed suggestions or increase one’s perceived value subtly by using stories.

This is a really powerful persuasion tactic and something I would encourage you to learn. All of us can tell stories but not all of our stories are as persuasive as they can be...'

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