Who we are - the brainBernice Clark ▼ | Wednesday April 15, 2009 6:01PM ET
Our brain is the picture of the evolution of our nervous system during the history of the planet.
During millions and millions of years reptiles developed only the brain stem. Birds have more developed nervous system but it is still very similar to reptile's. Mammals developed brain stem, cerebellum and limbic system, but their cerebrum is still immature comparing to the human's brain. More developed mammals, such as gorillas and chimpanzee, have developed cerebral cortex which is four times bigger in humans.
So, how human brain functions as a whole? It works literally as reptile and mammal brain, with developed cerebral cortex and numerous neuron connections inside the frontal cortex.
Reptile brain has the functions of surviving, self defence, attacking, feeding and sexual reproduction. Reptiles are not familiar with altruism. They don't understand the concept of community. They constantly "think" about surviving and they are always in some conflict situations with everybody. The reptile part of the human brain works the very same way.
Mammal brain is capable of emotions and acting in a community. Mammals protect and raise their young and express their emotions and devotions. Mammals on a higher level of the evolution like primates understand language and some concepts like calculating.
So, what separates us, humans, from the rest of the animal species and what is really unique only to people? It is frontal cortex, the part of each hemisphere of the brain located behind the forehead. Everything we have created and other species didn't, it's the credit of the frontal cortex. Thanks to it, we make plans, we are capable of predicting things, we daydream and think abstractly (about God and the universe). We can thank to the frontal cortex for intuition and creation in general.
Do you feel constant fear for your existence? Are you afraid of punishment and enemy of any kind? If the answers are "yes", then you are mostly using the primitive parts of the brain. It's the mind of a reptile who is lonely, scared, greedy and egoistic.
Do you like your family above all? Do you work for them and are you ready to sacrifice all for them? Could everybody, outside your family and people you know well, be dangerous for you? Now, the answer "yes" is a little bit better answer. Your active parts of the brain are on the evolutionary level of the inferior mammals.
Do you feel the world as a unity? Do you feel as the citizen of the world? Do you think that you have a mission that you must fulfil for the general good? Do you feel that you have unlimited potentials? Have you ever experienced that your mind is occupied with ideas for hours or days? If your answer is "yes", than your frontal cortex is active.
Are you capable to intuitively predict events? Do you plan your life in advance? Can you act without limitations? If you experienced some of those, then your frontal cortex is distinctly active and it develops constantly. The only problem which may to appear while you are thinking so deeply and dedicatedly is to forget to eat. On the other side, you are person who will sacrifice all for the ideas you believe in. ■
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