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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The triune brain, multi-focus and multi-tasking

Most likely, you have read about the reptilian, limbic and/or neocortex parts of our brain. The triune brain concept was originally formulated by neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean in the 1960s. In 1990, it was detailed in his book The Triune Brain in Evolution which is still available.

Essentially, these 3 brain parts represent 3 functions within evolution: (1) doing: safety and security (reptilian complex and oldest brain), (2) being: emotions and memories (limbic system), and (3) thinking: language and spatial reasoning (neocortex and newest brain). Feel free to listen to a 2013 TEDx talk by Joe Dispenza, or read its transcript.

To a large extent, the problem of multi-tasking is artificial because our 3 brain types can work parallel and/or simultaneously. Some examples: eating and watching TV (1+2), walking and thinking (1+3), parenting (2+3), and sexual activities (1+2+3).

Multi-tasking is only a problem when the same brain part is involved more than once. Example: having 2 separate and simultaneous conversations at the same time (3+3). For me, it's (very) hard to talk to someone on the phone while also listening to the input from another person.

Our triune brain may also be the reason why it's hard to focus on 1 task for long. Strange sounds and/or unusual movements (#1) may easily interfere our thinking (#3). In other words: although doing (#1) and thinking (#3) are a good combination, our oldest brain system overrides our newest brain system when our survival (ie, safety and security) may be at stake.

I suppose that the triune brain concept is based on the (comparativevisual aspects of animal and human brains. Independent, 2014: "Yet the most complex structure in the known universe – as it is often described – is more mysterious than the least- explored regions of the deepest ocean." Also see my 2016 blog on the human brain.

Wikipedia states that the triune brain hypothesis is "no longer [supported] by the majority of comparative neuroscientists in the post-2000 era", and refers to a May 2015 article in the magazine Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

May 2015 article: "In this programmatic paper we explain why a radical embodied cognitive neuroscience is needed. We argue for such a claim based on problems that have arisen in cognitive neuroscience for the project of localizing function to specific brain structures. The problems come from research concerned with functional and structural connectivity that strongly suggests that the function a brain region serves is dynamic, and changes over time."

"The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10 thousand other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe." A quote by Michio Kaku (b. 1947), American theoretical physicist, futurist, and popularizer of science.

Mysterious Ways (1991) by U2 - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


Note: all bold and/or italic markings by LO unless stated otherwise