Monday, March 22, 2010

Our three brains

There is so much fantastic information out there about dog behavior and animal behavior in general that I am just continually amazed and dismayed by how well the majority of people avoid it.
A coworker recently lent me a book by Temple Grandin called “Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior.”
I’d love to write a whole book about the incredible Temple Grandin, who has contributed so much to both the worlds of autism and animals. She is an autistic pioneer. I could go on and on, but if you’re interested in learning more, Google her. Buy one of the books, order a copy of the documentary and learn more about this amazing woman.
I’m only a few chapters into this book, but every page I turn seems to be another “ah-ha!” moment for me.
Today, I’ll share my “ah-ha!” moment from this morning. It’s about our three brains.
Yep, I said three brains.
Did you know your brain is actually made up of three smaller brains? You have the frontal lobe, which is the human brain, and then you have an animal brain and also a reptile brain.
The reptile brain is thought to be the earliest form of the brain. It regulates the basic functions of life — breathing, sleeping, etc. The animal brain is second earliest form, which regulates simple emotions and behaviors. Grandin likens this brain to the wolf brain — it gave wolves the ability to form a pack and rear their young, she wrote.
Lastly, the human brain ties it all together and regulates language and more complex behaviors. I believe she wrote something along the lines of, “The reptile brain lets the wolf breath and sleep, the animal brain lets it form a pack and rear young and the human brain allows us to write about it all.”
Beautifully stated.
Why three brains? Because mother nature doesn’t throw away what works, Grandin wrote. Instead, it just builds upon what does.
The human brain, the frontal lobes, are only found to be large and developed in humans and primates.
What’s important to take from all of this?
First — there are MAJOR differences in the way humans and dogs operate due to the large frontal lobes in our human brains vs. the rather undeveloped frontal lobes in our dogs.
Second — Beyond those stark differences, at least two parts of our brains are pretty much the same. So, underneath it all, we share a lot in common.
Incredible, isn’t it?

Buy the book online via, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for coming by to read our blog post about pet emotions. I did indeed find your post on the three brains quite interesting.