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TagTriune brain theory

Endless reflections of mirrors in labyrinth house

Hall of Mirrors: The Many Ways Consciousness Baffles Researchers

Does consciousness have a seat at the table? Wait a minute. Isn’t consciousness the table? Or is it?
The human brain was bound to disappoint a pop culture quest for easy answers; brain imaging has not turned out to be a road map of the mind. Read More ›
Iguana Eye

Look Out! The “Reptilian Brain” Is Still Here!

Many psychology students are subjected to this day to an exploded pop neuroscience myth endorsed by celebrity scientist Carl Sagan

Do we have a three-part brain — reptilian, mammalian, and human? Curiously, psychology textbooks teach us that we do and neuroscience studies teach us that we don’t. Who to believe? And how did that happen anyway? In the 1960s, Yale University physiologist and psychiatrist Paul D. MacLean (1913–2007) offered the triune brain theory. On that view, the reptilian brain (brain stem) controls things like movement and breathing; the mammalian brain controls emotion (limbic system); and the human cerebral cortex controls language and reasoning (neocortex). That might have been just another theory except that it was widely promoted by celebrity astronomer Carl Sagan (1934–1996) in his book, The Dragons of Eden (Random House, 1977). Praised in The Atlantic as “a rational, Read More ›