Your Three Brains and How They Interact

Dr. Phyllis Books

This article, entitled Case Study: Your Three Brains and How They Interact - Meet Heather comes from Dr. Phyllis Books at reversingdyslexia.com.

In the 1970s, Paul D. MacLean, the former Chief of the Laboratory of Brain Evolution and Behavior at the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington, DC, proposed the “Triune Brain Theory,” which says we have three brains, which developed in a specific sequence. Each brain has unique qualities, and ideally, the three parts communicate with each other.

The reptilian brain (also known as the basic brain, primitive brain, or hindbrain) is the first to develop and deals with basic safety and survival issues. The reptilian brain’s developmental period lasts from conception through the first fifteen months, as the body’s vestibular system is also developing. This system is concerned with balance and space and time orientation.

The limbic system (also called the mammalian brain or emotional brain) develops next, from approximately fifteen months to four-and-a-half years. Bonding and emotion are developed here, and this is when we learn how to relate to others.

The neocortex (also called the modern brain or the thinking brain) is the last to develop in humans, and it is what makes us unique from all other creatures. This modern brain gives us the capacity for language, planning, and abstract thought. The development period for the neocortex spans from four-and-a-half years to age twenty-one and beyond.

Let’s see what happens when the three brains don’t communicate as they should.

Sixteen-year-old Heather, with long blonde hair and clear blue eyes, appeared in my office with her mother while I was living in Switzerland. Luckily, her mother had learned about Brain Gym®, and the two had done hours and hours of exercises years ago, which helped her overcome some awkward gait and speech issues.

While Brain Gym® helped to compensate for her challenges, Heather still had residual reptilian brain issues: she still didn’t have her period. She had a “dyslexic-dyslexic pattern”; not only did she have some typical dyslexic patterns, her body put the information that would normally go to the left brain to the right brain instead, and vice versa. This can happen after a traumatic incident during the first few years that is too difficult for the child to deal with, so the brain scrambles itself for protection.

In Heather’s case, she witnessed a fatal car accident when she was two and a half. Apparently, she didn’t sleep well for a long time afterward and probably had nightmares about it. But what could anyone do about it now, fourteen years later?

Her brain transferred the feeling part of her brain to the logical side of the brain. So when the endocrine system was trying to turn on at puberty, the normal routing from the reproductive system couldn’t get through because the feeling part had been transferred to another department.

The surprising news was that she got her first period three days after the session where we worked to rewire that part of her brain so the reproductive system could coordinate with her feelings.

One layer of the brain needs to be complete and fully functioning for the next part to become stable and for the communication to be correct. The middle brain relays messages from both the reptilian brain and the neocortex. If one layer hasn’t developed properly, the entire brain is not as strong or cohesive as it should be.



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