The three evolutionary layers of the triune brain are the very ancient brain (reptilian), the later mammal brain (limbic system), and, the more recent human brain (neocortex).
(The ‘triune model’ is not literal but is metaphorically useful)
Your inner-most, smallest and most ancient reptilian brain may well be your most treasured possession. It controls everything you value most, your life systems. It runs your heart rate and blood pressure, your respiration, it regulates deep evolutionary maintenance and self-healing. It’s hard-earned digital wisdom has been curated over the course of a million successful generations. It’s IP value in dollarized terms is simply priceless.
Your life systems reptilian brain is in constant conversation 24/7/365 with your emotional mammalian brain. Your wide repertoire of emotions ranging from fear, anger, longing, surprise, joy, sadness, trust and disgust are all triggered and/or switched in the mammalian brain. These mood changes and emotional switches are in sync with high speed parallel processing in the reptilian brain. The reptilian brain can stimulate the mammalian brain … and, of course, vice versa.
Enter your BIG human brain! This new brain, the neo-cortex, is also in conversation 24/7/365 with both the older brains. As you would expect, their conversations can stimulate responses in the human cortical brain … and, again, vice versa. All three evolutionary brains are in constant digital engagement up and down the neuronal layers of the triune brain (reminder that this is not literally accurate but is so, metaphorically).
So what does this mean?
It means that both real stories and fake stories work the same way in stimulating responses in the triune brain.
When you are walking alone through Hyde Park at night and you suddenly hear a sinister sound behind you, your heart will pump faster and your skin will crawl whether Jack the serial killer is actually there, or not.
Without evidence the triune brain cannot tell the difference between a real story and a fake story.
It is the balance of evidence that can shift the brain from fiction to reality … and, of course, vice versa.
For example, at the sight of Santa, a young triune brain might go full placebo. It believes! Joy (or fear). Anticipation. Heart rates change. Adrenalin surges. The triune brain is going bananas.
The parent’s brain does not respond to Santa that way, but when it sees the child’s brain react it goes full placebo, too!
Because I played Santa at Armadale Pre-School for eleven years I witnessed this placebo phenomenon every year.
One year, as an experiment, I said to the kids (ex cathedra),
Children, I now have something very interesting to tell you. Did you know that the weather at the North Pole has been so unusually cold that poor Rudolph’s nose turned from red to blue! So, let’s all now sing ‘Rudolph The Blue-Nosed Reindeer’.
The children had no problem at all and burst immediately and loudly into song. Many of the parents went from full placebo into cognitive dissonance.
Subsequently, each year I was able to predict the placebo algorithm and its effect. It was an interesting experiment and also fun to do!
THE PLACEBO ALGORITHM
Activate your human cortical thinking (cvs)
Think of a much better story (x10)
Switch your mammalian limbic emotion (bvs)
Re-activate your reptilian brain (cvs2bvs)
I sometimes think of the ways we respond emotionally to situations and how we can use our cvs2bvs thinking to manipulate or change our emotional responses in our mammal brain. I call these ways to change, The Limbic Games.
For example, the 4 following limbic games can involve switching:
Ten Basic Emotions
NOTE: This SOT list of Ten Basic Emotions is curated from the works of Darwin, Plutchik and Sapolsky: **Darwin Charles, Ekman Paul, Prodger Phillip (1998) The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, 3rd edn, London: Oxford University Press. **Plutchik, R., & Kellerman, H. (1980). Emotion: Theory, research and experience. Vol. 1, Theories of emotion. New York: Academic Press **Sapolsky, Robert (2017) Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst (Penguin Press)