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Rebellion of the Robots and the Triune Brain

Rebellion of the Robots and the Triune Brain

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The Triune Brain

In the 1960s, neuroscientist Paul McLean developed a “triune” model of the human brain that provided evidence for our different types of behaviors. McLean’s model states that three primary regions of the human brain exist, having evolved at various times over millennia.
1. The most primitive region is the reptilian brain (brainstem and cerebellum – giving rise to automatic flight or fight responses). When we make decisions quickly and without considering all options, we use the most primitive part of our brain.
2. The old mammal brain (limbic system, amygdala, and hippocampus – where memories, habits, and attachments arise). This part of our brain gives rise to our emotions. Our likes and dislikes, our tendency to love and hate, arise from this part of the brain.
3. The new mammal brain (cerebral cortex – the source of language, abstract thought, imagination, consciousness, reasoning, and rationalization). When we pause and rationally reason out scenarios, when we exert self-control and analyze situations, we are using this most recent addition to our brain.
McLean posited that each of the three regions acted independently and could be in conflict with each other. Newer researchers have substantially revised McLean’s theory, and more recent developments show the three areas are much more interconnected than in McLean’s model. However, many aspects of McLean’s model are still valid and can be used to understand facets of human behavior.

Rebellion of the Robots

Evolution shows that humans are just another type of animal. We have evolved over millions of years. Our closest cousins are the chimpanzees. The most basic drivers seem to be the same for all life forms – survival, nourishment, and procreation.
The most ancient parts of our brain serve a purpose that aligns with these primary drivers. Some biologists consider our behavior akin to that of robots who blindly serve our need to procreate and stay safe. In this view, humans ultimately live only for their fundamental biological needs to be satisfied.
Biologist Keith Stanovich however, points out that with our new mammal brain, the neocortex, we are the only life form on earth that can change our biological purposes. We can, says Stanovich, be rebel robots who define our purpose as individual human beings. We no longer have to succumb to base instincts such as violence and war. Instead, we can break free from our ancient evolutionary heritage and serve a broader purpose of peace and well-being for all. We can be true long-term leaders of the earth.

The choice is yours

The psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote, “I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
We should always remember the great holocaust survivor and writer Viktor Frankl who advised that “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

© Kaikhushru Taraporevala

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