The Reptilian Brain

Autobiography of a brain

By Larry Miller

From reptilian, to limbic: It’s an interesting study

As far as the developmental stages of the brain are concerned, in the beginning there was reptile.

The second part to evolutionarily develop was the limbic or early mammalian system. This portion is physically located between the inner reptilian and outer neo-cortex or neo-mammalian brain. The limbic brain is connected with relationships, the emotional- intellectual-subconscious and is critical to learning and memory. Family and social senses are rooted in this part of the brain, as is protection through bonding.

The development of this area is between 15 months and approximately four years and includes the terrible two’s. Researchers who work with brain development and children, claim that during the terrible two’s the child doesn’t “feel” the emotion, they “are” the emotion. With the development of the limbic brain ending at approximately age four, like the reptilian brain, there is no functional barrier and children under the age of seven respond in a knee-jerk manner to outside stimulus. During the section on the reptilian brain it was stated that it, the reptilian brain, develops between conception and the age of 15 months. The gap between reptilian and limbic development can be short or non-existent but as in all brain related learning patterns, age plateaus separate brain growth spurts.

The limbic portion is dependent upon the reptilian section for the interpretation and expression in the outer world and when inhibited, as during sleep or meditation, it deals with dreaming and visualization. The immune and autonomic nervous systems come under the regulation on the limbic brain area.

Species preservation, inclusive of others, is a high priority as are relationships. When under physical stress or attack the tendency is toward unstable breathing patterns, panicky-shifting eyes and usual result is fight or flight with self-preservation being generally weak. Often wild animals will freeze and allow larger or more dominant animals, to maul or even kill them except when defending their offspring. The limbic sounds of communication are ahs, purrs, groans, arrghs and other similar noises. Those type sounds are all automatic motor noises and don’t require the use of the tongue. Where the reptilian brain is concerned with preening and grooming connected with preservation of the species, awareness of self begins with the development of the limbic section of the brain.

Dreams begin in either the limbic section or the right hemisphere of the brain. Animals with early mammalian or limbic brains mark their territory with scratch marks on trees, scat or other olfactory related items. Researchers claim humans do that with graffiti, colors (which are limbic symbols) and calling cards.

Learning techniques connected with the limbic brain system are sensorimotor (movement oriented and physically based), charged with lots of sensory input (show and tell and chase a gazelle), repetition and visual aids that are repetitive (TV ads must be aimed at the limbic brain) and visceral, intuitive, instinctive and emotionally charged as opposed to intellectually based.

The limbic system for learning is to develop a strategy that has worked in the past and use it for everything, whether it works or not. This is evident in hunting or foraging patterns in animals. They can be come confused, disoriented and often will starve to death if the known pattern fails to produce the expected results. The limbic brain isn’t capable of transfer of thought or intuitive ideas. Stumbling onto something that works, can be memorized and used at a later time (the “Aha’ experience) came into being with the limbic brain. The initiation of short-term memory and transfer to long-term memory, both based on sensorimotor and emotion structure, are controlled by the limbic region.

When one considers the right and left hemispheres of the brain and how they are connected with the evolutionary development of the brain, reptilian, limbic and neo-cortex, it appears there is a mix and interconnection between all lobes. In other words none of the evolutionary brains are exclusively connected to either the right or left hemispheres.

Doing research on the brain, in which I found the following poem, is more difficult than finding information on veterinary medicine. There was no by-line so I guess it was done by the great poet and philosopher-anonymous.

“My Brain” I have a little brain, tucked safely in my head and another little brain which is in the air instead. The latter one follows me, plays with me and talks to me in bed. The other one confuses me˜the one that’s in my head.

Larry Miller is a freelance health and general life enhancement writer.


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