So, it is also true that neurons that no longer fire together, no longer wire together. Meditation taps into this ability to transform your relationship with your daily experiences. It processes knowledge and creates neural networks in preparation for experiences.
Frontiers | Creative brains: designing in the real world† | Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Limbic Brain. When the neural networks of the neocortex fire during the experience, the limbic brain releases chemicals that trigger changes in the body to prepare it. This chemical change reflects emotions you are feeling. The experience then triggers an emotion that the body memorizes in relation to that experience.
This is why you can remember events better when you can recall how you felt emotionally at the time.
The limbic brain produces chemicals to help it remember experiences so it can be better at predicting responses to similar future events. Finally, the cerebellum, the seat of our unconscious mind. It stores habitual thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. When a thought pattern and neurochemical experience is rehearsed over and over, the cerebellum memorizes it and stores it as a program in our subconscious so it becomes automatic.
When you get into an argument with a loved one over a certain topic, your neocortex processes the argument, your limbic brain creates an emotional response in relation to the argument, and when done frequently, the cerebellum memorizes and stores it. This creates your mental habit and behavior to this topic of argument.
Now when someone else brings up a topic similar to that one, your cerebellum brings that stored program up and triggers your neocortex and limbic brain to react the same way you reacted to the previous experiences. You get caught in this mindless loop of impulsively reacting, which can get you into a lot of trouble. Meditation trains your ability to pay attention to the experiences moment by moment.
Our Three Brains - The Reptilian Brain
As noted above, we have three brains. The one we know best is in our head. The thinking brain in our head is the observer. But the mind separates us from sensations of the body and feeling our connection with the world. You cannot reason your way into love or fulfillment—or into a state of grace.
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It has its own intelligence that is sensitive, feeling, and loving. Half the cells in the heart are neurons, or nerve cells—the same type of cells that are in our head brain. Research has shown that the heart is an information processing center with the capacity to learn, remember, and act on its own as well as connect with and send signals to key brain areas that play a part in the regulation of our perceptions and emotions.
Negative emotions like fear and anger are associated with erratic heart rhythms, and the signals sent from the heart to the brain can inhibit higher cognitive function including our ability to reason and make wise decisions.
- Our Three Brains - The Emotional Brain | Interaction Design Foundation.
- Mad River Valley, The (Images of America).
- Our Three Brains - The Rational Brain | Interaction Design Foundation.
According to Dr. Michael Gershon, Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology at Columbia University, this brain deals with those instinctive reflex actions generated by the limbic area of the brain.
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This amazing system coordinates all our voluntary and involuntary actions and transmits signals to and from different parts of the body. It acts like an autopilot for much of the thinking brain. The autonomic nervous system is the division that regulates bodily functions; it has two branches, sympathetic and parasympathetic.
Origins of the 'Reptilian Complex'
It is in sync with the doing side of life. Along the way it connects with the lungs, heart, spleen, intestines, liver, and kidneys, as well as nerves that are involved in speech, eye contact, and facial expressions.
It constantly reports back to the brain in your head what is going on in your organs. The vagus nerve carries a wide assortment of signals to and from the brain, and they are responsible for a number of instinctive responses in the body. The vagus nerve has many roles, such as stimulating digestion and regulating the heartbeat.
But it also helps calm organs after a stressful experience. This eventually takes a toll on the health of the body—which in turn affects the prime functioning of our three brains. Our culture places a higher value on doing and accomplishing than on being and relaxation.