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Rebecca's Well

Rebecca’s Well: Evangelizing the Triune Brain© Pt. I

In our five part series : “Right-Brain Evangelism,” we sought to make connections between Dr. Roger Sperry’s (1986), “Split-Brain” research and the evangelizing (soul-winning) process
The Triune Brain takes us deeper into the nature of the brain’s inexhaustible faculty to learn. The brain has the capacity to see relationships, analyze how things make sense and make connecting meaning and purpose. All thinking and learning are brain-based. The mind comes off the brain and acknowledges the brain’s rules for meaningful learning.

The “Triune Brain” is the brainchild theory and research of Dr. Paul Maclean (1969, 1978) former Director of the laboratory of The Brain and Behavior at The U.S National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Maclean suggests that the human brain is actually three “brains” in one. The three layers are superimposed and evolved over centuries. Remember, I use the brain as metaphor for how we think, feel and act.

To visualize the Triune Brain, imagine an oval shaped egg divided into three horizontal parts. The lowest section is the Reptilian (Reactionary) or Hindbrain.

It houses the Brainstem or core brain and is the oldest part of the brain. It is commonly referred to as the ancestral or animalistic brain. This brain is sensorymotoric and concerned with physical survival and territorial rights i.e., personal ownership of church pews, social dominance; and display behaviors (showing off in meetings, pulpit, and other domains).

The Hindbrain has no thinking capacity. It reacts automatically. As you may suspect, undesirable and base behaviors emanate from this domain (likes and dislikes, one-track minds, selfishness, crime, violence, fight/flight syndrome associated with stress and survival and generally “low-down thinking”). Many of our children are here or they are being maintained in Hindbrain. For most, buying habits will be determined for a lifetime.

Folks operating as Hindbrain are not very nice to be around. They must be seen. They must represent.

They see things only in Black and white and show great resistance to change. They know that they are “always right and everybody else is always wrong.”

Our children and adults are overly stressed because the primitive Hindbrain is activated and highly developed. The neural functioning is away from the neo-cortex so they react rather than think. This high orientation toward the senses, maintenance and things stunts growth into the higher brain for emotional development and higher order thinking. Without stimulation, emotionally related myelination (insulation of the axon that accelerates learning), humans may not process far enough into the neo-cortex for thinking, creativity and self-dialogue. Therefore, we may run the risk of becoming a nation of impersonal, selfish humans without much regard for God or mankind.

Regression in mind development is almost paramount. Children cannot pass academic tests. Many churches echo Hindbrain love for money and things. As neural functioning moves away from the neo-cortex’s higher and nobler things of Spirit, we regress as humans.

Our children and adults need scriptural teachings of Jesus that open the neural functioning of the Corpus Callosum, that band of specialized neurons governing the right-and-left brain.
Wrapping around the Hindbrain is the middle section of the oval, the Midbrain or Old Mammalian Brain. It contains the amygdala which is associated with eventful emotions i.e. rage and the hippocampus, which involves memories’ and inner experiences of dreams, daydreams and vision. The Midbrain gives a slightly wider and richer environment for intelligible adaptable behaviors. It is our cognitive-emotional or learning and feeling brain. Tying the other two brains together, the Midbrain controls the limbic or immune system and the body’s capacity for healing. Since the Midbrain mediates memory and emotion, it plays a powerful role in the reading process. Children with reading problems usually have some underlying emotional overlay that gives cause to the academic problem.

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Existing at the uppermost level is the neo-cortex or Forebrain.

Remember the left-and-right brain in the earlier article? If you divide the Forebrain vertically, there are the left and right hemispheres. Finally the Forebrain should be in charge to “drive” the two lower brains. Its propensity for metacognition (thinking about thinking) critical thinking and creative powers of decision-making can alter the nature of the two lower brains.

MacLean speaks of the newest region in the front of the neo-cortex (located in the forehead) as the prefrontal cortex. Neuropsychologists say this area houses a large range of abilities called adaptive behaviors i.e., planning, analysis, sequencing, learning from error, empathy, compassion, beauty, etc.

Science knows of these “silent” centers in the prefrontal cortex, but gives no credence as to their spiritual orientation. Those of us who are Christians know that the so-called silent centers are not silent at all, they are spiritual conduits for the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Today, heaven and earth are harmonizing closer together.

… “for now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed.” (Rom 13:11)

Continued to next week

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