The Social Brain
Once input is processed by the reptilian brain, it enters the mammalian or limbic system, also known as the social brain because it evolved to help us deal with a social world. Here you’ll find the apparatuses for emotion and long-term memory plus the fine-tuning of movement and focus. However, the development of this portion of the brain can still be traced to the purpose of survival.
Humans, like other mammals, need to nurture their young. Most reptilian babies are born fully functional with the ability to run from their parents who are likely to eat them. Our babies cannot run; they can’t survive at all without us. So survival of the species requires that parents care about their offspring. In short, evolution gave us the capacity to care, which includes caring enough to feed our babies even when we feel tired, protect them even when we are afraid and want them to learn to be on their own even when we feel the loss.
In addition, to deal with the hostile world, we need each other to survive. So evolution gave us hormonal and biochemical reactions that encourage us to gather and befriend. We seek a smile and a warm touch from the moment of our birth. Studies show longevity and health can be linked to the number and depth of our friendships.
With the needs to care for and protect came a cascade of emotional states including what we label as jealousy, delight, loneliness, grief, anger and love. We cry, we kiss, we groom each other, we bicker, we steal, we defend, we cuddle, we console, we beam with pride and we cower in embarrassment.
In fact, even if we lose our short-term memory and ability to reason and learn through damage or disease, we still laugh, cry and express emotions through facial expressions and posture. This is the biological reason why our ever-alert reptilian brains respond to emotional gestures before language is processed, inherently knowing that emotional expressions are generally more trustworthy than the concocted word.
What is most important to remember about the limbic system is that it is the next filter in line after the reptilian brain. IfDownload Article 1K Club