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Did You Know: You Have Three Brains?

Recent scientific research is beginning to form a new understanding of how our bodies work, and part of this is that we have three ‘brains’.  This is not new. Eastern traditions such as Ayurvedic and Yoga have known this for years, and it may be known as body, soul, and spirit.

What is a Brain?

Traditionally we understand our brain to be the grey matter in our head.  If fact a brain is not a singular body part. It is any element of the body capable of learning!

What are the three ‘brains’?

  1. The head
  2. The heart
  3. The gut

1.  The Head: Observing the World.

This is the place of logic, reasoning and future plans. It’s where synapses, electrical impulses, and hormones talk to each other, which is what allows for consciousness and awareness. It gives you the ability to identify patterns and make sense of the world, enabling thinking, perception and cognition. The head brain recognises things, makes meaning of them, creates narratives and masters language.

To summarise the head: “I think”, “I reckon”, “I understand”.

2.  The Heart: Reaching out to the World.

The heart is the place of emotions, memories, images, dreams and visions.

It generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body. It creates thinking hormones similar to those created in the head brain.

Here lie our values, along with the processes of emoting and valuing, along with the way we feel about relationships.

To summarise the heart: “I feel”.

3. The Gut:  Directly Engaged with the World.

The gut is where we base our instinct and intuition — unselfconscious, immediate, practical and direct. It has more neurones than the spinal cord. It produces large amounts of the hormone cortisol, which is released during stressful periods to regulate metabolism, control blood pressure, and assist with memory formulation.  This ‘brain’ is also responsible for processing information during sleep.  Large amounts of serotonin is produced in the gut. Our core identity lies here – what is me, what is not me? 

The gut brain It is responsible for safety and protection and is extremely important in upholding our immune system.  It takes care of self-preservation, fear, anxiety, mobility and action.

To summarise the gut: “It takes guts”, “Let’s do it”.

These ‘brains’ communicate with one another through the vagus nerve. Research shows that the majority of the information flows up to the head brain, rather than down to the other two brains.

Are we missing something?

In a society where we are constantly putting and using our head brain first, we should ask ourselves:

  • How would it be to start paying attention to our emotions and feelings about something or someone? 
  • How would it be to pay attention to our ‘gut instinct’? 
  • How would it be to consider what foods we are eating and how they are impacting on the health of our gut?

At Shefford Osteopathic clinic we believe in supporting your lifestyle as well as your physical body. Aspects such as nutrition, exercise and sleep help your emotional and mental wellbeing as well as your physical quality of life. If you would like to review and improve your lifestyle, we’re here to help with expert, friendly and practical advice.

This article was written by Karen Robinson, formerly a Registered Osteopath.