The diagram shows six specific numbered areas of the brain. Research indicates that each one has a specific role to play and most have much more than one role to play. For example, the amygdala has as many as seventeen different nuclei each with its own specific role, most of which are based on emotional responses. The cingulate cortex (or gyrus) is involved in memory formation, learning and decision-making.
To keep it simple and make it understandable we will consider just one role for each numbered area, even though some areas contribute to the same role.
Selected individual roles for each area of the brain
1. The amygdala is a fast acting defence mechanism that does not think but responds quickly
2. The orbito-frontal cortex acts by trying to control impulses and uses moral judgements to keep us within social norms.
3. The uncinate fasciculus is a moral guide providing us with a conscience and guilt
4. The dorso-lateral pre-frontal cortex works analytically thinking with logic
5. The ventro-medial pre-frontal cortex considers the feelings of others and empathises
6. The cingulate cortex is involved in decision-making influenced by past experience
There are two different thinking areas within the brain
It is in the outer edge of the brain, known as the cortex, where thinking takes place, where we put into good use our ‘grey matter’. If the outer edge had just one area for thinking we wouldn’t have a problem. However, there are at least two thinking and interpreting areas.
The dorso-lateral edge is interpreting in a rational logical way. The orbito-frontal cortex is interpreting by impression, feelings and emotions and has direct links to the amygdala. So this second way of thinking has ‘joined’ forces with the strongest emotional centre within the brain, the amygdala. What we now have in effect are two interpreting brains. One of them is virtually automatic and thinks for us without our input and is based on emotion. The other is under our control and allows us to think, as we want to. The trouble is that these two ’brains’ do not think the same way and they do not typically agree on the interpretation of what is going on. We have a potential ‘battle’ within our head going on all the time!
The Chimp Model is a simplified way of understanding our two thinking brains
Is there an easy way to make sense of this and to manage the situation to our advantage? The Chimp Model offers a simplified way of understanding our two thinking brains and how we can learn to use them to the best of our ability. A model is not pure scientific fact or a hypothesis. It is just a simple representation to aid understanding and help us to use the science. It may also help us to make sense of how we have been in the past, how we are now, and how we can manage ourselves better in the future.
In our model, the inner Chimp is the emotional team within the brain that thinks and acts for us without our permission. The logical team is the real person, it is you; rational, compassionate and humane, and is the Human within. The memory banks for reference are the Computer.