The Triune Brain

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The Hindbrain or Reptilian Brain. The brainstem and the cerebellum are the oldest part of the brain that we share with most animals. It is referred to as reptilian because reptile brains are predominately brain stem and cerebellum. This part of the brain controls instinctive behavior,muscles, balance and the autonomic functions of breathing and heartbeat.  The reptilian brain primarily is reactive to direct stimuli. The triune brain theory underscores Intuitive Learning’s focus on teaching the will before feeling and thinking. The primacy of the reptilian brain is the basis for centering, which requires the primary skills of standing upright and walking about. If the carriage of the body does not support the head properly (without tilting to far forward or backward) the problems can arise.

The modern tendency is to let the student bend over so far that their head is on the paper the student is trying to write on or read. The focus should be on good posture, and an upright position that frees the student to breathe easily and without effort. We can see in the student that is too far forward (fight) the over-focusing, intensive, almost manic tendencies of anxiety.  We can see in the student that is too far backwards that they retreat (flight) from the lesson and want to sleep, leave, or daydream.


The Midbrain or Mammalian Brain.  The midbrain is also called the limbic system of the midbrain.  The limbic system is the source of emotions and everything that is “agreeable or disagreeable.” Survival is based upon the avoidance of pain (disagreeable) and the recurrence of pleasure (agreeable). The limbic system cannot function on its own, it needs to interact with the neocortex (forebrain) to process the emotions. It is from the limbic system that feelings arise and must be processed. If feelings are sublimated, they fall back to hindbrain responses. If feelings are made conscious, they are processed by the forebrain.  Both the reptilian and midbrain (limbic) must be working together before higher order thinking can arise. Therefore, learning arises from willing (hindbrain), enters the feeling (midbrain) and then can be processed by thinking (forebrain).


The Forebrain or Neocortex. The forebrain is called the neocortex, or the cerebral cortex, and it controls higher-order thinking skills like reasoning and speech. The forebrain appears in higher mammals but not in the same way as in humans. Conscious cognitive development is centered in this newest part of the brain that is characteristically human. Thinking is centered in this part of the brain that has tremendous potential for growth. Only higher order mammals have a developed forebrain. The forebrain is the main control center for sensory and associative information processing, visceral functions and voluntary motor functions.

Soul Forces Related to Brainwaves  (PDF)


How Mathematics is Taught in a Waldorf School


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