Now that new methods enable us to know more about reptile brains, as explained at Massive Science:
Wim Hof is also known as “The Iceman,” holder of 26 world records and one of the most successful extreme athletes of all time. He attributes his success to a breathing method that he thinks exploits his “reptilian brain,” helping him acquire a superhuman tolerance to punishing cold. According to some, tricks like these fool the lizard part of your brain – the more primitive, unconscious mind – and can be used to make us vulnerable to marketing, lose us money, or maybe even elect Donald Trump.
Paul MacLean first proposed the idea of the “lizard brain” in 1957 as part of his triune brain concept, theorizing that the human brain supposedly consists of three sections, nested based on their evolutionary age. He believed the neocortex, which he thought arose in primates, is the largest, outermost, and newest part of the human brain: It houses our conscious mind and handles learning, language, and abstract thought. MacLean thought the older, deeper limbic system – which mediates emotion and motivation – began in mammals. Finally, he traced the brainstem and basal ganglia back to primordial reptiles, theorizing that they controlled our reflexes, as well as our four major instincts: to fight, flee, feed, and fornicate.
Of course all that just had to be true, right? However,
Taken together, these comparisons showed that rather than considering the reptilian brain a distinct unit, separate from the mammalian limbic system and the primate neocortex, the three can’t be cleanly distinguished from one another. Instead, reptiles have primitive versions of both of MacLean’s “higher” brain areas, all but proving his theories false. These areas didn’t evolve from scratch after reptiles, but instead simply expanded out from their smaller, less well-defined reptilian precursors.
These findings don’t just change how we classify regions of the brain, they change how we think about lizards and other “lower” animals. If their brains are somewhat similar to our own, why wouldn’t their thought be similar as well? If lizards do think so differently, what relatively minor genetic difference could possibly cause such a dramatic change? James R. Howe VI, “Human and reptile brains aren’t so different after all” at Massive Science
Steady there, James. There is little evidence that most reptiles “think” much, or need to. Some birds and mammals do. See, for example, Furry, feathery, and finny animals speak their minds and Does intelligence depend on a specific type of brain?
These findings mainly deepen the mystery of the human mind, which traverses regions unknown to any of them without the brain being that much different.
See also:Do big brains matter to human intelligence? We don’t know. Brain research readily dissolves into confusion at that point. We also know very little about the human brain. Take this controversy about why the large human brain evolved…
Can reptiles experience love? If no love relationships exist for that animal in nature, well then you would be expecting the animal to independently invent one. Why not ask him to do your taxes while you are at it?
Furry, feathery, and finny animals speak their minds
Does intelligence depend on a specific type of brain?