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Emotional brain and rational brain: functions and differences

The brain is the most complex organ in the body; It is the organ that allows us to think, have emotions, move, and even dream. This together with the spinal cord form the  central nervous system , and all the nerves found in our body form the peripheral nervous system.

The cerebral cortex (one of the most important parts of the brain) is where the cells and neurons that send impulses and make our nervous system work.
The cerebral cortex presents a great variety of functions, among them the following stand out:

  • Initiation of voluntary movements
  • Receiving tactile information
  • Receiving visual stimuli
  • Receiving auditory information
  • Participation in the detection of sound qualities (intensity and tone)
  • Coordination of complex movements
  • Complex processing of visual information
  • Problem solving and complex thoughts
  • Processing and integration of multisensory information
  • Participation in  motivation , emotions and memory
  • Reception of projections of higher-level sensory areas and limbic structures
  • It sends projections to other regions such as the prefrontal cortex.

The rational brain or neocortex is 2/3 of the human brain. In other words … what gives us the quality of human and thinking.
The neocortex is divided into two hemispheres, right and left;  each one of them is in charge of carrying out different mental processes.

The right side of the brain is the one that provides us with the artistic, emotional part, taste towards music, towards colors and different nuances, it allows us to recognize different types of shapes, manages our imagination and creativity.  The left side is the reasoning side, the one that gives us the ability to learn numbers, develop language, analyze problems, and the quality of being abstract.

The emotional brain or limbic system – located below the cerebral cortex – is made up of the thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala and hippocampus.
The one who plays a fundamental role when talking about emotions is the brain amygdala , since it is the one who sends the impulses that transmit emotions and is the center of emotional control, in addition to directly influencing learning and memory .

Physical differences between rational and emotional brain?

It is known that not all of us empathize in the same way, but… Is there a physical difference between the brains of people who show greater emotional empathy than those of those who show greater cognitive (rational) empathy ?

Well, apparently the answer to this question is yes … According to research, physical differences have been found between the brains of people who respond emotionally to feelings and those who respond more rationally.

“People who have high levels of affective empathy are the ones who often feel scared when they watch a horror movie, or start crying during a sad scene. On the contrary, those with high cognitive empathy are more rational, for example, when a clinical psychologist advises a patient ”, stated Robert Eres in his research from Monash University (Australia).

In the research, 176 participants in whom the voxel-based morphometry method (a study used to find structural differences between brains) was called to examine the degree of density of gray matter in their brains. In it , a great correlation was found between the density of gray matter and cognitive and affective empathy , since in people with greater affective empathy and sensitivity, the density of cerebral gray matter was higher in a central region of the brain (insula ), unlike the subjects who presented more rationality, in which the density of their gray matter was higher in an area called the midcingulate cortex.
In effect of this investigation it has been confirmed that there is a difference between the emotional brain and the rational brain.

You may also be interested in:   Human beings and identity construction

Emotion and cognition

The human brain, feelings and emotions have occupied the thinking of various scientists, philosophers and psychologists throughout history; For this reason, different theories about emotions and cognition have been proposed. Some theories postulate that emotions are caused by subjective evaluations of events that occur to the individual, while others propose theories based on biology, which suggest a direct relationship between an event, the emotion, and the individual’s physiological or neuronal state. This last theory is proposed by James-Lange, who describes emotions as “mere experiences of change in bodily state.”

The brain mechanisms that give rise to conscious emotions and feelings are not that different from those that give rise to conscious perceptual experiences.

Emotions are innately programmed in the subcortical circuits of the brain, therefore, they are not a response to what our brain captures from our observations, but they are responses typical of the human being.

The brain and intelligence

In Russia different studies were carried out to try to get to the basis of human intelligence . The brains of different people who had a high intellectual level were studied. The study observed: brain size, neuronal density and the number of convolutions of the cerebral cortex; but no conclusion could be reached as to what is the physiological basis that originates human intelligence.

The latest research has focused on the fact that at least half of human intelligence comes from genes. It is estimated that the other half is related to the functioning and development of brain structures and through knowledge acquired at an early age.

New evidence that was demonstrated by studying the brains of healthy people and those of some people with brain damage, concludes that intelligence is not located or based on a single region of the brain or even in the brain in general, but involves areas specific to the brain that work together in a coordinated manner. This intelligence depends specifically on how the structures involved are related and on the brain’s ability to integrate information from verbal, visual, spatial and executive processes.

The regions encompassed by intelligence are found primarily within the left prefrontal cortex, the left temporal cortex, the left parietal cortex, and in the connecting white matter association tracts.

From these new discoveries, other doors will open to continue with the investigation of human intelligence; exploring how the brain, genes, nutrition and the environment interact to develop and evolve the intellectual abilities that give us human qualities.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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