lengths - like four different radio or television channels.
The most advanced part of your brain has six
You also have an active conscious brain and a
subconscious brain. And much of the knowledge you take in is learned
At the great risk of oversimplifying:
Your lower brain - or brain-stem - controls many of
your instincts, such as breathing and heartbeat.
The central part of your brain controls your
emotions. Scientists call it the limbic system - from the Latin word limbus for
"collar" or "ring" - because it wraps around the brain-stem like a
Your upper brain enables you to think, talk,
reason and create. Scientists call it the cortex - the Latin word for
And tucked out the back you have the cerebellum,
which plays a vital role in storing "muscle memory": the things you
remember by actually performing tasks, such as riding a bike, or playing any sports.
You use many different parts of the brain together to
store, remember and retrieve information.
Each one of these factors has an important bearing on
how you use your in-built power that dwarfs that of any computer.
It is not the role of this book to indulge in religious
debate. But the awesome power of your brain may well provide common ground for
creationists and evolutionists. Those with deeply-held fundamental religious beliefs could
well argue that the complexity of the human brain and mind, with the soul, represents a
pinnacle of creation. All other creatures have brains that are puny by comparison.
Many scientists, on the other hand, say that humans are
the end result of over four billion years of evolution.6 They say
that's how long the earth has existed. In this theory, the first primitive forms of life
did not emerge for the first billion years.
Scientists now believe it wasn't until 500 million
years ago that creatures started to develop brains, along with backbones and the nervous
systems that link them. Even today, semi-primitive creatures like oysters or
lobsters - without backbones - have very simple nervous systems, with only a few thousand
nerve cells.7 But in creatures with backbones
the nervous-brain system is much more complex. Even a rat's brain has millions of cells:
highly developed where they are linked to his whiskers.
If you dissected your brain, at the base of your skull
you would find
Contents Page Preface