Over 30 years ago, the former Chief of the Laboratory of Brain Evolution and Behavior at the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington, DC, Paul D. MacLean, first proposed the Triune Brain Theory, which shows us how your child’s brain develops.
According to MacLean, we have not one, but three brains that develop in a particular sequence, and each one has its own responsibilities and strengths. The three brains will ideally communicate with each other through the middle, mammalian brain. When they don’t communicate properly, we end up “out of sync” and have a hard time feeling safe, learning, and expressing emotion – sound familiar?
The Reptilian Brain or Hindbrain
The first brain to “come online” is the reptilian brain, also known as the primitive brain or basic brain. It takes care of the basics we need to survive, such as our immediate safety and our instincts. It begins developing at conception and continues through fifteen months.
As the reptilian brain develops, our vestibular system is also laid down. This system deals with our equilibrium, our sensory perceptions, and our orientation in space and time. When our vestibular system is fully functional, we can explore and learn. When it isn’t, we experience fear and reluctance, and then our basic brain causes us to withdraw much like a frightened reptile. The beginnings of dyslexia can be found at this early stage in our development.
The Limbic System or Mammalian Brain
The midbrain, also called the limbic system, feeling brain, or emotional brain, is the second brain to develop and is designed to serve as the communication center of the triune brain. This brain emerges during the next three years and is relationship focused. Bonding and attachment come into being at this stage, and the child experiences emotions, sociability, and relations with others.
If this brain does not thrive, the child is stunted in his or her emotional growth and has a difficult time being social or creating friendships and later love interests. The three brains may also have trouble communicating with each other if the midbrain is not fully developed, further making it difficult to learn and understand the world. The dyslexic child often has midbrain challenges that cause fear and hesitation around schoolwork and social events.
The Neocortex or Modern Brain
The final brain to develop is the neocortex, also known as the thinking brain. This brain deals with higher mental functions, and it continues to develop throughout childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. The neocortex is the brain that makes us unique from other animals and gives us the ability to use language, plan our lives, and enjoy abstract thoughts.
If the primitive brain and the limbic system are not fully functional, the neocortex will not be fully developed either. The good news is that this lack of development can be reversed with proper care and natural, nonsurgical, non-drug interventions such as Books Neural Therapy.