If the brain is like a computer, as so much popular science would have us believe, then every now and then, perhaps it requires tech support.
“They are like biological computers,” confirmed local therapist Jan Yordy, whose new picture book ‘Be the Boss of Your Thoughts,’ attempts to unlock the mysteries of the cranium to a pint-sized audience. “To think of the brain as being this computer that sends signals of information back and forth might not be a new concept to people … but the idea that they can get disconnected from the thinking part of the brain, that’s the key.”
Yordy’s book is an attempt to make the triune brain theory understandable for a wide audience. The theory was first articulated in the 1960s, when neuroscientist Paul MacLean described three evolutionary parts of the brain (“a brain within a brain within a brain,” says Yordy): the paleomammalian complex, the neomammalian complex, and the reptilian complex. Or, in layman’s terms, the thinking, emotional, and animal brains.
According to the theory, problems arise when these three parts become disconnected.
“In our emotional brain, the amygdale is like the alarm system – it’s always looking for danger,” said Yordy. “When it perceives that there’s something dangerous, it will immediately send a signal down to the primitive brain, so the primitive brain is going to react – fight, flight, or freeze.”
However, she continued, “Because it’s all about survival, it stops sending the energy up to the thinking brain, and you get disconnected from being able to think in a logical, rational, positive way. … When kids get anxious – and they are a lot more anxious these days – they’re going into their primitive brain, and they get stuck there.”
Given that nuances of the brain are hard to grasp for most adults, let alone five-year-olds, ideas such as these are difficult to boil down. Yordy has a strategy for that.
“For the kids to understand the concepts, first the parents have to understand them too,” said Yordy. “The beauty of having a book like this that a parent can read to a child is, the parents start to get it. When they get it, they can change their parenting strategies.”
Or, in other words, the secret target audience is actually the older set. “I want to empower parents to be better parents,” she explained.
Yordy will be hosting a book launch party at the Integrated Center for Optimal Learning in Waterloo, 826 King St. N., unit 16, on June 2 from 2-4 p.m. More information is available at www.energyconnectiontherapies.com.