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The Basic Anatomy of the Brain
The human brain is an amazing tool.  It's one of the organs of the body and it's the most complex instrument in the known universe. The other organs, such as the heart or the lungs, are not as sophisticated. Unlike these small simple organs that are capable of being transplanted from one person to another, the brain is so interwoven into the fabric of our bodies that we could refer to the body as being an organ of the brain, as opposed to being the other way around. 
 
An adult human's brain is about the size and weight of a melon.
 
What makes the brain so remarkable is that it's made up of 86 billion neurons interconnected by 1.5 x 10 to the power 14 synapses. These are the junctions between two nerve cells consisting of a minute gap across which impulses pass by diffusion of a neurotransmitter.
 
There are 4,500 neurotransmitters. Most people have heard of two or three, such as dopamine and serotonin, but there are many, many more.
 
This arrangement offers unlimited memory. The brain combines language and visual imagery operating by perception. It's capable of thinking about itself, which is what you're doing right now, and it's capable of working with emotions. The brain is made up of several distinct regions. Each of these regions serves two functions - physiological and psychological. Each region has a different purpose, but they all connect to give us our feelings, thoughts and actions.
 
Biologically, each region plays a role in managing aspects of our physiology from regulating oxygen levels in the
blood, to sending messages to the muscles that enable us to move.
 
Each region possesses a distinct psychological function for the way in which it processes information.
 
When considering the psychological function of the human brain, it's possible to divide it into the following areas.
 
The primitive brain, or the reptilian brain, controls functions basic to survival such as heart rate, breathing, digesting food and sleeping. It's the lowest, most primitive area of the human brain and it includes the cerebellum, which is involved in coordinating movement.
 
Although we're not consciously aware of the information processed by our lower brain, it receives information from the senses and provides us with our instincts or our gut feelings. 
 
The term "the emotional brain" is used to describe the collective areas that make up the limbic system and this includes the amygdala. These are the brain structures that filter and process emotions and emotional responses.
 
This region is important because it plays a lead role in governing emotions and our natural and automatic
behaviours and functions. 
 
The outer cortex forms the rest of the brain. The rational brain is made up of the frontal lobes, or prefrontal cortex as this region is more precisely known. This area of the brain enables us to reason, to be rational, to be objective and to master our instincts and our emotions.
 
The left hemisphere of the cortex is where we store the rules by which we live our lives. For example, the rules of language are stored in this area of the brain, which is why people who suffer from strokes within the left hemisphere often find speaking difficult. Being more structured and rule based, the left hemisphere processes information sequentially with each step being a consequence of the previous one.
 
The right hemisphere of the cortex, in stark contrast, deals with pattern making. It deals with ambiguity and new learning. The right hemisphere, therefore, processes information in a more irrational style by looking at the linkages, patterns and associations with other memories and stored experiences. The brain is capable of multitasking, using both hemispheres simultaneously. It's able to process information very quickly and intuitively, and it's able to adapt to circumstances when needed.
 
However, it's not perfect. The brain is limited to some degree. It makes mistakes without care and it's influenced by outside sources. To work effectively, the human brain consumes vast amounts of glucose -energy. It consumes about 20 percent of the body's energy so, if it doesn't have to work hard, it won't. This means that it wants to make the quickest decisions possible and will often jump to conclusions, make snap decisions and judgements without all the information available. So, belief in your brain giving you an accurate representation of reality and a deep understanding of circumstances can often get you into trouble.
 
Emotions and Higher Order State
 
For years it's been thought that emotions are programmed within the limbic region of the brain. However, as we've learnt, things in the brain are not that straightforward. Research published in February 2017 by Joseph Ledoux and Richard Brown from New York University suggests that emotions are higher order states that momentarily pass through these limbic circuits.
 
All conscious experiences arise from one system in the brain - the outer parts of the brain - the cortex. The circuits below the cortex in the limbic system, provide an unconscious import which come together with other neural signals to create conscious emotional experiences.
 
It's been found that the general networks of thinking and awareness process emotional experiences just as they do for any other conscious experience. This suggests that self-centred high order states are essential for emotional experiences. This isn't saying that the defensive survival circuits of fear, flight or fight play no part in the conscious experience. The circuits of the limbic system are involved in modulating the experience but they're not directly responsible for it.
 
The new hypothesis tweaks a well-known theory of consciousness called Higher-Order Theory. LeDoux and Brown conclude that emotions are higher order states embedded in cortical circuits.
 
Can emotions ever be unconscious?
 
The answers behind how this mechanism works will influence how we approach everything from decision making to mental health. The implications of this are quite vast and quite profound and it'll be interesting to see what further research shows.