Integrating Your Inner Reptile

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Cognitive Psychology | Neurosciences


The human mind is unique in many ways. Our intelligence, language, tool making, art, and social structures are orders of magnitude more complex than any other species. At the same time, it has become popular in psychology, economics, and neuroscience to point out how irrational and error prone we are in making many decisions. A common explanation is that we are all of two minds: one an evolutionarily old, instinctive, emotional, and unconscious set of processes identified with the "reptilian" brain, and the other an evolutionarily new, rational, calculating, conscious, and unique set of abilities that are the product of our frontal lobes. These two are seen as separable and at times conflictual components of our minds and brains. Starting with research from my lab on some of our species' crowning psychological achievements, I integrate findings from psychology, neuroscience, and evolutionary theory to argue for a more integrated, elegant, and complex view of the human mind.


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