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3 Brains

Did you know your body has

3 brains? 

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Do we really have three Brains?


Yes. And science proves it.

Let’s be clear at this point: we are not talking in metaphors. This is not built around some intellectual concept to help us think about how that one brain inside our skull works.


René Descartes, famous for "Cogito, ergo sum," meaning "I think, therefore I am," identified that the mind and body are two separate and distinct entities. However, there was no certainty the body was a mind because the body could only be sensed. Moreover, the western world instilled that we only need to change our thoughts to change the feelings we have in our bodies.


There are crucial new scientific insights into human thinking and feeling, connecting the dots of 100,000 million body cells. Current research has upended the notion that we have a single powerful mind home to thoughts, emotions, and reactions (neocortex, limbic brain, and cerebellum). Science now tells us we have two other brains comprising thought, memory, and action!


In addition to our well-known 'thinking' brain (which we will call the 'Head-Brain'), we have the 'social' brain (which we will call the 'Heart-Brain'), and the 'self-preservation' brain (which we will call the ‘Gut-Brain’). More importantly, all 3 Brains perceive, interpret, and react to the world in a distinctly different way. Although the brains have the same objective of keeping us alive, healthy, and happy, the critical functions are the opposite.

Before now, if Heart and Gut Brains were thought to exist at all, they were considered separate entities that existed and reacted independently and were not capable of communicating or collaborating with one another. We have come to know differently.

The Gut Brain

In the book, ‘The Second Brain’ (1998), neurobiologist Dr. Michael Gershon described that the gut contains a complex and fully functional neural network or ‘brain’.

The Gut Brain contains over 500 million neurons, sends and receives nerve signals throughout the chest/torso and innervates organs.

The priority of the Gut Brain is survival, and prompts feelings like fear, desire, disgust, and rage.

When the Gut Brain is making decisions, our communication and behavior is based on fear, anger, and lust, and it is always focused on ‘Me’.

Our Gut Brain is the real survivor; when push comes to shove, it tells us how to survive.


Pro: reaches for success and achievements

Con: you risk going unliked by others

The Heart Brain

Neuro-cardiologist Dr. J. Andrew Armour introduced the concept of a functional brain in the heart in 1991.

The heart has a complex intrinsic neural network sufficiently sophisticated to qualify as a ‘brain’. The heart’s neural network meets all the criteria specified for a brain including several types of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins, support cells and more. Its complex and elaborate neural circuit allows the Heart Brain to function independently of the Head Brain and it can learn, remember, feel and sense.

The priority of the Heart Brain is belonging and works with emotions of love, guilt, happiness, hope, joy, shame, sorrow, hate, and sadness. Because they are all based on connecting and belonging, and are all about ‘Us’, they are essential in our relationships.

It also means this Brain can only play a part in our decision-making when we feel safe enough to let our guard down and put the Gut Brain at rest, so that we can feel and nurture attachments.

Our Heart is our relationship radar, it is the center of values and is good or wrong.


Pro: good connection with others

Con: putting their needs above your own

The Head Brain

The place where three parts are connected ad are actually one braind : Reptile Brain, Mammal (limbic) Brain and Primate (neocortex) Brain.

This level is solely focused on making logical decisions for the future, based on acquired (past) knowledge. It deals with intellectual feelings like understanding, anticipation, interest, surprise, and wonder. All those things can influence our decisions. 

The important thing is to understand what the three Brains are, and how they work. We can then apply the insights resulting from the research in practical ways to help us manage (and sometimes control) our own Brains and how we interact with others.

Throughout this training, we move forward from scientific fact — that the Head, Heart and Gut Brains exist — to explore the ways we can use that knowledge to improve our Brains’ health and our lives.

Our Head is focused on providing the right prediction, and therefore understand, analyses and creates scenarios.


Pro: you have the most logical solution

Con: you omit all emotion from your decisions

When you like to see some more about the 3 Brains?

This synopsis of the 3 Brains - Head, Heart, and Gut - the path for long-lasting change a webinar that I did for ICF International Coaching Week will definitely provide you with some interesting insights, beautiful people, and some meat on the bones. 

When you like to hear some more about the 3 Brains?

This spotify interview by executive coach Mireia Mujika Irusta about the 3 Brains - Head, Heart, and Gut - coaching 

will definitely provide you with some interesting insights, beautiful people, and some meat on the bones. 

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