How Your Brain Works

Brain functions are the result of many different systems working together

Knowledge about our brain’s functions can empower us

Identifying a familiar face, or a piece of furniture may seem simple. However, behind the scenes, our brain is coordinating a complex and largely non-conscious process involving the many different brain structures that make up our visual system, including the retina, thalamus, and numerous areas of the neocortex. We only become conscious of the resulting visual experience if our brain decides we should “pay attention.” If we use the resulting visual information to respond to a threat, our reaction also engages other systems, including our memories of past similar situations, and our motor (movement) system. These visual, memory, and motor systems then work together to achieve the function which we call a “fight or flight” response, in order to survive.  

vision pathway graphic

Brain Functions

To help understand our brains better, Good Wolf has organized the functions of our brain into four major categories: 

  1. Sentience-Experience – sensory input in the context of how we feel triggers past learning to create our brain’s prediction of ourselves in the world – which is what we experience. 
  2. Mapping-Predicting – creating and constantly revising an active model of our bodies and our engagement with the world, including our beliefs, knowledge, and expectations. 
  3. Survival Behaviors – controlling our physiology, responding to threats, mating, child-rearing, and working together in groups to survive and prevail. 
  4. Sapient Behaviors – thinking behaviors allow us to learn language and other skills, to ask questions and discover new truths, to invent new tools and technologies, to create laws and governments, and to reflect upon our actions and thinking - and exercise self-control. 

Our amazing human brain has allowed us to survive and thrive through the ages. 

Our powerful human brain has driven us to create technologies that now threaten our survival. 

Our wondrous and capable human brain offers the hope that we can work together to survive and thrive in our modern world. 

To flourish, we must take control of our control system. Join us as we learn to do this - individually and collectively!