Understanding the Brain: How It Influences Our Thoughts and Actions

The Brain: A Complex Thinking Machine

Our brain is not just a simple thinking machine; it can think in different ways at different times. Let's take a closer look at two parts of the brain: the downstairs brain and the upstairs brain.

The Downstairs Brain: Keeping Us Safe

The bottom part of the brain, also known as the downstairs brain, has the primary role of keeping us safe. When we feel threatened or scared, this part of the brain wakes up and sends us into action to protect ourselves. It's where fear, worry, and sometimes even anger reside. Interestingly, almost every creature on Earth has a brain part similar to this.

The Upstairs Brain: Solving Tricky Problems

The top part of the brain, the upstairs brain, is more complex and particularly active in humans. It helps us solve tricky problems and is where our sensible thinking works best. This part of the brain enables us to solve problems using facts and clear reasoning. It also allows us to come up with clever and creative ideas. Throughout history, the upstairs brain has helped humans build houses, plan roads, write stories, invent electricity, and create amazing artwork, music, and technology.

The Brain's Prioritization Process

The brain can't do all of these jobs simultaneously, so it needs to decide what is important and what to focus on. When we feel scared or threatened, the downstairs brain automatically receives all the attention. This is beneficial because it keeps us safe from immediate danger. In such moments, the upstairs brain is not needed and temporarily shuts down, redirecting all energy to the downstairs brain. For example, if a soccer ball is flying towards your head while you're chatting with friends, your brain prioritizes moving you out of harm's way rather than coming up with creative ideas for a science project.

The Impact of Fear on Sensible Thinking

However, there are times when we feel scared without any actual danger to our physical well-being. In these situations, the upstairs brain doesn't realize that our body is safe and still allocates energy to the downstairs brain. As a result, worries become louder, and our sensible thinking gets overshadowed and harder to access. This can make it challenging to make good decisions, think clearly, and control our emotions. Worries may exaggerate, anger may intensify, and conflicts with others may arise.

Reconnecting with the Sensible Brain

When the downstairs brain calms down, we can reconnect with our sensible brain. This allows us to reflect on our actions, apologize if necessary, and problem-solve for the future. It's essential to become better at noticing which part of the brain is dominant in different situations. By doing so, we can increase our ability to connect with the sensible part of the brain more often, even when feeling scared. Some kids can even recognize this process and seek help from their parents.


Understanding the different parts of the brain and how they influence our thoughts and actions can help us navigate life more effectively. By recognizing when our downstairs brain is in control and learning to reconnect with our sensible brain, we can make better decisions, manage our emotions, and enhance our overall well-being.

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