Lisa Feldman Barrett's book ' Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain ' breaks down some common misconceptions about the brain, including the fallacy of the lizard brain that so much scientific and business literature has been built on.
According to Lisa (and science), the brain is essentially a prediction machine in a dark box, using historic data to make predictions and then applying sensory input to confirm them.
Our brains optimize for allostasis and metabolic efficiency, and that's why we act the way we do.
To debunk another common misconception, it's important to understand that our brains don’t react to things in the world.
From the moment we are born, we are using past experience to predict what will happen next.
We then use sensory data to confirm or correct our prediction. The reason our brains work this way is that they are highly efficient machines.
Your brain is in charge of allocating the resources within your body and firing neurons to make changes within a fraction of a second. It's more efficient to predict and correct than to react.
Uncertainty is metabolically expensive.
In order to keep you alive, your brain may see rocks on a ledge while you're hiking, knows from experience and learning that rocks can be dangerous, and prepare your body for the possibility of a rock coming loose and whacking you on the head.
By preparing metabolically in advance, if your brain does need to fire those neutrons, you save the vital few seconds between life and death.
When our brain makes a prediction based on past experience and gets it wrong, that's called learning. Your brain is constantly aggregating statistical data - the more signals you feed it indicating one thing, the harder it will be to untangle the associated predictions.