The Brain’s Priorities 


Lesson objective:

In this lesson, we talk about how the brain coordinates the entire body’s work to ensure the one big task of survival. In addition, we cover how the brain interprets all inputs from the world around us and coordinates appropriate responses.

As we explore our characters’ journey from her childhood moving forward, it’s important that we also start our exploration of the brain the beginning, learning some of its basic functions, structures, and priorities in order to set the stage and enable us to learn about the effects of stress and trauma on the brain and body. 

So, we’re going to start with our first and most fundamental lesson. 

What is your brain’s primary goal? I’ve give you a hint–it’s not for thinking. 

The human brain is incredibly complex. While scientists and researchers have learned so much about the brain’s structure, functions, and connections over the past decades, in many ways, we have just begun to scratch the surface. 

While the brain is a complex organ–and deeply interconnected with the rest of the body–its structure and function have some clear organizing principles. 

One of the most important lessons that we will learn about the brain is that the brain undertakes all of its tasks in service of one major, foundational goal–keeping you alive. In other words, your survival. 

To successfully navigate the world around you, you first and foremost need to stay alive. So survival is the first and prime need that we and all species share.

In understanding the human brain, it is important to recognize its role as the chief communicator of sorts. It organizes and communicates across systems in its attempts to keep you alive and well. 

And as the chief communicator, your brain is in constant communication with all systems of the body, sending messages, getting feedback, and coordinating various responses. 

Your brain helps coordinate all that is going on inside of you not in service of thoughts or emotions, but in service of your survival.

It engages with inputs and sensations from the external world and your internal world, and coordinates thoughts, feelings, and actions in order to ensure you get the various resources you need, to ensure you can adapt to changing conditions, to ensure you avoid harm as much as possible.

While the basic structure and size of our brains is more or less the same, each person has unique aspects of their reactions, feelings, and behaviors. Each of us have unique responses and patterns coordinated by the brain that have been adapted just for us, for our unique sense of safety and security, and based on our unique life experiences. 

While our brains share the basic make up, size, and structure–the outcomes of its coordination and communication can differ quite a bit from person to person. And as we move forward, we hope to make it clear in what ways each of our brains work similarly, and why our thoughts, reactions, and behaviors differ so much from person to person. 

Overall, it is important to understand how the brain learns, how we form responses, and why each of us has unique responses to the same situations both good and bad. 

Before diving deeper, it’s important to make clear that the brain’s ways of working are all organized around one central goal–survival. With that clear, let’s dive in.