Parts of the Brain

This parts of the brain chart is based on Paul MacLean's triune brain theory. An influential neuroscientist, MacLean believed that the human brain contains three separate "drivers" that control the neural chassis, each of which represents a major stage in our evolutionary development:

The Neural Chassis (Hindbrain and Midbrain)

parts of the brain

Brain Stem

controls important automatic functions such as heart rate and breathing


involved in the transitions between being awake, being asleep, and dreaming


controls movements that have been learned and no longer require our direct attention such as keeping one's balance while walking, riding a bike, or playing the piano.


involved primarily in facial and eye movements

1. The Reptilian Brain

(shared with reptiles)
basal ganglia

Basal Ganglia

involved in initiating and controlling voluntary movements
as well as reflex actions and instincts

2. The Limbic System / Emotional Brain

(shared with all mammals)


is the main relay station for transferring information from the inner parts of the brain to the outer parts


controls the release of adrenaline as well as our appetite, sleep patterns and sex drive


takes items from our short-term memory and indexes them into long-term memory


involved in producing and regulating our emotions, especially fear

3. The Neocortex / Rational Brain

(shared with primates and other large mammals)
frontal lobe

Frontal Lobes

the CEO of the brain, performs rational functions such as imagining the future and using logic to solve problems
parietal lobe

Parietal Lobes

involved in the senses of taste, smell, and feel
occipital lobe

Occipital Lobes

process images from the eyes
temporal lobe

Temporal Lobes

process information from the ears and are involved in memory formation and retrieval

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