Tag Archives: Triune brain

Snakes and ladders: The myth of the reptilian brain

4 Sep

The claim that we have a reptilian brain lurking below our mammalian cortex is now well established in the popular imagination.


However, this triune brain hypotheses is almost certainly false. Here is an excerpt from the abstract to a paper I read at a meeting of the American Educational Research Association:

“MacLean’s triune brain model of brain evolution continues to be controversial. This paper argues that, while MacLean made a real contribution in his effort to link brain anatomy, behavior, and evolution, his model assumes a progressive ladder like process that is inconsistent with modern understandings of evolutionary change. Rather we should see brain evolution as process of niche adaptation built on a mosaic of conserved and derived neurological structures.”

A draft of the entire paper is available as a pdf here.

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