Imagine an office like the one parodied on the popular show, “The Office.” There’s a new boss, sitting in a nicely furnished office behind a closed door. Guarding that door is a crafty old secretary who happens to be a drug addict. To keep the boss from finding out about the addiction, the paranoid, territorial, clever secretary screens phone callers, censors snail mail, intercepts emails, and decides what the boss knows and doesn’t know.
Nobody who threatens the secretary’s job reaches the boss. At the same time, nobody gets through to the boss without bribing the secretary. When someone does manage to complain to the boss about the secretary, the secretary convinces the boss to dismiss the upstart. The more dependent the boss grows on the secretary the more powerful the secretary grows. In effect, the secretary becomes the boss and the boss becomes the secretary’s assistant who never figures out what’s going on.
Old brain dominance works much in the same way.
Like the entrenched secretary, the much older primitive brain uses its seniority, experience, and location on the brain stem to control the new brain. Like the secretary, the old brain decides what information gets through to the new human brain and what doesn’t. And, like the secretary, the old brain is an easily bribed drug addict obsessed with holding onto a job that keeps the dopamine flowing.
Like the boss, the new brain listens to the old brain and dismisses anyone who complains about the old brain. And, like my hypothetical boss, the new brain can’t seem to figure out that it has been demoted to being the old brain’s assistant.
What do you think?
Can you believe that our reasoning, human, higher brains are no match for dopamine-manipulated primitive brains?
Is there any way to reach the new brain areas, where dopamine addiction makes sense, without threatening the old brain that doesn’t want to know about dopamine addiction?
Did your primitive brain allow the information you just read reach your human brain?