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Reclaim Your Brain

How to Calm Your Thoughts, Heal Your Mind and Bring Your Life Back Under Control

By Joseph A. Annibali, M.D.
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Reclaim Your Brain: How to Calm Your Thoughts, Heal Your Mind and Bring Your Life Back Under Control by Joseph A. Annibali, M.D.
Synopsis

Reclaim Your Brain (2015) is about how imbalances and quirks in the human brain can lead to serious problems such as anxiety, depression or addiction. These blinks explain the biological roots of these problems and what you can do to overcome them to get your brain back in check!

Key idea 1 of 8

A healthy brain has a good balance between the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system.

The human brain is probably the most complex organ in the world. Fortunately, you don’t need a PhD to grasp a basic understanding of how it works!

You just need to know two key areas: the prefrontal cortex, or PFC, and the limbic system.

The PFC, which is the brain’s most recently evolved region, serves as the control center. It’s responsible for complex tasks like organization, impulse control, motivation and problem solving.

The PFC is particularly important in managing negative thoughts and emotions, because it helps you analyze them. That’s why a well-functioning PFC is crucial to living a positive life. If a person’s behavior was guided solely by their PFC, on the other hand, they’d be like the Star Trek character Mr. Spock: perfectly logical and fully in control of all emotions or urges.

The second key brain area is the limbic system, the emotional center and one of the oldest parts of the brain. The PFC is tasked with keeping it under control.

The limbic system, also called the primal brain, is further divided into four main parts: the basal ganglia, the anterior cingulate, the amygdala and the thalamus. It’s responsible for our most basic survival needs, like escaping predators.

So when you encounter something threatening, like a lion, your amygdala sets off an alarm that tells you to fight it or run away: a fight-or-flight reaction.

These emotional reactions helped our ancestors survive, but they can go too far in the modern world. If your amygdala takes over your PFC, you won’t be able to calm down or think rationally. Negative emotions like anxiety and fear will take over instead.

So in order for your brain to function well, you need a healthy balance between your PFC and limbic system. Let’s take a closer look at how that can go wrong.

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