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Top Brain/Bottom Brain thinking




" This research reveals that the top-brain system uses information about the surrounding environment (in combination with other sorts of information, such as emotional reactions and the need for food or drink) to figure out which goals to try to achieve. It actively formulates plans, generates expectations about what should happen when a plan is executed and then, as the plan is being carried out, compares what is happening with what was expected, adjusting the plan accordingly. The bottom-brain system organizes signals from the senses, simultaneously comparing what is being perceived with all the information previously stored in memory. It then uses the results of such comparisons to classify and interpret the object or event, allowing us to confer meaning on the world. The top- and bottom-brain systems always work together, just as the hemispheres always do. Our brains are not engaged in some sort of constant cerebral tug of war, with one part seeking dominance over another. (What a poor evolutionary strategy that would have been!) Rather, they can be likened roughly to the parts of a bicycle: the frame, seat, wheels, handlebars, pedals, gears, brakes and chain that work together to provide transportation. But here's the key to our theory: Although the top and bottom parts of the brain are always used during all of our waking lives, people do not rely on them to an equal degree. To extend the bicycle analogy, not everyone rides a bike the same way. Some may meander, others may race."






"Our theory predicts that people fit into one of four groups, based on their typical use of the two brain systems. Depending on the degree to which a person uses the top and bottom systems in optional ways, he or she will operate in one of four cognitive modes: Mover, Perceiver, Stimulator and Adaptor.

Mover mode results when the top- and bottom-brain systems are both highly utilized in optional ways. Oprah Winfrey, who overcame a difficult childhood to create a formidable TV and publishing empire, illustrates such behavior. According to the theory, people who habitually rely on Mover mode are most comfortable in positions that allow them to plan, act and see the consequences of their actions. They are well suited to being leaders.
Others who seem to typify the Mover mode include: the Wright Brothers, who incorporated lessons from their many failures into designing the successive models that finally led to the first airplane; Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who brought the U.S. out of the Great Depression and led the country during World War II; and the late Nascar chairman Bill France Jr., who began by parking cars and working the concession stands at his father's speedway and eventually grew the sport into a multibillion-dollar business.

Perceiver mode results when the bottom-brain system is highly utilized in optional ways but the top is not. Think of the Dalai Lama or Emily Dickinson. People who habitually rely on Perceiver mode try to make sense in depth of what they perceive; they interpret their experiences, place them in context and try to understand the implications.
But they don't make and execute grand plans. By definition, such people—including naturalists, pastors, novelists—typically lead lives away from the limelight. Those who rely on this mode often play a crucial role in a group; they can make sense of events and provide a bigger picture. In business, they are key members of teams, providing perspective and wisdom but not always getting credit.

Then there is Stimulator mode, which results when the top-brain system is highly utilized but the bottom is not. According to our theory, people who interact with the world in Stimulator mode often create and execute complex and detailed plans (using the top-brain system) but fail to register consistently and accurately the consequences of acting on those plans (using the bottom-brain system). They don't update or correct their plans when events unfold in unexpected ways.
Such people may be creative and original, able to think outside the box even when everybody around them has a fixed way of approaching an issue. At the same time, they may not always note when enough is enough. Their actions can be disruptive, and they may not adjust their behavior appropriately.
Examples of people who illustrate Stimulator mode would include Tiger Woods, who clearly makes ample use of his top-brain system but does not always respond well to the consequences of carrying out his plans, and the late social activist Abbie Hoffman, who effectively organized major protests in the 1960s but reacted poorly when some of his plans went off track.

Finally, there is Adaptor mode, which results when neither the top- nor the bottom-brain system is highly utilized in optional ways. People who think in this mode are not caught up in initiating plans, nor are they fully focused on classifying and interpreting what they experience. Instead, they become absorbed by local events and the immediate requirements of the situation. They are responsive and action-oriented and tend to "go with the flow." Others see them as free-spirited and fun to be with."
 Well I can definitely say I am in Perceiver mode. Definitely one for trying to make sense of everything, in depth, and interpreting my experiences, and understanding the overall context of that experience. But... yeah, not so great with the planning. Not my forte. I admit to it because I have to force myself to be organized and to even make simple plans and remind myself to do them. Anyway, the very fact this sort of thing fascinates me is likely because of this very personality construct or mode of thinking... I like to think about personality theories, how they apply to me, how that might explain the way I interpret the world, how others interpret the world differently and how this effects interactions. Fun stuff. 

Obviously it is also why I want to make sense of the pain experience. I like to hear theories about it. I want to understand what is going on in the brain. I want to know about how different therapies work and why they believe that affects the brain in different ways. I want to understand my own experience and am constantly interpreting it. What it means to be in chronic pain. What it means to be chronically ill. What both of those mean to society. How my interpretation effects my reality. 


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