Professor Prefrontal vs Caveman Primitive

We make 35,000 decisions a day.  They are made with two different parts of the brain: either the prefrontal cortex or your primitive brain. Can you guess which one should be “in charge” most of the time?

I think about my primitive brain as a caveman (or Thor in the Avengers: Endgame).  I call her the Caveman.

I think about my prefrontal cortex as the professor (or Thor in all of the other Avengers movies).  I call her the Professor.

  • Caveman just wants to keep us alive: always looking for danger.  She seeks pleasure, avoids pain, and conserves energy.
  • Professor uses her scientific method in decision making always reaching for our goals.
  • Caveman wants immediate gratification.
  • Professor wants to achieve the goal we set despite what is in front of us.
  • Caveman says we need to eat the donut right now (or we might die).
  • Professor says that donut won’t help us achieve anything.
  • Caveman is extremely verbal: all that chattering going on in your head is all her.  She is very persuasive. Never underestimate her. She can yell louder and longer, because she is very motivated by your survival.
  • Professor will state her case factually and expect you to make the correct decision. She doesn’t even here Caveman’s rattle.
  • For Caveman, every decision is urgent and frenzied, based on the moment.
  • For Professor, every decision is based on a plan for a future result.
  • Caveman is your urges.
  • Professor is your reasoning.

I love Caveman.  She does a great job of keeping me alive.  But, there just aren’t that many lions running the town these days.  She is more into sugar and flour – getting us the biggest dopamine hits she can find.  

I love Professor.  She keeps pushing me forward toward my goals, becoming better than I was yesterday.

These days, Caveman isn’t really serving me in the food department.  I need Professor’s emotionless viewpoint on food. She will get me where we want to be… in the ideal body.

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