Monkey brain – By @carlyillston

By Carly Illston


Monkey brain 


Every decision you have ever made has led you to this exact moment, sitting here, reading my blog post. Thatʼs quite a scary thought. Will my decision to have shredded wheat over toast affect every subsequent decision I will ever make? If we listened to Bandersnatch, the answer would be yes. But the truth is, we canʼt possibly exactly know how our everyday decisions will affect the course of our life. But we can be aware of how we are making these decisions. 

Today we had the honour of meeting Ben the Buddhist, a longtime member of SCA 

faculty and just a really quite remarkable human. He taught us about the human brain (the For Dummies version, of course) and which parts of the brain are responsible for certain actions. 

The Motherboard is located in the front part of the brain and is responsible for problem solving, memory, language, judgement, and many other extremely important processes. It really is like a computer, and is referred to as the “Human” part of the brain. 

On the flip side, the part of the brain responsible for survival, drive, fight or flight and instinct is referred to as the primal brain, or as Ben called it, the “Monkey” brain. 

Weʼve all been in the middle of a screaming match with our parents, and realised in the middle that we donʼt even remember why we are angry anymore. We just know that we are. You can thank your monkey brain for this. The monkey brain is aggressive, reacts on impulse and gut feelings. It isnʼt always rational. In fact, it isnʼt rational by definition. We need to make sure we are communicating and making decisions using our human brain. But it can be incredibly difficult in the moment to consciously engage the human side of your brain, and talk yourself down. 

Ben taught us that branding exists for the monkey brain. Had a human brain been fully responsible for making fashion choices, it would look for study, comfortable, supportive clothes and trainers. It doesnʼt care about brands or trends or runways. But the monkey brain is lapping all of that up. The monkey brain makes decisions based on emotion, and gut reactions, so it has become widely accepted in Advertising that you need to sell to the monkey part of the brain. 

While both parts of the brain are close in proximity, they  cannot operate efficiently at the same time. So in any given moment, you are either thinking like a monkey, or thinking like a human. 

So how can we stay human? 

We need to learn to be mindful. To keep the monkey locked in its cage, until that moment that you see a creepy guy coming up behind you in the alleyway and need to get the hell out of there. 

Mindfulness will be increasingly important as the term goes on, especially when we start getting partnered up. We need to be aware of our actions and reactions, and make sure we are staying human. Be open to new ideas, donʼt get stuck on a thought just because you came up with it, and above all, stay human. If we really are the sum of all our decisions, make sure theyʼre coming from the right place. 

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