You & Your Brain

Getting to know yourself and more specifically to know your brain will help you to manage your reaction to stressful situations. There are 3 key players in the brain that determine how you will respond to everything that happens around you: the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala and the hippocampus. Learning how to help your brain to tell the difference between true emergencies and stressful situations will help you to better handle every situation and have more time to enjoy life.

Pre-frontal cortex (pree-FRUN-tuhl KOR-teks) (Blue area in the picture as above):
the prefrontal cortex or PFC, is helping you to make thoughtful decisions, doing careful calculations, talking through a problem, and staying focused on what you are doing.
Here’s the only issue: the PFC gets information only when the amygdala is calm.

The amygdala (uh-MIG-duh-luh) (2 pink areas in the picture as above):
the amygdala is programmed to keep you safe at all costs. It regulates and block
information from going to your prefrontal cortex, so you can react in a flash. In case of serious danger, the amygdala will help you run, freeze or fight back.
When you feel safe and happy, the amygdala will pass info on to the PFC so you can think.
Problem: the amygdala can’t tell a stressful situation from a true emergency, and it cause you to react without thinking.
The PFC passes on to the hippocampus anything that is worth remembering.

The hippocampus (hih-puh-KAM-puhs) (2 green areas in the picture as above):
it creates, stores, and processes all important facts and memories the PCF passes on to it, such as texting shortcuts, your schedule, and the smell of freshly baked biscuits.


Mindful practice can help keep the amygdala in check so that you can think clearly. Deep breathing, visualization, focus will calm your amygdala and help you to think and remember clearly.

Think as if you were trying to force your practical brain (PFC) to take over your emotional brain (amygdala) by practicing activity that require your PFC to work hard: when you are focusing on counting your breath in and out, that oblige you
to use your PFC and as such to calm your amygdala.