(504) 452-5937 1799 Stumpf Blvd. Building 5, Suite 1, Terrytown, LA 70056
(504) 452-5937 1799 Stumpf Blvd. Building 5, Suite 1, Terrytown, LA 70056

The Two Story Brain: The “Upstairs” and “Downstairs” of Your Mind

Have you ever said something unkind to a loved one during a heated discussion before you could stop yourself or been so upset your heart started racing and you couldn’t think straight? Or maybe you’ve counted to ten, taken several deep breaths and suddenly felt calmer and more relaxed?

These are common experiences, and today, thanks to science, we have some insight into exactly what’s going on with our bodies and our brains, which can help us avoid saying those unkind words or learn to feel more relaxed in the future!

Your Two Story Brain

One way to think about the brain is that it has an upstairs and a downstairs. The downstairs (the limbic system) perceives danger and responds by telling the body to ramp up the hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, and that we need to run away or put up a fight with something that wants to hurt us.

The problem, though, is that when the downstairs brain gets going the upstairs brain turns off. And it’s the upstairs part of our brain (the cerebral cortex) that is responsible for reason, logic, and language – all the things we need if we’re going to effectively communicate our thoughts and feelings.

Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson’s helps us understand the brain in a simple way where it is divided into the upstairs (complex functions) and downstairs brain (basic functions), like a house.
Shutdown to Startup

The next time you’re in a discussion and feel your heart starting to race, your breath getting shallow, and a keyed up sensation enveloping your body, STOP. That’s your downstairs brain taking over. Instead, take a few deep breaths or think about something peaceful, which will give your body time to let your upstairs brain come back online so you can continue having a productive and meaningful discussion!

Here to Help

We can strengthen your ability to use the power of your “upstairs brain.” Contact Maison Vie for more information.