The brain stem is the oldest part of our brain. We share it with birds, and reptiles.  It controls the basics: hunger, temperature control, fight-or-flight fear responses, defending territory, keeping safe.

It is often called the reptilian brain and is always on the alert for life-threatening events

We "downshift" when responding to life-threatening conditions

Because it is the "Flight or Fight" level of our brain, action takes place without thinking

Anything that is a threat - real or perceived - causes our brain to "downshift"

When "downshifting" occurs, learning can not take place

Reptilian

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Bryn Evans 2003