Physiology of Thought

Downtown Gatlinburg from the Space Needle
Creative Commons License photo credit: Stacy Blackman

On a physiological basis, my understanding of how thought works in the brain is as follows: thoughts send electrical impulses to the amygdala, that tiny pea-size brain center located in the back brain; the amygdala is where thoughts are converted to emotion; from the amygdala those emotional impulses travel down the spine and throughout the nervous system causing physiological responses.

In other words: Thoughts generate emotion which then triggers a physical response (behavior).

Blessings, Lynne

6 Responses

  1. You left out a few things that are relevant and might want to adjust your description. A thought seems to be an amalgamation of activities of several parts of the brain. For instance a sensory input can be adjusted by the parahippocampal cortex to allow a central portion to be put into context which creates a different concept than the sensory input would have by itself. Or, the occipital cortex has reciprocal input with several other areas that allow it to extend a “what if” quality to the forming “thought”. And, while it certainly is true that parts of the amygdala add emotional aspects (to a degree that the amygdala can shut down activity of other areas of the brain) people without those portions can form thoughts. And since people can add spatial concepts (entorhinal cortex especially) thoughts the emotional additions may not be as pervasive in all thoughts. Sadly, for simplicity sake, there is no central area that acts like a viewer in front of a theater screen taking in the image and adding the sounds and smells of the environment to make final decisions on actions and responses from the “thought”.

    1. Thank you Daniel for your further elaboration on my description.I appreciate the added information. Blessings, Lynne

  2. Thoughts are electrical impulses that surround us. There are no new or original stressful thoughts,’ says Byron Katie. Every thought has been picked up on and thought millions of times since the beginning of mankind. They pass through our consciousness without a problem until we take possession of one by believing it.
    We adopt as our own the thoughts that fits with our particular story about life. Once we believe that thought, we accept it with no questions asked. We then feel the feelings it generates and we react accordingly. When we feel and react as if the thought is true, we act in ways that will end up proving it to us.
    We are not our thoughts! We are an extension of the very Source energy that breathes us. Feel its essence in your hands, pulsing and alive, right now. We are pure consciousness – not the thoughts we adopt. We are that which observes without attachment. We are that in you that asks the question, “who am I?”

    Hope this helps.

    I realized I’d left out a couple of things in this post – I failed to credit Katie, and I left out the word “stressful” in the second sentence.

    An additional thought: As humans, we express the same thoughts that have been thought throughout history; we may present them in an endless variety, uniquely arranged according to our own beliefs, but our thoughts are not original with us. We even pick up on the thoughts being thought in a particular environment (a nightclub, or a church, for instance) and, if we don’t question them, we may take them on as our own. This is why we are often cautioned to choose carefully the places and people we associate with.

    Anyway, I apologize for the omission and have entered my corrections as stated above.

  3. How then do thoughts come about?Sometimes i have stories in my head that try to explain situations in my life that cause pain and unease but the stories keep coming up time and again and there is always an emotional reaction either towards myself or others…I feel bad or feel resentful and seperated from everyone else.
    Do i control the thoughts i have or the stories that run through my mind?If these stories cause a negative feeling reaction as they sometimes do or at other times a positive feeling where is the truth in all these…where is me?

    1. We are a point of light in a universe of light, our gift is we are free to illuminate what we wish, choose well.

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