5.1 The three centers

The three brain centers
The three brain centers in one feedback loop

The human brain is a three-in-one system that interacts with the world in a feedback loop – action followed by a result that alters our state, e.g. you eat what tastes good to allay hunger. In the picture, the main brain feedback loop in red has the three control centers in green that evolved over millions of years to manage it:

The moving center packs in over half the nerves of the brain!
  1. Moving. In the hind-brain right next to spinal cord, this center specializes in complex actions. It is said to be primitive but over half the nerves in the brain are packed in here! It learns motor skills like riding a bicycle.
  2. Emotional. Based in the mid-brain, this center interprets body states like pain to give emotions like fear. It remembers these states via the autonomic nervous system, e.g. fear activates a cascade of hormones to increase heart rate and breathing, ready for fight or flight.
  3. Intellect. Based in the higher cortex, this center specializes in pattern analysis and higher functions like language, thought and planning. Its weakness is that this most complex part of the brain also the slowest.


Only the moving center can learn a fast motor skill like riding a motorcycle

The brain has three ways to handle any situation and on a motorcycle you need to get it right! All the centers are good at what they do, but its no good trying to bang in a nail with a saw. The emotional center is good for people, the intellect can handle complex patterns, but only the moving center can learn a fast motor skill like riding a motorcycle. For more detail see Paul Gillis’s excellent e-book. This is NOT Triune theory, that the human brain contains a “reptile brain” inside a “mammal brain” inside a human brain. We only have one brain – the human brain. The moving center is no more a reptile brain than your hand is a “monkey hand”. The human brain today is state of the art – there is no “old” brain – and the moving center is the best at what it does.

The three human domains
The three domains

According to psychology, the brain divides its work up into cognitive, affective and motor domains – in common parlance head, heart and hands. Just as a community might have a university area, a leisure area and a production area, so the brain has different areas for different specialties. When riding a motorcycle, you get to decide what each part does:

Do your thinking before, not during, events
  1. Intellect. The intellect is too slow for real-time motorcycle riding but it can predict accident risks. It needs time to work, so do your thinking before, not during, events.
  2. Emotions. The emotions can kick in at any time with fear or anger but you dont want that. When riding keep the emotions passive, because getting emotional doesn’t help.
  3. Moving. The moving center is the master of space-time movement. It is the only part of your brain that can ride effectively.
Three feedback loops in one
The brain is three feedback loops in one

The brain is three feedback loops in one, so any center can affect things at any time. It works best when each part, physical, emotional and intellectual, does what it is good at. When riding a motorcycle, the primary control is in the moving center (in black in the diagram). The emotions (red) and intellect (blue) play supporting roles and must not interfere with the moving center controlling the bike. The brain works best when the three parts work together.

The next section describes the movement center that rides a motorcycle.