Your brain's most important job

From 7½ Lessons
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A note for The Half-Lesson, "Your Brain Is Not for Thinking," in Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context from page 10‌ is:

Your brain’s most important job is to control your body—to manage allostasis—by predicting energy needs before they arise so you can efficiently make worthwhile movements and survive.

Many scientists are now convinced that a brain's most important job is to control the systems of a body. One take on this is to focus on the brain's role in controlling complex motor movements in the body (which implies a need to control the body's inner systems, like the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, the endocrine system, etc., on which motor movements depend; for example, see this informative and amusing lecture).

Another take is to suggest that brain's evolved to control the internal coordination of cells (and eventually, bodily systems) to allow for movement. For an engaging discussion on this topic, see pp. 22–27 in Peter Godfrey-Smith's book.[1] For a more scholarly discussion, see this reference.[2]


  1. Godfrey-Smith, Peter. 2016. Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea and the Deep Origins of Consciousness. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  2. Jekely, Gaspar, Fred Keijzer, and Peter Godfrey-Smith. 2015. "An Option Space for Early Neural Evolution." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 370: 20150181.