How Your Brain Stores Certain Experiences

How Your Brain Stores Certain Experiences…

Have you ever noticed that certain experiences in your life can still “trigger” you, long after the event or experience happened? If you take a closer look when you become triggered, you will probably notice that your emotions are still very much present. That is your “clue” that the original experience was encoded in a different part of your brain than your normal everyday experiences.

99.9% of what most of us experience everyday is “stored” in areas of the brain that are not attached to emotions or a sense of our well-being being threatened. Rather, most of our daily experiences are rather matter-of-fact and dry. When, however, our experiences or perceptions feel as if our sense of well-being is at stake, then the “gatekeeper” of the brain can send that experience/perception to a storage center deeper in the evolutionarily older part of the brain, or “limbic” area.   

Evolutionarily, because that part of the brain is quite ancient, the evolutionarily newer parts of our brain were not yet present. So, functions such as thinking, understanding, reasoning, judging, etc., are simply not a part of that limbic area’s functioning. What ARE strongly a part of that area of the limbic brain,  are emotions and bodily senses that are related to the Fight/Flight/Freeze mechanisms. Therefore, experiences and perceptions that seem threatening to our sense of well-being can be stored in these limbic areas.  

That would take us back to the beginning of this article and summary…When you currently become emotionally triggered when certain things remind you of past events/perceptions, there is a good chance that past event was stored in your limbic brain area. For whatever reason, your mind interpreted that event/perception as somehow threatening to your sense of well-being. It was, therefore, stored in the limbic area, where it remains attached to the emotions and bodily sensations of Fight/Flight/and/or Freeze modes; even into this current time. Every time you are reminded of this past experience, the old emotions and bodily sensations arise with the memory.

©Shelley Uram 2011