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            Newsletter of Project Renaissance and Win Wenger



April 2003





*  Quote of the Month

*  Announcements

*  Events

*  FEATURE ARTICLE: "The Limbic Brain" - by Win Wenger

*  Comments & Feedback

*  Links - archives, back issues, homepage

*  Reader Questionnaire






"The highest function of the teacher consists not so much in

imparting knowledge as in stimulating the pupil in its love and

pursuit."  - Henri Frederic Amiel






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to hear from you and to give you much food for thought. Back issues

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Free monthly meetings of High Thinktank...Open to the public.

Upcounty Regional Services Center --

12900 Middlebrook Rd., Germantown, MD.

April meeting:  Thursday, April 17, 2003.

Focus: A new, dynamite combination technique for problem-solving.

Check the Project Renaissance website calendar

for details and directions, at




DOUBLE FESTIVAL XII - November 2003...


Mark your calendars now for Project Renaissance's annual double

conference on Creative Problem-Solving and Accelerated Learning:

Friday-Saturday-Sunday, November 14-16, 2003

followed by Trainer Training, November 17-18, 2003

at a private facility in Pasadena, Maryland


Watch the website,

for further details and for Call for Presentations.




Feature Article:


                        BALANCING ACT:

             Controlling Your Limbic Brain's Controls

                      on What You Can Do

                     by Win Wenger, Ph.D.

                President, Project Renaissance


ABSTRACT:  The limbic brain directs the cortex, and directs human

intellectual and learning experience and performance in various

ways - ways consistent with the limbic's biological and bio-

evolutionary role in complex homeostasis (described here in Part

One). In this context, we have discovered why "exceptional gifted-

ness" is "exceptional," and how to make it far more frequent. In

Part Two (May 2003 issue) we will examine a number of intervention

points where changes in educative procedure, relating to limbic

brain functions, can lead to profound educational and personal




         --- Part One: How the Limbic System Works ----





    Please hold one hand as a clenched fist. Wrap your open other

hand over top of your fist. Your open hand represents the cerebral

cortex in your brain; your clenched fist represents your limbic

brain.  Your cortex crowns your limbic.


    The limbic is not a single organ but a cluster of distinct

organs, each with specific and diverse functions. The three organs

that generate and control emotions - the thalamus, hypothalamus,

and the amygdala - are part of the region and aggregate of organs

we call the limbic brain. So are the physical appetite-controlling

structures of the brain, located in the limbic region.





    The limbic brain is our main "computer." The cortex in effect

operates as supplementary memory chips supporting the main

computer. The conscious mind is associated with only a tiny part

of the cortex, but the brain operates as an interactive system.


    From Ordovician swamp days if not earlier, the limbic brain

maintained balance in our lives, and in our bodies, as complex

homeostatic equilibrium. In the body, as a master thermostat in

a multi-story building, the limbic brain regulates not only

temperature but fluid levels (thirst), energy levels and intake

(hunger), endocrine and hormone levels, in the trillion-and-one

complex systems that comprise a living physical body.


    It's fascinating that the limbic brain also regulates our

lives, not only our physical bodies. One small example: what if

alcohol, nicotine, an opiate or other psychoactive drug, pushes

the "thermostat" setting out of position? Equilibrium is then

redefined and a drug dependency set up which is tough to lick.

It can be very difficult to get the thermostat restored to its

proper setting, once the limbic brain accommodates to the

presence of that new substance.


    Another example:  People with poor self-image may meet

unexpected success and then do all sorts of things ostensibly

to improve their performance but in effect "blowing" their

situation, to return to comfortably familiar failure. Such

behavior doesn't make rational sense to onlookers, but it makes

sense from the perspective of the limbic brain.


    A sensori-motor example: A normal person, in a car accident,

goes through his windshield and suffers severe brain damage. 

Equilibrium (rest position) for the body gets thereby redefined.

A month later he is so physically distorted that the palm of his

hand is twisted flat against his wrist, a kind of distortion

seen with long-term brain-damage sufferers.  Proprioception has

found a new and grotesque equilibrium.


    An example involving the eyes: near-sightedness, far-

sightedness, and astigmatism are regarded as problems with the

shape of the eyeballs. It isn't. What controls the shape of the

eyeballs? - Muscles surrounding the eyes. What controls those

muscles? The brain. Near-, far- or astigmatic-sightedness is a

function of how the brain defines resting-point or equilibrium

for the eyes. Correct the brain's definition of equilibrium and

correct your eyesight.





   Our limbic brain, master equilibriator of complexity and

homeostasis in living systems, performs as an athletic virtuoso

balancing act. Attempting to restore balance, to prevent a fall,

elicits from each of us a swifter, surer and more agile response

than we normally are able to manifest. Even someone crippled and

arthritic, if starting to fall, will usually by reflex suddenly

reach out in an effort to restore balance. We can't always

succeed in preventing a fall, but an off-balance condition

elicits more response than our normal capacity.


    Emotion is the added energy and response the limbic pulls

into play in its effort to restore balance in an unbalanced

situation. Emotion mobilizes the system to its best efforts.


    Living has gotten more complicated since the Jurassic. The

limbic now has auxiliary memory cells in the cortex. They expand

the frame of reference and the span of awareness in which our

limbic mainframe works.


    Although the cortex works much slower than the limbic, it

brings to bear far more perception upon given stimuli and frames

of reference. It processes more detail, it recognizes patterns,

and it anticipates the unfolding of events within those patterns. 

It provides a focusing system which allows extra resources to

respond to stimuli. The focusing usually takes place in the left

temporal lobe, the main area from which we are "conscious."

Pattern-recognition occurs in the opposite, right, temporal lobe;

anticipation of pattern and outcome are mainly in the frontal



    Usually portrayed as opposites, the two temporal lobes are

actually much more alike than they are different. They are organs

specialized for making sense of things, though they follow

different methods for doing so. Consistency is important to both.

The left seeks consistency with linear logic and rationalizes

things; the right is driven to align other perceptions with

recognized patterns. In this regard it has a special relationship

to the limbic brain.  As we shall see later in terms of amygdala

functions, "reading" the body in relation to ongoing contexts

determines the readiness of the system to act in those contexts.


- Win Wenger <>


[To be concluded in the next issue, where we will explore how

methods that tap into limbic channels and extend those experiences

into verbal description may offer a pathway to hidden genius.]




To send feedback privately to the author, email to Win Wenger at



To send your comments about this article to The Stream, write to:



To post your feedback or promote a discussion of this topic:






Jacob: <>

As far as fractals go, I have been checking them out since about

1988 when Mandelbrot came to the university I was going to. As

soon as I saw the images I knew that there was something powerful

in them, I get the feeling that they are a link or bridge that will

allow us to see beyond our current understanding. This is similar

to the feeling I get with moire patterns. I have not read a lot

about image-streaming but it seems to fit into this intuitive form

of investigation.


Fractals seem to open up mathematics in a way that focuses on the

stuff they don't understand as opposed to focusing on creating

hard and fast rules of the universe. This way of thinking points

me in the direction of things that people consider to be problems.

Moires would be an example of this. Most designers would consider

moires a problem that had to be overcome and would not think about

it much past that. In the practical world we could not focus too

much on these things or it would slow us down, but in the world of

concept development we could see these "problems" as road signs to

new thinking.


There is an example of this in cognition as well.  The Panare

Indians of the Oronoco basin talk about being able to receive or

maybe perceive social/cultural information or information about

themselves through music, dance, and geometric patterns. so in the

same way that moving two screens over each other creates an extra

movement (the moire), the singing, dancing, and geometric patterns

of the Panare create an extra cognition.




Kate: <>

I think you're right. Image-streaming accesses the subconscious

patterns of our awareness and sensory integration. Our brains are

pattern-seeing and pattern-making devices. We are all part of the

universal lattice, little coherent bundles replicating locally

what operates globally.


There has grown an enormous interest in such subjects, particularly

among mathematicians. It spreads into Chaos theory, recursive

patterns, self-replication, tilings and tessellations. I've always

found it intriguing that the nucleus of an atom is ringed by

electron orbits the way the sun is ringed by planets.


The first exposure I had to moire patterns was when, as a graphic

artist, I had occasion to put screens (dot patterns) into illus-

trations to create a gray shade. I noticed that when I overlaid a

couple of sheets of dot patterns, they replicated a giant version

of the dots, and depending on what relative angle they had, the

mega-dots would change size. I've been watching for recurring

patterns ever since, and it works even in human dynamics, from the

pecking order in a family unit to the governmental structure of a

large country, and to the global level.




Jacob: <>

I see feedback in sound the same way. I have a question about

audio feedback, if there is an increase in the amount of energy

being used during feedback?  There must be. If so, is the

relationship between the amount of energy used to increase volume

during feedback the same as energy used to increase volume by just

turning it up.




Kate: <>

That's a very interesting question. I don't think any new energy

is created from nothingness, but through some actions energy can

be shifted around. Audio feedback refers specifically to human

ears, right? Sound can be amplified. That converts potential

energy to kinetic energy, borrowing it from the material in the

amplifier, bouncing off surfaces, setting the inner ear membranes

to vibrating. I don't know how you could measure the energies

involved, and whether feedback loops draw as much energy as

turning up the volume. Do any of our readers have ideas on this?








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