The Four Cerebral Functions


As discussed in the previous section, all people the world over utilize two basic mental functions for engaging life PERCEPTION and THOUGHT and everyone has two methods for employing each OBSERVE or IMAGINE, and PERSONALLY or IMPERSONALLY.

Here, we examine the Brain Type terms for these four cerebral functions. These terms represent, in the purest form, what is taking place from a Brain Type perspective, and they are crucial to understanding how the 16 inborn designs correlate to science and the brain.

How One Perceives the Outside World

EMPIRICAL (E) or CONCEPTUAL (C)

These indicate which senses you naturally use first the five senses to OBSERVE (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) or the sixth sense your IMAGINATION or intuition. Are you more interested in reality, what actually is observable and measurable?  Or are you fascinated by the possibilities in a situation, following hunches, imagining what could be instead of what is? Do you find yourself focused on the “here-and-now,” or does your mind wander off into daydreams? Do you walk through the forest examining the detailed variety of flora and fauna, or do you float above the trees, seeing “the big picture?” These examples are rather superficial but you get the point. Very few people are “all the way” one way or the other. We all access each dimension. However, we are also each “wired” in such a way that we innately prefer one over the other in the majority of situations as we live our lives. In order to keep this simple for now, try to think of how you or somebody you know is “more often than not.”

The Empirical (E) lives in the real world of the present. Empiricals are pragmatic and enjoy impressions from their environment taken in through the five senses.

They’re observant and factual. They are most interested in the immediate usefulness of knowledge, and they tend to shun the theoretical. One of their questions is, “Will it work?”

Empiricals go through life trusting the tangible, the visible. They pay attention to detail and follow directions step by step. Direct conversation is their style, generally saying what they mean and interpreting what they hear and read literally.

Conceptual (C), while associated with Jung’s “intuition,” should not be confused with common notions of that word. Conceptual is the reliance upon one’s own insights into the world of possibilities, concepts, significance, absorbing information. In other words, the ability to easily imagine.

The Conceptual enjoys symbols, daydreaming, and mental gymnastics that focus on the future. For the Conceptual, the here and now takes second place to the past and future. Facts are useful only to develop patterns that lead to further discoveries or that support thoughts and ideas already held. The driving force inside the Conceptual is to invent and create. C’s are more apt to “read into things” and “read between the lines.”  

Therefore, the Conceptual who is permitted to develop this giftedness is the dealer in ideas the inventor, the novel writer, the research scientist, the journalist, the movie director.

In contrast to conventional psychological type theory, Brain Type analysis has found that Conceptuals approximate over half of the U.S. population far more than commonly believed. These Conceptuals (especially those who are Back-brain dominant, which we’ll get to shortly) often feel out of step in school until they reach college, which is more Conceptual-oriented and leaves more Empiricals behind.

How One Processes Information

ANIMATE (A) or INANIMATE (I)

Next, remember that there are two ways that we process the information we take in either PERSONALLY or IMPERSONALLY. Decisions must inevitably be made, and people find themselves most comfortable making them based on either a personal basis their Animate (A) function, or on an impersonal basis their Inanimate (I) function.

One person may choose an impersonal, objective approach that seems to be clear and logical. Another person may be prone to “feel a situation out” and then decide based on personal, subjective values. The latter usually places more emphasis on how the decision will affect the people involved. The first person would be declared an Inanimate and the second an Animate.

Here we have a major point of contention between opposite Brain Types. In fact, conventional typological theory associates the term “feeler” with Animate and “thinker” with Inanimate. Well, Inanimate “thinkers” certainly have feelings and Animate “feelers” do think How do we know? All brains possess both of these in their neural networks, but as we already touched upon, each person is born stronger in one function over the other. This explains why people often do not speak the same language. People dominant in the Animate function possess what can be described as a high degree of emotional intelligence. Those dominant in the Inanimate function possess a high degree of logical precision. In a situation affecting both Inanimate and Animate, these areas of specialty in decision-making often clash.

Both Inanimate and Animate functions are rational processes, and both are necessary. In dealing with objective matters, numbers, and principles, we need the logical Inanimate thought process. In dealing with people and animals (living creatures), the Animate process is generally the most effective function. Unfortunately, many of life’s dilemmas involve both realms, which necessitates wisdom in properly combining the two.

Summary of the Four Functions

You now have learned the four Brain Type terms for the innate cerebral functions that have been introduced and discussed throughout the last two chapters:

EA – Empirical Animate: the Dove, who OBSERVES PERSONALLY and excels in gross motor skills.

EI – Empirical Inanimate: the Hawk, who OBSERVES IMPERSONALLY and excels in fine motor skills.

CA – Conceptual Animate: the Stork, who  IMAGINES PERSONALLY and excels in speech and hearing.

CI – Conceptual Inanimate: the Owl, who IMAGINES IMPERSONALLY and excels in voice and breathing.