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The Physiology of Type

By Katherine Benziger, Ph.D.


Part 2:

The Physiology of Jung’s Four Functions & Their Organization

So much has been discovered in the past ten to twenty years that it is now possible to be relatively certain about the physiological bases for Dr. Jung’s Typology. To start with , one can begin to understand the physiology of Jung’s four functions, by developing a working familiarity with the following physiological terms:

  • Functional Specialization
  • Werneke’s Area
  • Broca’s Area
  • Frontal Lobes
  • Posterior Cortical Convexity (Parietal, Occipital and Temporal Lobes)
  • Electrical Resistance
  • Cortical Electrical Efficiency
  • Preference
  • Competency Development
  • PASS (Prolonged Adaptive Stress Syndrome)
  • Corpus Collosum
  • Hippocampus
  • Limbic System
  • Amydala
  • Hypothalamus

Subsequently, by juxtaposing what we now understand about the human brain and nervous system with the nature, pattern and structure of Jung’s Typology,

With only a preliminary understanding of these terms and an understanding of Dr. Carl Jung’s typological model and observations, one can quite readily come to not only a new appreciation for the accuracy or Dr.Jung’s observations, but as well, an extended understanding of their implications for the individual seeking to thrive and for professionals – therapists, career counselors, life planning counselors, marriage counselors - seeking to counsel that individual with support and guidance.

Indeed, as you will soon appreciate, given adequate grounding in contemporary neuroscience, one can understand clearly how:

  1. Jung’s four Functions are rooted in four distinct areas of the cortex;

  2. Jung’s observation that each of us has one and only one Natural Lead Function which functions as our personal compass or "true north";

  3. Jung’s appreciation for the fact that each Function has two Auxiliary Functions which serve as dependable helpers.

  4. Jung’s observation concerning the identification of one’s greatest Natural Weakness - that if a person’s Natural Lead is Feeling, one will have the greatest difficulty developing and effectively using Thinking; or if one’s Natural Lead is Intuition, one will have the greatest difficulty in developing and effectively using Sensation.

  5. The difference between the Feeling Function and Emotions.

  6. Jung’s belief that Falsification of Type was real and a serious threat to a person’s physical and mental / emotional health.

With no further ado, then, let’s get into those all powerful terms, keeping in mind as we do that our current scientific knowledge of Brain Function is vastly more than Jung’s as a result of work done in the past 5 to 25 years, as the United States established and supported research to support "The Decade of the Brain". Moreover, today, our knowledge is greater because that research has been made much more powerful by technological breakthroughs which allow us to do: three- dimensional, distance sensing accurately and in detail.

  • Functional Specialization: This concept is used in physiology the same way it is used in business and in many other areas of life, including Jungian psychology, in which Jung himself identifies and focuses on four functions, each with a different gifts. Functional Specialization indicates that in the make up of the whole there are different elements each of which has its own specialized task or contribution. Implied in this concept is the understanding that each such task or contribution is best performed or done by the element designed or built specifically to accomplish that particular task. It is a concept which is well understood by those who work with tools and machines and whose experience with these had led them to believe that the best tool for the job is the tool which was designed specifically for that job.

With respect to the human cortex, functional specialization is said to exist in that: (1) the cortex is clearly divided into four almost equal elements, in that each hemisphere or half is further divided by a central or rondalic fissure which separates the frontal lobe on each side from posterior portion of the hemisphere, today known as the posterior cortical convexity; (2) each of these four areas can be shown function differently; and (3) each contributes differently based on its unique specialized capabilities.

Significantly, among neuro-physiologists there exists some disagreement about functional specialization. Some researchers argue, when looking from a particular perspective, that the brain is also highly integrated and seemingly at times redundant. Auditory information is processed in many areas. Indeed, even music is processed in many areas. Moreover, language in come persons can be shown to involve all four regions of the cortex. The key to this discussion is that the cortex is both specialized and integrated, much as an assembly-line or a computer.

An example which is often sited to argue for integration is language. Yes, it is true that in some persons talking can involve sections of all four regions. This is true. However, it is also true that the integrated process of speaking a language involves the combining of highly predictable, specialized elements from each of the four regions. Speech itself, articulating words in a structured manner is managed by the Werneke area in the left frontal lobe. The vocabulary is processed by the area in the posterior left known as Broca’s area or the "language lump". The tonals which some people use to clarify or emphasize meaning (e.g. especially when humor such as sarcarasm is involved) are managed by the posterior right. And, the gestures which some people use to further enrich communication are managed by the right frontal lobe.

  • Broca’s Area: That portion of the Left Frontal Lobe which manages speech and the structure of language, named for the French surgeon who discovered it’s functional specialized contributions. Broca’s area manages the precision of articulation or enunciation.

  • Werneke’s Area: That portion of the Left Temporal Lobe, known as the language lump, where the vocabulary used in reading and writing is stored. Significantly, a large bundle of neurons which hard wire with Broca and Werneke Areas support the rapid and efficient communication between these two specific areas needing for human speech.

Of interest to those working with language as well as those seeking to better understand the physiological bases of Jung’s four functions and their unique contributions to life, is the fact that each of these well studied and understood areas in the left hemisphere has an area that is its counter part in the right hemisphere. Thus, for Broca’s Area in the Left Frontal Lobe, there is a comparable area in the Right Frontal Lobe, which can manage speech it’s left counter part is damaged, but which otherwise, will prove to excel at managing the "dance" of gestures which some people use to support or emphasize speech. And, for Werneke’s Area in the Left Temporal Lobe, there is a comparable area in the Right Temporal Lobe, which deals less with vocabulary and more with the tonal messages and facial expressions which support or contradict someone’s speech.

When exploring these four functionally specialized areas, one can also note that in the same way that the Broca Area on the Left is hard wired to the Werneke Area on the Left; the mirror image of Broca’s Area found in the Frontal Right is hard-wired to the mirror-image of Werneke’s Area in the Posterior Right. Moreover, there is a distinct bundle of neurons which hard wire Broca’s in the Left to it’s own mirror image in the Frontal Right; and Werneke’s in the Left to it’s own mirror image in the Posterior Right. Thus, when all aspects of language (vocabulary, speech, tonals/facials and gestures) are used in one communication, a person literally tends to be using his or her "whole brain."

  • Frontal Lobes: The frontal lobes functioning together are seen by many to be the abstract problem solving regions of the cortex. And, indeed, this statement is generally true—especially when one is contrasting the functional capabilities of these two regions with those of the posterior regions. Nonetheless, when looked at in detail and compared with each other, it is also clear that while actively solve problems, they excel at solving quite different problems. Moreover, this difference in "what they do well" is directly linked to key differences in how they function.

The frontal lobe on the left side seems to function in a manner which allows it to measure precisely and process logically. Mental tasks which we identify as: functional analysis, critical analysis, prioritizing, comparative analysis, cost/benefit analysis, identifying key factors, assigning a weight or value to each factor, identifying desirable strategic alliances, all of which use both logic and precise measurement, are readily accomplished by the frontal left, especially when the problem is one of correcting something that was at one time, but no longer is, functioning adequately; improving efficiency or functioning; fixing something that has been fixed before, successfully, making a logical, next-step improvement to an existing procedure, process or machine. As such, the frontal left lobe appears to be the home base for Jung’s Thinking Function.

By contrast the frontal lobe on the right side seems to function in a manner which allows it to see patterns and trends as well as use its imagination. Mental tasks which we identify as: pattern recognition, perception of trends, spatial rotation, creating or inventing new solutions -- all of which are readily accomplished by the frontal right, especially when the problem is one of which is difficult to solve, has never been solved before, involves change and dynamic systems, and or in which all the data can never be known. As such, the frontal right lobe appears to be the home base for the Function Jung called Intuition.

  • Posterior Cortical Convexity: A new name given to that portion of each hemisphere which is located behind each Frontal Lobe. In the middle of the 20th century, this area was known as the "Sensory Lobes" and it was believed that all incoming information came through the senses to these areas to be stored , so that the frontal lobes could "think about the information at some later point in time. Although the term sensory lobes is no longer used, the three portions of each posterior section are still referred to by name. Thus researchers discuss the specialized tasks of Parietal (having to do with touch), Occipital (having to do with sight) and Temporal (having to do with sound) Lobes of each hemisphere. Of interest to the casual observer is the fact that the posterior cortical convexity is almost equal in size to the frontal lobe. Thus for purposes of analysis, the human cortex is divided into four equally sized areas: the left frontal; the right frontal; the left posterior cortical convexity; and the right posterior cortical convexity.

In discussing this simple fact with Dr. Karl Pribram, former Director of Stanford’s Behavioral Research Labs, Dr. Pribram observed that: "The amount of space allocated to something in the brain, as well as its proximity to something else is always significant. Space is not wasted. Nor are two specialized areas placed right next to each other unless there is a functional connection."

  • Electrical Resistance: Any situation, chemical or structure which interrupts or otherwise impedes the flow of electricity through a particular pathway. Typically, more work or energy is required to flow through these paths with higher levels of resistance, simply in order to overcome the higher levels of resistance. Two known truths about resistance: 1) the work done to overcome higher levels of resistance is often observed as "heat"; and 2) generally, all else equal, energy, currents and rivers naturally flow along the path with the least resistance.

  • Cortical Electrical Efficiency: According to the work of Dr. Richard Haier of San Diego, the natural level of electrical resistance varies across the cortex, such that in one area a person’s cortex can be shown to have much higher level of resistance to the flow of thoughts than in another area of their cortex. Moreover, Haier’s research has shown repeatedly that most people have one area which enjoys a much lower level of electrical resistance – using only one one-hundredth the oxygen / energy - when compared with all the other areas of that person’s cortex. Thus, when the person is thinking with or using the one portion of their cortex which enjoys this markedly lower level of resistance, that person is using much less energy to think than they must use when thinking with the other areas of their brain. From a resource management or conservation perspective, we can observe that the person is being naturally efficient when using the area in which they enjoy a lowered level of cortical resistance. Whereas, they are being markedly inefficiently when thinking with any of the other areas.

  • Preference: The functionally specialized area of a person’s cortex which is fun and energizing for the person to use because it is highly efficient.

  • Competency Development: Cortically speaking, the repetition of any action can produce increased efficiency. The increased efficiency, however, even with Mastery, is one of only five to ten per cent. Thus practice and mastery are important, in that they save energy and guarantee a higher rate of success. Competencies developed in a person’s nonpreferred, inefficient areas, however, are not nearly as helpful for that person as competencies developed in their Natural Lead Function.

  • PASS – Prolonged Adaptive Stress Syndrome: The name given by Dr. Arlene Taylor to the syndrome found in persons who have been Falsifying Type for a extended period of time. The syndrome is similar to PTSD, but lacks a viral aspect and or any clear causative, traumatizing event, such as sexual assault. PASS includes: fatigue, hyper-vigilance, immune system suppression, memory impairment, altered brain chemistry, reduced frontal lobe function, discouragement or depression, and self-esteem problems.

  • Corpus Callosum: The neural network which hard-wires the right hemisphere to the left hemisphere. Or, more specifically, the neural network which hard wires the right frontal lobe to the left frontal lobe and the left posterior cortical convexity to the right posterior cortical convexity.

In noticing the natural bridges which exist in the cortex (the corpus collosum and the circuits of the communication areas), it is worth observing two facts: 1) the communication between the right and left hemispheres via the bridge formed by the corpus collosum is massive and easy when compared with the communication between each frontal lobe with the posterior cortical convexity, immediately behind it; and 2) both patterns of communication are easier than any diagonal communication as there are no diagonal hard-wires linking the Right Frontal Lobe with the Left Posterior Cortical Convexity or the Left Frontal with the Right Posterior Cortical Convexity.

  • Hippocampus: The hippocampus (or rather, "hippocampi" since there are two of them) lies tucked within the basal (temporal) lobes of the cerebral cortex. It appears to have two rather different functions, being responsible for adjusting moods and emotions to incoming information from the environment as well as playing a critical role in the process of memory formation. In this latter role (memory), the hippocampus is responsible for forming a memory of the part of the environment which has already been explored so that it may be distinguished from unexplored areas. Therefore, what activates this memory formation sequence (and turns on the hippocampus) is "novelty" in the environment. In addition, the hippocampus is involved in the laying down and retrieving of long term memories (though the specifics of this process are not, as yet, fully understood) and if the hippocampus and the amygdala are both damaged global anterograde amnesia results and no information can be committed to or retrieved from memory.

In its other capacity as mood adjuster, the hippocampus is usually inhibited by the neurotransmitter seratonin. When it is deprived of seratonin, which can be caused by temporal lobe epilepsy, hallucinagens, repetitive chanting, meditation, or marathon running among other things, the hippocampus fires wildly and loses its connection to "external reality". The result is the same kind of experience that characterizes right temporal lobe epilepsy: dream states, feelings of deja- and jamais-vu, a sense of "significance" and meaningfulness", cosmic insights, and the re-living of past experiences in vivid sensory detail. If such experiences appeal to you but have eluded you in the past, the solution to your problems may simply be to find ways of depriving your brain of seratonin.

  • Limbic System: The middle brain as identified in Paul MacLean's triune model. It is generally believed to be involved with the emotions, body temperature, and sex as well as with memory storage and retrieval. (See Appendix B in The Art of Using Your Whole Brain for a more detailed description.) In MacLean’s model, this area of the brain included the amygdala the the hypothalamus.

  • Amygdala: The amygdala (of which there are two) are involved in associative memory and, along with the hippocampus, in long-term memory storage and retrieval. Like the hypothalamus, they are part of both the pleasure and pain systems, although the pain component is by far the more significant. The amygdala are connected to aggression, and electrical stimulation of these areas will produce displays of excitement, rage, and fear. Although removal of the amygdala does cause a reduction in aggression, it also produces excessive sexual displaying and a loss of status in the social hierarchy.

  • Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus, which lies just below the thalamus, appears to be the master regulator of the autonomic nervous system. It controls body temperature, blood pressure, water levels, sex, appetite/food intake, and endocrine levels (through its control over the pituitary). The hypothalamus is also part of the pleasure and pain systems, depending on which half is stimulated. Lesions in the posterior hypothalamus produce an increase in aggressiveness, and electrical stimulation of this area generates a rage reaction and attack behaviors. Conversely, stimulation of the anterior hypothalamus produces pleasure reactions. Perhaps most importantly when considered in relation to human thinking, the hypothalamus appears to function not only as the central control for the limbic system, but also as the liaison between the limbic system and the cerebral cortex.


From the above overview we have learned that:

  1. Jung’s four Functions are rooted in four distinct areas of the cortex. Thinking is housed in the Left Frontal Lobe. Intuition is housed in the Right Frontal Lobe. Sensation is housed in the Left Posterior Convexity. Feeling is housed in the Right Posterior Convexity.

  2. Jung’s assertion that each of us has one Natural Lead Function is the result of a neuro-chemical - physiological fact that each person has one area which is 100 times more efficient than their remaining three areas.

  3. Jung’s assertion that each person has two natural auxiliaries can be understood to be the natural result of the brain’s structure. Factually speaking, neuronal bridges hardwire a person’s Natural Lead to their auxiliaries, making communication between their lead and auxiliaries easy, even though each actual auxiliary is relatively speaking highly inefficient.

  4. Jung’s assertion that once a person’s Natural Lead Function has been identified, one can confidently calculate the person’s greatest Natural Weakness, is the result of the simply fact that there are no diagonal bridges in the human brain.

  5. The difference between the Feeling Function and Emotions can be understood more clearly. The Feeling Function is a cortical capacity to recognize the presence or absence of harmony – between colors, tones, or human beings. By contrast, emotions are a limbic capacity to experience delight, anger, fear, grief.

  6. Jung’s belief that Falsification of Type was real possibility is understood to be the natural result of anyone developing and using any of their three inefficient, non-preferred Functions more than their highly efficient Natural Lead Function. What’s more, Jung’s assertion that Falsification of Type can be a serious threat to a person’s physical and mental / emotional health has been validated by the work of Dr. Katherine Benziger and Dr. Arlene Taylor, resulting recently in the profound recognition that Falsification of Type leads dependably to a serious results as defined by PASS.

Thus, quite simply, the elements of Jung’s Typology related to the existence and relative organization of four specialized functions or ways of "thinking" is explained.


Bibliography on Jung’s Four Functions

For those wishing to read more in-depth and technical sources, the following bibliography is recommended.

Benziger, Katherine. The Physiological and Psycho-Physiological Bases for Jungian Concepts: An Annotated Bibliography KBA 1996.

Haier, Richard. Cortical Glucose Metabolic Rate Correlates of Abstract Reasoning and Intelligence, Studied with Positron Emission, by Haier et al. unpublished paper from January 1988.

Haier, Richard. The Study of Personality With Positron Emission Tomography in Personality Dimensions & Arousal, ed. by Jan Stvelan & Hans J. Eyesenck. Plenum Publishing Company, 1987.

Konner, Melvin. The Tangled Wing 1982.

Loye, David. The Sphinx and The Rainbow 1983.

Persinger, Michael. The Neuro-psychological Bases of God Experiences. 1987.

Pribram, Karl. Brain Systems and Cognitive Learning Processes, in Proceedings from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Conference, 1982.

Pribram, Karl. Emotion: A Neurobehavioral Analysis, In Approaches to Emotion. 1984.

Pribram, Karl. Frequency Encoding in the Motor System, by Karl Pribram et. al. In Human Motor Actions - Berstein Reassessed. 1984.

Pribram, Karl. Localization and Distribution of Function in the Brain, In Neurology After Lashley. 1982.

Pribram, Karl. Object Perception, by Karl Pribrarn, E.H.Carlton. unpublished paper July 1984

Pribram, Karl. Psychoanalysis and the Natural Sciences: The Brain-Behavior Connection from Freud to the Present, an unpublished paper May 1981.

Pribram, Karl. Psychology as a Science. In Psycholoey's Second Century: Enduring Issues. 1981.


Pribram, Karl. Temporal Variables in Speech from an unpublished paper presented at The Hague, 1980.

Pribram, Karl. The Role of Cortical Connections, an unpublished paper Nov 1984.


Prepared by Katherine Benziger, Ph.D.
For the course "The Physiological Bases of Type and Extraversion/Introversion"
Offered by:
© March 1998; September 1999

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