The Science


At Tougher Minds we begin with the understanding that the human brain has been evolving for approximately 200,000 years. Being your best is difficult because this was not the main goal of the evolutionary process. This process has in fact meant the brain focuses on survival, and not on how to support health and happiness as we measure them today. The Limbic regions of the brain, or what we call the A.P.E. Brain®, can dominate our thoughts and habits. Drawing on Paul MacLean’s metaphor of the ‘triune brain’, which was first published in 1990, we have developed the A.P.E. Brain® concept to make our natural instincts easier to understand. A.P.E.® stands for Alive, Perceived and Energy.

The A.P.E. Brain® looks for, and protects us against, threats. In the absence of physical threats, the A.P.E. Brain® ‘worries’ about looking bad in front of other people. It also focuses on conserving energy and on consuming high calorie food. Our mindless habits are housed in the A.P.E. Brain® and they often get in the way of well-being and high performance in the 21st century. These habits can make it difficult for us to:

– stay in good shape
– motivate ourselves
– be confident
– pay sustained attention at work or when studying
– be at our best as often as we would like

However, we are not helpless, because we also have a H.A.C. (Helpful Attention Control) Brain®. This is the pre-frontal cortex; it helps us to put the brakes on the A.P.E. Brain’s natural instincts. One of these instincts is to mindlessly ‘talk’ ourselves out of doing things we know to be good for us. You’ll know it’s a habit when you use the same arguments as before! The H.A.C. Brain® helps you to mindfully build new habits, new skills and to reflect on your current performance.

Drawing on science which includes self-control, emotional regulation, self-determination, mindset, CBT and neurobiology, we teach people how to H.A.C.® their A.P.E.® and build better habits for health, happiness and being their best.