Difference Between Brain and Mind in Psychology

  • Aug 04, 2022
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Difference Between Brain and Mind in Psychology

The question of the relationship between the mind and the brain has been presented since the origins of Western culture as a central point in the analysis of the human subject. Over time, several theories have been developed on the subject, some of them still preserved in the current debate. In fact, the development of neuroscience and advances in technological research in recent decades propose new contributions to the study of the mind-brain relationship. The subjective aspects of psychic activity, however, keep the debate about their differences open to various scientific and philosophical perspectives.

In this Psychology-Online article we will delve into the subject to better understand the difference between brain and mind in psychology.

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  1. what is the brain
  2. what is the mind
  3. Differences between the mind and the brain

What is the brain.

The brain is the main organ of the central nervous system, present in vertebrates and in all animals with bilateral symmetry, including humans. The brain is located inside the skull and is part of the brain, a set of structures contained within the braincase.

Similarly, the cerebrum can be defined as the organ derived from the development of the diencephalon and telencephalon vesicles. Similarly, and with the help of the endocrine system, this organ deals with part of the regulation of vital functions and is the seat of homeostatic adjustments and higher brain functions. The brain activity that is studied by the neurosciences gives life to the mind with its cognitive functions and, more generally, to the psyche with its psychic functions, studied in the field of psychiatry and psychology.

If you want to know more about how the brain is divided you can read the article Parts of the brain and their functions.

Difference between brain and mind in psychology - What is the brain

What is the mind.

The term 'mind' is commonly used to describe the set of higher functions of the brain and, in particular, those of which one can be subjectively aware in different degrees, such as sensation, thought, intuition, reason, memory, will, etc.

Although many animal species share some of these abilities with us, this term is generally used to refer to human beings. Many of these faculties, traceable at the neurophysiological level in the activity of the cerebral cortexThey shape intelligence as a whole. The term psyche, on the other hand, refers to the mind in its entirety, including the irrational dimension or, in other words, the instincts and the dimension of the deep (unconscious).

On the other hand, to the use of the term in the neurophysiological technical sense, a metaphysical use has also been added. In this perspective, the mind becomes something divine and this supposed supernatural entity, as for example in the expression "the mind of God", assumes thinking qualities that allude to a superior mind, as was the God of Spinoza.

Difference between brain and mind in psychology - What is the mind

Differences between the mind and the brain.

What is the difference between brain and mind? Here are the main differences between the mind and the brain:


The study of the relationship between the mind and the brain was facilitated by the increasing diffusion of the Latin term mens and its translation mind in the empiricist current of English philosophy. From a lexical point of view, the terms brain and mind are considered practically synonymous.

However, while the meaning of the brain is easily identifiable as the physical organ placed in the cranial cavity, the word mind lacks an objective and unequivocal definition. However, the mind is usually defined as the set of cognitive activities of every living being endowed with consciousness, thought, language.

location in space

The brain, as a physical organ, has localization properties in space and it is attributable to subcomponents, according to the classical concepts of physics.

The mind, on the other hand spatio-temporal parameters cannot be applied of physics or theories developed in the field of mathematics.

Distinction between levels of analysis

The relationship between the mind and the brain can be established from the point of view of a distinction between levels of analysis. On the one hand, the level of analysis of brain processes and phenomena studied by neuroscience and, on the other, the level of mental processes that are the object of study in psychology.

philosophical distinction

The philosophers and psychologists remain divided about the nature of the mind. Some of them, starting from the so-called substantive or essentialist perspective, maintain that the mind is an entity in itself, probably with its own functional foundation in the brain, but essentially distinct from it. That is, they consider it an autonomous existence and, as such, an object of investigation.

This perspective, established by Plato, was later assumed within Christian thought and radicalized by Descartes.


Modern neurophysiology identifies mental faculties as functions that can involve numerous areas of the brain. In this way, although it is true that the cerebral cortex is where the highest faculties reside, other more internal parts are also involved, such as the amygdala, thalamus, hypothalamus, or hippocampus, as well as those detectable cortices in the frontal cortex, parietal cortex, temporal cortex, or cerebral cortex. occipital.

Difference Between Brain and Mind in Psychology - Differences Between Mind and Brain

This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to Difference Between Brain and Mind in Psychology, we recommend that you enter our category of cognitive psychology.


  • Vigiano, M. P. (2021). Il rapporto tra mente e cervello: a continuous research. Recovered from: https://www.psicologiacontemporanea.it/blog/il-rapporto-tra-mente-e-cervello-una-ricerca-continua/
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