The Body Keeps the Score: Rewiring the Brain With Neurofeedback

Book summary of The Body Keeps the Score Brain

Stress is a symptom of a disorder that can be cured by rewiring the brain with Neurofeedback. Trauma interferes with the brain’s circuits and triggers stress hormones. The book explores the ways trauma can change the brain’s circuits.

Stress hormones spike

Our bodies release stress hormones in response to stressful situations. These hormones cause a cascade of physiological changes in the body, including heart rate and breathing. As a result, our body experiences symptoms such as sweating, anxiety, and insomnia. Chronic stress can lead to higher levels of these hormones in the brain. These high levels of stress hormones can cause health problems, including depression.

Stress hormones are produced in two areas of the brain. First, they are produced by the hypothalamus. This tiny region is part of the autonomic nervous system and plays a crucial role in our body’s “fight or flight” response. The hypothalamus sends a signal to the adrenal glands to increase the production of adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases heartbeat and respiration rates, and cortisol increases blood sugar levels and enhances the body’s ability to repair tissue.

In addition to the aforementioned physical effects, stress hormones also affect cognitive abilities. A study of more than two thousand participants found that higher cortisol levels were linked to poor memory, attention, and organizational skills. These changes in cognitive ability are often precursors to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

As a result of high levels of chronic stress, the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision-making, begins to shrink. In addition, elevated cortisol levels hardwire pathways between the hippocampus and the amygdala, which results in a vicious cycle. Cortisol also replenishes the body’s energy reserves, but extra glucose is stored in the body as fat.

Stress hormones decrease

The body responds to stress in different ways. Some stressors are more serious than others, but they can still cause changes in the body. Chronic stress can lead to health problems because it affects many systems and organs of the body. For example, stress can lead to inflammation. Pro-inflammatory cytokines can negatively affect the immune system.

When a person feels a stressful situation, the body responds by releasing cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones increase heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. They also increase muscle tension and produce beads of sweat. While this response is essential in preparing the body for a threat, it can cause the body to overreact to things that are not dangerous.

Chronic stress can also lower testosterone levels, leading to muscle loss, low libido, and fatigue. In addition, a person may feel wide-awake at night, while being exhausted during the day. This happens because cortisol levels are out of sync with the circadian rhythm. Many people resort to sleep medications and stimulants when experiencing these symptoms, but this can actually make the symptoms worse.

When the threat passes, the brain’s stress hormone levels return to baseline levels. However, when stress is ongoing, the levels can rise to dangerous levels and lead to long-term health problems. Chronic stress causes the body to respond with a fight-or-flight response that reroutes energy to other parts of the body, leading to a deterioration of body functions.

The effects of stress hormones are not completely understood. Nevertheless, research suggests that a high level of stress hormones in the body may contribute to cognitive decline. Although the role of stress hormones in Alzheimer’s disease is not fully understood, it is well-known that they increase the risk of cognitive impairment and memory decline.

Trauma interferes with brain circuits

PTSD is a serious condition that has a wide variety of symptoms that are difficult to identify at first. Many people first confuse this disorder with other conditions, such as a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is common among war veterans and soldiers. A recent report by the War Office Committee of Enquiry into “Shell Shock” highlighted the need for researchers to distinguish traumatic experiences from everyday cognitive processes. Trauma can alter the brain circuitry that controls memory, attention, and emotion.

Researchers have identified several brain circuits associated with PTSD, including frontal and temporal regions, and the dorsal attention network. These areas are involved in memory, thinking about the future, and self-awareness. These circuits are connected by neural oscillations, which are measurable only with electrophysiological methods.

The brain circuits involved in emotion regulation, attention, and self-regulation are also affected by trauma. Excessive exposure to violence or abuse creates an overwhelmingly high stress level and molds the body into a perpetual state of “fight or flight.” The brain is constantly on high alert, and a chronic state of fear can interfere with normal development of brain circuits. Traumatic stress disrupts the development of these circuits, making it difficult to make relationships and experience self-confidence.

Researchers have noted that trauma-exposed youth show reduced connectivity of the DMN and SN (default mode network). The results of this study show that trauma interferes with these brain circuits in a profound way. The DMN is known to be a hub of integration and may be involved in determining which neurocognitive system dominates.

Neurofeedback helps trauma sufferers rewire their brains

Neurofeedback is an alternative to medications, which has shown promising results for many PTSD sufferers. This method involves training a person’s brain to become more stable and regulated when stressed out. If it is successful, neurofeedback could replace medications as the first step toward treating PTSD. Although the treatment is still experimental, many practitioners have reported encouraging results.

Neurofeedback works by using computer technology to train the brain to change its behavior. A computer monitors brainwave activity and provides immediate feedback and rewards when it reaches the desired state. Patients repeat activities until they experience the desired change. The reward system reinforces behavior. This process is effective for trauma survivors as it allows them to get back to their normal lives and regain control of their emotions, attention and goals.

Research shows that traumatic events can alter the structure of the brain, including the amygdala, which is responsible for emotional memory. The hippocampus, which controls long-term memory, may also undergo physical changes. Neurofeedback helps trauma victims rewire their brains by restoring healthy brainwave patterns. Moreover, neurofeedback allows patients to self-regulate their brain activity, which is crucial for treating PTSD.

The Trauma Research Foundation teaches trauma neurofeedback training courses that include 36 hours of didactic self-paced training and 11 hours of live meetings. The courses also include hands-on training with neurofeedback equipment. In addition, participants can participate in a Case Consultation Group, which is facilitated by a trauma-specialized neurofeedback professional.

Impact of childhood trauma

Early childhood trauma has been linked to a decreased size of the cerebral cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for complex functions, such as decision-making and regulating emotions. This can affect a child’s IQ and emotional regulation. Unlike adults, children’s brains continue to develop until about age 25. Traumatic experiences can also disrupt attachment patterns, which affect the child’s ability to regulate emotions.

Children who have experienced abuse are at a higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. These disorders can also impair memory and lead to dissociation, which can leave a child in different states of consciousness. Adverse experiences can also disrupt a child’s behavior, attention, and language development.

Traumatic experiences during childhood have devastating effects for victims, their families, and society. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, childhood trauma is defined as a combination of direct exposure, witnessing the trauma, or hearing about the trauma from a parent, caregiver, or close friend. Some common examples of childhood trauma are exposure to motor vehicle accidents, bullying, war, community violence, and sexual abuse.

Children who experience trauma during childhood have higher levels of cortisol than non-affected children. The resulting elevated levels of CRF are associated with higher levels of aggression, hypervigilance, and generalized arousal. Additionally, they experience changes in the sympathetic nervous system, which can lead to PTSD.

Researchers have shown that childhood PTSD is associated with lower levels of performance on tests such as the California Verbal Learning Test-Child’s Version. In addition, children with abuse-related PTSD showed lower scores in executive functioning and attention.

Shopping Cart