Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Neurofeedback allows voluntary modulation of tenderness and affection

File:Diagram showing some of the main areas of the brain CRUK 188.svg

Emotional intelligence is gaining a scientific reputation as part of intellectual abilities. In all appearances, the mind rules its bodily real-estate, but the mind is ruled by emotions, which are evolutionary survival tools. According to American neuroscientist Damasio:“People who lack emotions because of brain injuries often have difficulty making decisions at all. The brain stores emotional memories of past decisions and those are what drive people's choices in life” Thus emotions maintain a mental homeostasis that dictates action to recover emotional stability. As Francois de La Rochefoucauld said, “If we resist our passion, it is more due to their weakness than our strength.”

Emotions are the exclusive motivators of intelligent animals, whose intensity can only change through interaction with the outside world. They are tools of survival, the means for interaction with the outside world and the basis of intellect. Positive emotions are success generators, because they lead to hope, trust, confidence, security, optimism, which reinforce positive actions. Emotions are experienced in a temporal infinitude. Pain or joy feels as if it would exist forever, but when emotions depart, their experience evaporates, as if they never existed. This fact has a great role in motivation. Because pain and suffering are so easily forgotten, we can find new strength to go on with life and through the feeling of permanence, emotions do propel actions. A permanent phenomenon of life, they may disappear from conscious awareness, but negative emotions manipulate and corrupt mental abilities. 

Neurofeedback is a sensory reading of behavior related brain activity that allows modification of thoughts, intentions, and actions. Video displays or sounds indicate brain frequencies in real time, which permit a voluntary modification of brain function, behavior modification through self-regulation. Neurofeedback has been utilized in medical conditions from headaches to ADHD (attention deficit disorder) and has a potential for clinical treatment of emotional problems, such as depression or to modify undesirable behavior. By giving direct, visual feedback, participants are able to master self-motivation, enhancing the potential for learning. Recent work of direct current stimulation found enhanced memory capacity lasting for up to two weeks that was accompanied by chemical changes in the hippocampus. The positive changes generated by neurofeedback should be reinforced by regular, consistent and focused practice in order to cement learning and positive emotional states, affection, or motivation.

Neurofeedback and transcranial stimulation represent an immense potential in neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry. A better understanding of the mechanism of neurofeedback and transcranial stimulation is essential in order to exploit their full potential.

Picture credit: The human brain By Cancer Res. UK

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