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 brain rules the body, but emotions rule the mind. 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 drive people's choices in life” Thus, emotions maintain 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 sole motivators of intelligent animals, whose intensity can only change through interaction with the outside world. They are tools of survival, the means of communication with the outside world, and the basis of intellect. Positive emotions generate success through hope, trust, confidence, security, optimism. Emotions are experienced in a temporal infinitude. Pain or joy feels as if it would exist forever, but their experience evaporates. This fact has a significant role in motivation. Because pain and suffering are so quickly 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 may disappear from conscious awareness, but negative emotions manipulate and corrupt mental abilities. 

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

Picture credit: The human brain By Cancer Res. UK

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