At Least I Felt Alive

Above, you have a picture of the Default Mode Network (DMN) in those without histories of developmental trauma and those with these histories. The DMN is the self/other network in the human brain. Without it functioning reliably, we can’t form up a felt, known sense of self. The red and yellow are showing brain activation in those who are ‘off task’ and thinking about themselves and others. The bottom slide is the same network under the same conditions, i.e., off task, in those with histories of early severe trauma. There is no activation of this vital network. They do not have a reliable sense of self or other.  These are the brains that Ruth and I are talking about.


This is a slide that shows what happens to those with and without these histories when they are exposed to threat. (The threat images were derived from interviews with study participants, both the controls and the ‘exposed’, personalized to the individual and presented so quickly the person did not see it consciously.)

Look at the response of these brains. Off task, once again, you see the DMN (in red) fully deployed in the controls and not there in those with histories of developmental trauma (top). Under threat in the controls, you see the activation of the PAG, the threat detector in the human brain. In the exposed, you see the deployment of the DMN. It looks like people with histories of developmental trauma only gain a sense of self and other, under conditions of threat. Ruth and I will be talking about the implications of her research.


The red line in the top slide shows hyperconnectivity between the PAG, the threat detector in the brain stem, and the amygdala in those with these histories. For me, this represents the death feigning position adopted by the brain of someone who cannot escape- complete shutdown, what we think of as dissociation. I wanted to show it to you since I will be talking about death feigning.  The figure at the bottom shows the change after one session of neurofeedback in 80% of the exposed group from hyper connectivity between the PAG and the amygdala to connectivity between the pre-frontal cortex and the amygdala. This is what we all want.


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