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October 22, 2021

How to rewire your brain after trauma | Explain It Like I’m Smart, with Bessel van der Kolk
Subscribe to Big Think on YouTube ►►youtube.com/c/bigthink
Up next ►► 6 ways to heal trauma without medication, from the author of “The Body Keeps the Score” youtube.com/watch?v=ZoZT8-HqI64

Have you ever wondered what happens to the traumatized brain when a soldier comes back from war? Often what's seen is that with each deployment, the frontal lobe becomes slower. This means that veterans cannot pay attention to what is in front of them, making it hard to engage in day-to-day life. Yet when a soldier has exposure to frightening events, such as a loud and sudden sound, their frontal lobe comes online. At the end of the day, when someone is traumatized and not experiencing danger, the brain doesn't function. But when the same person senses danger, the brain has been wired to act as a specialist in dealing with danger.

This is where modern technology, such as quantitative EEGs, comes into play. An EEG is essentially a brain mapping system that can show you the active wiring of the brain. When someone is getting an EEG, this technology will measure the brainwaves at the back of their brain - the section of the brain that is set to expect danger.

If the EEG picks up fast brain waves that resemble trauma, what we can do is rewire the brain. Whenever a traumatized person makes quiet, relaxed, and calm waves in their brain, they’ll get a reward. With this technology, we now can shape the brain to have a different configuration and different wiring, so it's no longer set to expect danger, but it's set to be open to new experiences. This is called Neural feedback.

Read the video transcript: bigthink.com/series/explain-it-like-im-smart/neural-feedback
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About Bessel van der Kolk:
Bessel van der Kolk is a psychiatrist noted for his research in the area of post-traumatic stress since the 1970s. His work focuses on the interaction of attachment, neurobiology, and developmental aspects of trauma’s effects on people. His major publication, Traumatic Stress: The Effects of Overwhelming Experience on Mind, Body, and Society, talks about how the role of trauma in psychiatric illness has changed over the past 20 years.

Dr. van der Kolk is past President of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School, and Medical Director of the Trauma Center at JRI in Brookline, Massachusetts. He has taught at universities and hospitals across the United States and around the world, including Europe, Africa, Russia, Australia, Israel, and China.

Check out Bessel van der Kolk's latest book, “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” at amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/0143127748

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Read more of the stories on neural feedback and healing trauma:
How to Heal from Trauma ►► bigthink.com/personal-growth/how-to-heal-from-trauma/

PTSD Doesn’t Only Reside in the Brain►► bigthink.com/philip-perry/ptsd-doesnt-only-reside-in-the-brain

Been traumatized? Here's how PTSD rewires the brain.►► bigthink.com/philip-perry/been-traumatized-here-is-how-ptsd-rewires-the-brain

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