Altered Brain Networks
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was first introduced into the DSM in 1980 as the diagnostic classification to describe the devastating effects on soldiers who have suffered the horrors of war. When faced with constant life and death situations and ongoing fear this changes the brain’s arousal networks. This diagnosis was then used to describe other types of trauma experiences not related to war.
Hightened Fight or Flight Response
Research shows that psychological trauma impacts brain areas such as the amygdala (emotion regulation and storage of fear memories), the hippocampus (memory and memory consolidation) and the pre-frontal cortex (planning a person's response to complex and difficult problems). If trauma occurs repeatedly or over a prolonged period, cortisol (a hormone released during times of stress) is released too much, subsequently activating the amygdala and causing even more cortisol to be released. It is a self-perpetuating cycle that leaves the individual with heightened sympathetic arousal (“fight” or “flight” response).
Life changing results
In a similar way, children who have experienced abuse and neglect also become traumatised, however, depending on the length and severity of this neglect or trauma, there may also be corresponding developmental delays. There are many who use the term Developmental Trauma disorder (although not official) to describe the presentation of this kind of trauma.
Due to the neuronal plasticity of the brain, the fear circuitry and arousal network as described above for PTSD, becomes hyper-aroused and easily triggered, causing wide spread dysregulation. It is this network that neurofeedback training targets to first quiet the fear circuitry and to regulate the dysregulated frequencies. Follow up studies show that gains are maintained over time.
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We offer a private one on one consultation service at our practice located in Rockhampton, Central Queensland.
Psychology & Neurotherapy Services
15 Norman Street,
Rockhampton, Queensland 4700
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Fisher, S. (2014). Neurofeedback in the treatment of developmental trauma: Calming the fear driven brain. W. W. Norton & Company, New York.