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September 2012

Your mind is playing tricks on you…

Normally it is my clients that report that their minds are ‘spinning’ after a great session where they get their desired outcome.

Today, however, I can report that it is my brain that is ‘spinning’!  

As a neurophysiologist, I am constantly researching the connections between the ‘science’ of brain structure and function, and the ‘art’ of clinical application of rapid change processes that I have found to be so effective.

I have been preparing an advanced Professional Development for leading educators, and I came across some fascinating research on information processing theory in the brain, distributed neural networks of learning and memory.

As I connected this with what I know, my brain ‘exploded’ with insights.  Insights that explain, using scientific research, some of the deeper processes of Hypnosis and NLP and how some of what I do to work successfully with clients is supported by years of brain research.

Today I will share some insights, and their implications:

•There are three types of memory: declarative memory (facts), episodic memory (an event) and process memory (rules, the ‘how’).

•Short term memory is a distributed network of neurons within the long term memory.  It can hold up to 7 (+/-2) items in storage, each for about 0.05 of a second.  We can have attention on one or two of these items (often called chunks) during this time.

•We can keep things in active (short term memory) by rehearsal.

•We access or store in our long term memory based upon coded ‘tags’ that are assigned to each memory ‘trace’

•We synthesise new memories based upon a combination of stored material and new stimuli which compete to be held as the seven chunks in active memory.

Does this all seem a little remote?  Then try these implications to see how your memories have been playing tricks on you.

Most problems occur because we have stored ‘episodic’ memories as ‘procedural’.  That is, something happens and we make a ‘rule’ out of it.  We have a bad experience and from that we derive a series of meanings which are then stored as ‘rules’ that are accessed for future thinking and acting.

If we have a powerful event – which means it will be both in active memory and focused attention – we can ‘replay’ it over and over through rehearsal and re-running it, looking for meaning (synthesis processes of creativity and problem solving).  Rather than resolving this as a discrete ‘episode’, the memory functions see this replay as a series of episodes.

A process memory is created from a series of similar events, where the memory functions ‘learn’ the common or key aspects of the series of events and encode that as a ‘process’.  So if we are busy running an individual event over and over in our minds – the brain may see it as a process (lots of similar events) and create a ‘rule’ or strategy out of it.

The good news is that by understanding the process aspect of memory, it can be recalled through hypnosis or NLP into active memory.  It can be the basis of focused attention and modified with new information (internal and external stimuli) – converting it back into an episodic memory or altering the nature of the process.  Rehearsal in hypnosis of the ‘improved’ process allows it to be encoded as a new process memory.  This provides a new and helpful way for the client to deal with an event that arises which previously would have been managed with an unhelpful strategy based upon the process memory.

Too much for you?  By having a deep understanding of how the brain works I am able to apply the tools and processes that I have learned in a scientifically validated way to get great results.  I never stop learning, and I never stop being amazed by the ability of the brain to find more valuable and resourceful ways to operate if shown how.

Over the next weeks, I will share with you more insights and how they scientifically support the rapid change processes that I employ.

 

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