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Neurohacking - Tutorials
Written by NHA   
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 01:01
Article Index
Neurohacking Tutorial 5 - Improving & Augmenting N1 & N2
Stress And Relaxation in Rear Networks
Growth And Development vs Protection Modes
What Happens If Things Go Wrong
Cells That Fire Together Wire Together
Motivation, Coercion and Unconditional Positive Regard
NHA Guide to Methods and Tech
Hacks and Exercices
Notes, References & Answers
All Pages

 

Neurohacking Tutorial 5

Improving and Augmenting Networks 1 & 2

(Updated: Nov 2009)

 

Before beginning this tutorial you should have constructed a personal plan for NH, based on your Functional Analysis and any other info you have gathered (for example lifestyle assessment or results of exercises done so far). This should enable you to start ‘walking the path’.

Despite personal differences, everyone's personal plan is going to incorporate the golden rule “Always do things in the right order”, so we will all be working with the same underlying structure:

  1. Reduce anxiety & control input (this gives you some immediate control in all networks)
  2. Work on rear nets from the bottom up according to our personal needs until reasonably balanced
  3. Work on N3 according to our personal needs, doing any necessary memory/ imagination/ emotional stability adjustments
  4. Upgrade, improve and develop front nets (networks).

 

We are assuming that you have achieved the first stage, which should now be a regular practice. We'll include different types of input control hacks in each tutorial from now on. In this tutorial we consolidate our work on N1 & N2, and take a look at the stress/relaxation principle as the main factor in learning, growth and development. 

 



Follow the Right Habit


Mental Fitness Begins Here

After anxiety reduction and input control have become regular, the majority of students need to continue NH with the earliest networks 1 & 2. Even if you don’t, you will probably want to augment them at some point. In this tutorial there are more details about what these networks do, what problems each can get, exercises & hacks for them, and we examine the way in which their processes provide a foundation for the fundamentals of intelligence.

Some beginners tend to think of the earlier networks as ‘less important’ than others; for example they might think it’s ‘better’ for intelligence to have a strong network for intellect or creativity but not really so important to have one for good physical coordination or strong attention. Others might think that all they really need in order to be intelligent is a better memory, an ability to think fast, and who the hell cares about social skills?

If you feel this way, maybe you’re forgetting what ‘intelligent’ means. Optimal function needs all networks! Whatever situation you’re in, whatever skills you have already, a full intelligence can make it better. Every network we maintain in good working order improves the performance of every other network; because all networks are intimately connected.

Conversely, any network struggling to keep up or processing the wrong things will slow down all your other abilities. So any improvement in any part improves all the rest by default, and you'll have noticed that some hacks/exercises are useful for multiple networks even though you employ them to upgrade just one.

If any set of networks could be considered ‘most important’, though, it would be this rear area, for without N1 & 2 we have nothing. As we explained in tutorial 2, almost all of your most important neurotransmitters are produced here. Those chemicals are responsible not only for your abilities, such as staying alert, paying attention, concentrating and being observant enough to learn anything, but also for your desire to learn; for your motivation and ability to take an interest in anything in the first place. Communications between the body and mind and between the senses and the brain are facilitated here too, forming the basics of all your sensory perception & orientation.

This is equally true in 'Starship' terms: No matter how huge a database of facts or clever procedures you carry in your ship's computer, you cannot do much with it with no sensors, burned out engines or failing life support.

You are beginning a grand adventure when you start developing intelligence, and the more you know about these basics the more quickly you will grasp the details. Also, some of the main processes (for example memory, perception, learning) that we will be looking at soon are quite complex, and understanding the fundamentals they rely on makes them much easier to fathom.

 

Stress, Relaxation and Development

One of the fundamental processes prevalent through the whole brain is the stress/relaxation polarity. This is part of the cyclic process of growth and development that takes place on all levels; physical, behavioral, neurochemical, procedural, cognitive, interactive.

We have already talked about the relaxation response and its effect on reducing anxiety, and here we will extend on the nature of the stress/relaxation polarity so that in the next tutorial you will be able to see its place in the natural cycle of learning.

 

For You and Against You: Motivation Versus Coercion (**)

The process of stress/relaxation is part of the cycle of growth and development apparent in both 'hardware' and 'software' -body and mind. In hardware terms we are talking about how learning increases the density of network connections in the brain. In software terms we are talking about the processes that enable learning, growth and development, what they need, and what can get in their way.

 

For You

On your side in employing the stress/relaxation response for developing and learning optimally is motivation. To maintain a childlike and open-minded attitude about playing, and about learning without being taught, you must have motivation. You have to WANT to learn; to want to improve and change. You must be interested in what you are learning and you must think that it matters, because otherwise you will not be able to 'walk the path' no matter how much you discover.

For some of us, motivation comes when we get totally sick and fed-up of feeling like crap, of being stuck in a rut, or of failure in interpersonal relations. We get tired of being tired, or sick of being sick, or bored with being bored.

For others, motivation is triggered by seeing, hearing about or experiencing an example of our potential, of what intelligence can do, (and this may be a factual or a fictional example as long as it inspires us.)

Motivation will be provided for free by your intent, if you are able to provide the background matrix that triggers it. To do this you need to be able to relax and reduce the anxiety factors in your life with input control sufficient for biology's intent to function healthily. This is what triggers motivation, as a growing desire to learn, develop and improve; and this is how we reawaken our natural striving for excellence.

You are definitely able to do this, because you've already used the natural learning system adeptly before. This is exactly the system our brains used originally as children, learning to walk and talk with networks 1&2 so that we could move about and interact with the input needed to develop network 3, (which gives us the mental ‘tools’ to develop network 4, and so on).

All the tools for developing any given network are built in to the previous network. You learned to speak and walk the natural way. You didn't plan these tasks and draw up a syllabus or call in a tutor. You didn't wake up some days with no motivation and think, “Damn it, I can't be bothered to practice walking today!” Your biological intent to learn and develop was still very strong back then because nobody had interfered with it, and you went right ahead and learned a whole language and an immensely complex series of sensorimotor coordinated movements, all by yourself.

This is what intelligence can do, and if left alone it will keep on doing it with whatever you want to learn as long as nothing gets in its way. Allowed to freely interact as a child, we will continue to follow whatever we are interested in and we will learn about it keenly and well. Those who get this opportunity in childhood are currently rare, but allowing yourself that sort of freedom now and recalling that state of mind at any age will provide you with motivation automatically.

Think about it... Are you (or have you ever been) really interested in something; like a sport or a band or comic books or a computer game or TV series? I bet you know lots about that subject; all kinds of details. We learn avidly about whatever we love and are interested in, and biology has designed it that way. Interest is a signal of potential benefit to intelligence, for as long as we are healthy. If we follow biology's intent and play avidly with whatever we love, we will develop our intelligence optimally.

When the intent within is met halfway by the correct content without (correct input), motivation is automatic and learning is easy and fast.

 

Against You

What's working against you is the fact that our society has interfered with natural learning by removing us from the input we need (no input = nonuse) and then trying to direct our attention to certain types of input in the wrong order (wrong input = wronguse). It's a double-whammy.

Forced learning education systems shove in declarative data that adults consider important and deny us the vital data biology needs. Doing this does not trigger motivation, because the brain knows unconsciously when input is wrong or premature. We just don't get naturally interested in the wrong input. So education systems have had to replace motivation (the result of our natural intent) with coercion (the 'carrots and sticks' of indoctrination). Learning is then slow, incomplete (motivation provides the neurochemicals that assist memory and association) and often impermanent (motivation also provides the chemicals for making memory long-term). Learning anything you are not interested in will not provide these chemicals because your brain knows that the information is not in reality of any importance to you.

Also, our “stretching” exploratory behavior only increases in safe environments, which makes great sense from a survival point of view -there's no use standing around learning stuff in an area full of dangerous predators, but whenever we are coerced into anything we don't feel safe. If we were with respectful friends, there would be no coercion, and biology knows this. Being coerced at all makes us anxious, it's something that shouldn't be happening in a healthy environment.

In summary, society's anxiety-based intentions have separated learning from play, and in doing so created work (and this “normal” way of looking at learning as associated with hard work is so entrenched in our society that it can make the ideas behind natural learning difficult for us to grasp at first), but bear in mind that the scientific evidence now strongly indicates that ALL natural learning takes place through play and is prompted by natural motivation.

Conversely, all forced learning replaces motivation with coercion, and all forced learning is wronguse.

Natural learning produces intelligence, and society doesn't want intelligence (indeed, intelligence would dismantle our current society by replacing it with an intelligent culture). The current population is made up largely of anxious people with adult-sized bodies and dysfunctional minds stuck in mid-development; childish rather than childlike (***), and our social structure has developed in order to service the needs of this majority; it provides the needs of the terminally insecure; not the needs of intelligence; in short it can't currently provide very much that intelligence needs and instead provides a lot of things that damage it. Forced learning is simply indoctrination into compliance with its system (and since this is at root a non-workable system for intelligence, this creates a great deal of confusion.)

Many NH'ers are going to have to totally reconsider how learning works, and think hard about the differences between what intelligence needs and what society wants. We'll explore this and its consequences later on; for now we are going to focus on understanding the basis of the natural learning process and providing what intelligence needs.


You should by now know enough to be aware of the brain’s physical needs. Intelligence, of course, has more than physical needs; it needs relevant input and time to mess about (play) with it, free from coercion.

We hope you have understood that there are only really two types of input, regardless of where it comes from. These are 'helpful' or 'harmful': input we can use to improve things or input that will use us to make things worse. If you don't understand this yet don't worry; it will become clear when you do the practical stuff and see what a difference consistent good input makes. This is why it is vital to take control over your input, spending most of your time doing things that will make you smarter, and actively avoiding those that will make you dumber!

We often point out 'versus factors' (things for you and against you) in specific circumstances in these tutorials , but figuring out consciously ALL the things that are working for and against you in every single situation would be far too complicated a way for brains to go about things in real time. By the time our ancestors had worked it all out cognitively and computed what to do, they would have been eaten or starved to death. What biology needs is a superfast simple method to tell right away (sometimes within fractions of a second) if something is “on our side” or working against us. And guess what? –We’ve got one. We have labeled this ability variously as 'intuition' 'instinct' 'hunch' 'a sixth sense', 'attraction/repulsion' and 'gut feeling', but in fact intuition and even instinct are the result of extremely complex unconscious processing, as we will learn.

 


 

Nature has evolved all creatures to “like” and be motivated to move towards habits of behavior that are good for them, and to “dislike” move away from and avoid all things that are bad news. This is indeed 'instinctive' (instinct is an inborn hardwired set of programs for activities and tendency to behavior common to a given biological species, prompted by biological drives). If you’re a owl, for example, you’re going to “like” food, sex, nests and hooting. If you’re an ameba you're going to like warmth and food and dislike cold and toxins. If you're human though, it gets a bit more complicated.

Humans are flexible and adaptable in ways that other creatures are not. We have 'plasticity' throughout. We can survive on a multitude of different diets, in a multitude of different climates, adjust our habits for our own convenience, and create tools and artifacts to help ourselves survive and thrive. The trouble with our adaptability is that it relies on our culture to become our matrix for development as we grow by showing us through example which habits are ‘helpful’ and which are ‘harmful’.

Culture is supposed to include our species' collective survival-and-thriving habits. Emphasis on different aspects or details of culture varies according to circumstances and environment. If you live in the jungle, for example, you are going to prioritize different skills in order to help you survive and thrive than those you will need if you live in a western city or in the arctic. Regardless, nature expects the information and cultural examples that you are given to be accurate and expedient; based on millions of years' of exploration, discovery, learning and adaptation. Parents, relatives and friends are expected [by nature] to be intelligent, experienced, helpful and wise. Those who teach are expected to be exceptionally wise (no, don't laugh). This is what biology expects.

Unfortunately most of us are not raised by membbers of an intelligent, helpful, wise culture. Most adults don't know how to survive and thrive themselves in their own society. With only the anxious intentions of current adult and media misinformation, we cannot associate anything with biology's own definitions of “helpful” and “harmful”, and we get it wrong. Instead of an accurate and clear understanding of what is important in real life that we need from our culture, we get indoctrinated into believing nonsense by a dysfunctional society based on chronic anxiety, fear and greed. In our society, the people who find out the facts about things [researchers, scientists, explorers] are not the sources of our information; which are television, newspapers, teachers and gossip. The aim of our sources of information is to sell us things to pacify anxiety and make money to pacify theirs. The contrived (intentional) aim of society is to keep people dependent, preferably for life (as the drug companies put it, 'from conception to death').

The evolutionary aim of our biology (intent) is to make us autonomous and independent as well as sociable and cooperative, and now that you know this you can probably see where many problems begin; in the disparity between the two.

Not knowing the helpful from the harmful makes things difficult for intelligence because indoctrination makes our intuition unreliable, but we can still work it all out from first principles -'this feels good', 'that tastes nasty' etc. if we are allowed to. The 'double whammy' occurs because most often we are taught by our society that biology's decisions are wrong, that they are dirty or bad or evil or wicked (although we're never quite told why) and we are programmed to listen to what those around us say is good, as well as what we feel is good.

In healthy conditions the two should match up, then allow for adaptation. Instead, in anxiety-driven societies we are told that if we trust our instincts and intuition we will develop into violent, stupid, filthy animals (instead of nice civilized human beings who listen to their teachers and get good jobs and get married and go to church and pay their taxes and stuff.) This picture of 'civilization' is society's ideal. It has to be imposed on biology via coercion and forced learning (because society's ideals are not instinctive, since they are harmful to biology). What this indoctrination process really achieves is domestication, a bunch of dumb dependent creatures which serve their society as they are told, and civilization is the very thing this indoctrination is preventing.

Confronted with this dilemma as youngsters we stop trusting our instincts, stop being sure we know what's good and bad for us, start believing we need others who are more qualified to tell us what is good or bad or right or wrong and what to believe, and biological development and intelligence development slip out of synchrony.

Having the helpful not just made unavailable but also replaced by the harmful like this is devastating to intelligence because it removes all possibility of optimal synchronized development, wrecks our health, and causes us more and more problems as time goes by. We are not prepared (matured) properly to cope with life’s realities, we can't adapt and things stress us out simply because we don't understand what's really going on or why people are 'what they're like'. This confusion and its attendant misunderstanding shows up most clearly in interpersonal relationships. We don't even understand why we don't understand, because we still feel unconsciously somehow that we should. We feel we should have 'seen it coming', whatever it was. Intuition tells us that we're smarter than this. (Don't think you are -know you are) : ) This is why some have described NH as a process of 'waking up in stages'.

Reawakening your natural ability to know helpful from harmful is partly what we are doing this program for; enabling you to reclaim the awareness and motivation that biology intended you to have in the first place. Habits, even habits of belief, are only habits, and all ‘tastes’ are ‘acquired tastes’. NH enables us to adapt, realign ourselves with natural development and become so much more than we may have expected or been told.

 

Our minds develop through interaction with intelligent culture, but biologically any intelligence raised in this society starts out as culturally  deprived. To find the input that intelligence needs, we must gain access to culture for ourselves from first principles out of distributed fragments of truth. The information in these tutorials is providing only one of those fragments our culture can provide for us; the music and the movies that we choose as input provide us with another fragment, and so on.

Once we have input control and have started doing this, we are creating good conditions for growth and development; biology's intent is once again matched with appropriate content (input) and we slip back into synchronized development. Once back in sync we learn and remember more easily; brain chemistry, mood and behavior are balanced by complementary networks moving through cycles of stretching and relaxing, and we can then use this cycle deliberately to augment intelligence, balance and build up our networks. By creating the matrix for growth, we allow intelligence to unfold as smoothly as biology intended.

 


DO IT NOW

 

Test Your Variable Attention

Take as long as you need to work this out without rushing, but time how long it takes you.

I have before me two boxes. One is empty, the other I notice has a box within it, and that box has two boxes within it, and those two boxes have 4 boxes each within them. So, I pick up the box with all the other boxes in it, and place it inside the empty box....how many boxes are there all together?

(answer at end of tutorial)

This test is called the TOVA (Test Of Variable Attention). Paying attention and concentrating are easy when the subject or activity you're involved in is fun and interesting. This is the easiest part of learning; allowing the events to draw you in and following where your interest leads. To grasp the finer details though, you need to be able to 'stretch' your own mind and push concentration, observation and attention to detail.

If you found this puzzle easy, you may be surprised to learn that some people cannot do it at all. The longer it takes you to figure out, the more work you should do on your attention skills, including anxiety reduction.

 


 

Stress & Relaxation in Rear Networks


Although up until now we have considered N1 and N2 as a single network, because they share various tasks such as locomotion and sensory processing, here we must separate them and consider what each contributes to the whole.

Network 1 is responsible for processing concrete (material) information from your short-range senses (touch, heat, pressure, taste, texture), processing data about material (physical) things, and storing long term sensorimotor (‘muscle’) memories. It plays a part in attention and perception, and provides the necessary neurotransmitters and processes for self-care; a broad spectrum of habits ranging from personal grooming and hygiene to avoidance of toxic substances, together with the neurotransmitters for their associated emotional states of fastidiousness, comfort, satisfaction or disgust.

Network 2 plays an important role in all animal behavior. Our orientation and ability to learn sensorimotor tasks such as walking, swimming, dancing, climbing, hunting and self defense relies on this area. It also provides the basics of timing and pitch to help us understand language and music, body language and non-verbal communication.

N2 processes information about behavior, technically about the motion of objects in space (things like posture, body language, facial expressions, sound and light (motion of waves in space), direction and distance and navigation/orientation. It plays a main role in 'seeking behavior', attention, motivation and exploration, and the transmitters it uses provide the emotions associated with these activities, such as desire, curiosity and courage.

Each network does a particular kind of processing, and often their processes work in parallel polarities to achieve an overall balanced result or output. Rear networks process information about concrete, material things and their behavior; real physical events in the material world. Network 1 focuses on the things, network 2 on the events the things are involved in (behavior). Network 1's main transmitters help you to relax and chill out, and network 2's main transmitters help you to stretch and explore. Between them, they share a stress/relaxation polarity.


Attention

Attention generally increases the firing rate of responsive N1 & N2 neurons: The stronger (more interesting or important) the stimulus, the higher the frequency (the more impulses are sent per second), which -especially with objects in motion- improves the quality of the signals coming in.

But this is not all that attention does; researchers recently discovered that it also tunes out distractions by reducing the 'noise' of background activity. It's estimated that this noise reduction increases the fidelity of the neural signal by a factor that is as much as four times as large as the improvement caused by increases in firing rate (and this may account for as much as 80% of our attention's acuity). (1)

There are two levels of attention; unconscious and directed. Directed attention is here referred to as concentration.


Motivation

To motivate means “to move”, and N2 is the master network for movement, not just as locomotion but as emotion; as desire to pursue plus the physical dexterity to fulfill that desire; experienced as the urge to explore and the ability to do so.

Motivation happens when probable benefits have been unconsciously predicted, the desire to learn increases and the brain ramps up attention and memory to prepare for the coming interactions. This is the 'stretch' part of the stress/relax polarity.

In recent studies, (2) researchers found that in healthy people, anticipating beneficial reward activates specific brain structures in the "mesolimbic" circuit of the brain (part of N2). This is a major pathway for the neurotransmitter dopamine (in fact it’s the pathway that goes wrong in Parkinson’s disease) and dopamine is the neurotransmitter for 'desire'; prompting behaviors that move us closer to the object of desire in anticipation of benefits to come. We experience this as attraction.

The researchers also found that subjects were far more likely to remember high-value (important) scenes than low-value scenes. High-value-associated scenes that were later remembered (but not those that were later forgotten) activated the learning & memory-related hippocampus (N3) in the medial temporal lobe (MTL) of the brain as well as the desire areas of the mesolimbic region (N2), and subjects who showed greater activation in these regions also showed better memory performance.

Activation of the dopamine 'desire' circuit prior to events gives us another clue that the brain predicts -actually prepares in advance to interact with incoming information rather than simply reacting to the world. Thus, prediction (anticipatory activation) of the mesolimbic circuit fires up our motivation and primes memory.


Natural Polarity in All Animal Behavior and All Neurotransmission

Neurochemistry is the link between concrete, material, physical behavior, emotion, and cognitive thought –the link between biology and psychology; between what we need and the behavior necessary to achieve it. Desire is necessary for this phase of learning, just as fulfillment is necessary for later phases.

The more balanced and developed your networks are, the more your biology and psychology will work together. As you shape up early networks and get them balanced, you'll start producing healthy amounts of neurotransmitters. This will prompt the adjustment of their receptors everywhere and your brain will start to form new connections in ALL networks.

It's now known that our neurochemical state affects what kinds of thoughts we can access from memory as well as our outward behavior. If you think about this, you can see what a huge impact on our personality overall neurotransmitters really have!

Lest we forget, and as much as some might wish to deny, we are animals. Mammals to be more precise; higher primates to be even more precise, but animals nevertheless.

All animal behavior is based at root on the polarity of stress/relaxation as an expression of intent, enabled by drives and motivation, communicated chemically by neurotransmitters as desire and psychologically as intuition, realized and enacted via instinct modulated by feedback. Don't worry if that sounds too complicated; there's a summary in the next section.

To synchronize brain, body & mind, the hypothalamus links the brain and nervous system to the endocrine (hormone) system via the pituitary gland. *(AI students, see footnote). In the next tutorial, we're going to look at how it achieves this in more depth, but in brief, N1 & 2 together give us instinct; the innate behaviors that allow intent to become actual material interaction. And each individual network processes and outputs specific types of behavior.

Biology uses 6 main basic types of behavior to achieve all its needs, and these show clear polarities both within networks and between networks (take care to note the network numbers; they work in pairs):

 

Relax

Stretch

N1: self care & hygiene (“serene & clean”)

N2: seeking & warning (“seek & squeak”)

N4: interaction & construction (“create & cooperate”)

N5: resource assessment/gathering & self presentation (“assess & impress”)

N6: judgment, problem solving & decision making (enjoy & deploy)

N3: alliance-making (“befriend & bond”) & defense (“fight & flight”)

 

Below are some examples of behaviors processed by networks 1 & 2: 


 

These basic behaviors are normally instinctive. Hopefully you can see how drives such as sex and hunger use “seeking” behavior (courting and hunting respectively, even if these days hunting means looking for the best pizza online) and how 'construction behavior' can apply equally to nest building, little wooden huts and the international space station. Fact is, ALL of our behaviors relate back to one or more of these essential 'behavior templates' for different types of interaction, and each pair of templates is based on the stress-relaxation polarity.

Neurotransmission obviously parallels this polarity, and you'll begin to see how as we learn more. For now, remember our 'green zone' table from tutorial 1? Here it is again below:
 

No growth (decay)

Healthy growth

Unhealthy growth (eg cancer)

Relaxation only (apathy)

Stress/relaxation

Stress only (anxiety)

No learning

Natural learning

Forced learning (coercion)

Weak immunity

Strong immunity

Hyper immunity (eg inflammation, allergies)

No interests

Healthy interests

Obsessions

Depression

Balanced mind

Mania

 

We can look at some of the basic behaviors in just the same way. Healthy behavior templates are in the green zone; we have put in the related networks:
 

Self neglect

Self care (N1)

Obsessive hygiene habits

Ignoring

Seeking benefits (N2)

Craving / Addiction

Unaware of dangers

Awareness of dangers (N2/N3)

Paranoia

Alienation

Friendship & love (N3)

Possessiveness

Timidity

Defense (N3)

Aggression

Helpless / Dependence

Cooperation/interaction (N4)

Coercion / Authoritarianism

Self-deprecation

Self esteem/confidence (N5)

Arrogance

No control of resources

Expedient resource allocation (N5)

Compulsive hoarding

Unable to make decisions

Clear decision making (N6)

Prejudiced decisions

 

There is a 'healthy range' of behavior just as there is a healthy range of temperature or food intake. Hopefully you can see why healthy behaviors are desirable, and also a little bit about what happens when we slide outside the green zone.

A single change in input signaling can have astonishing effects on mammalian behavior. For example, a solitary protein produced by a single gene is necessary to prevent mice from compulsively grooming themselves to the extent that they lose their hair and cause lesions on the skin (very similar to obsessive/compulsive hand-washing in humans) (3)

All behaviors in the green zone are a balance of polarities. Al behaviors outside the range are out of balance. If this happens to your fluid intake or your temperature, you will consciously notice the discomfort quite quickly. When it happens with unconscious root behaviors, you may not notice it at all until you get a view of the 'big picture' of how things should be as in the table above.

It's important to remember the 'sliding scale' nature of imbalance -we can be slightly out of balance or temporarily out of balance (perhaps we lack a little self esteem, or get a little paranoid now and again). We are naturally self-healing organisms, and only if unbalanced conditions are permanent or frequently troubling can we consider them 'stuck' habits and address them as such in NH. Given the opportunity, most unbalanced conditions will realign themselves, and by practising anxiety control and input control we put our brains back into a matrix for healthy development where they have the opportunity to do this.

 

The Most Important Bits to Remember

 

As a general rule, network 1 deals with physical, solid, individual material things, like substances, people, objects, our limbs, and network 2 deals with how those things move about in spatial ways –their motion and their behaviors.

There are two levels of attention; unconscious attention and directed attention (concentration).

Motivation is prompted by biological intent, and our natural ‘drives’ are a part of this. Instinctive behavior is facilitated by neurotransmitters.

To help you remember the ‘chain of command’, here's a look at the process via the original meanings of the words we still use for these things today:

Intent originally meant "stretch out, lean toward," (lit. "stretched out"). Intent is the background program of striving for entelechy (Rogers’ “actualizing tendency”). Development and learning proceed from the bottom-up and always begin with biology's intent.

Drive originally meant ‘to push from behind’. Drives are biology’s way of pushing us to fulfil intent. We have drives for hunger, thirst, sex, exploration, sociality, learning, and so on.

Motivation To 'motivate' originally meant to provide with a motive or motives; to incite or impel, and 'motive' originates from the latin word 'to move'. All behavior is motion, and all thought is internal motion.

Desire originally meant ‘out of the stars’ (De- out of + Sider ‘belonging to the stars’), but the word ‘sider’ also meant ‘iron’ (iron meteorites are called siderolites).  Desire is all about attraction towards or repulsion away from, and Iron meteorites are notoriously magnetic; (eg iron displays ‘seeking behavior’ whenever a magnet comes near, and the analogy of our own feelings of desire with magnetic force is still apparent in our colloquial speech). We speak of being ‘drawn towards something magnetically’ or of a relationship as ‘magnetic attraction’.

Intuition originally meant ‘contemplation’ (in + tuition; self-tuition) It is our experience of unconscious awareness, which can sometimes become conscious as we learn more about a thing or event.

Instinct originally meant ‘self-inspiring’. Instincts are procedures such as seeking behavior, defensive behavior, birthing behavior, homing, courtship rituals. Things we know how to do without being told. Natural learning is originally included in this.

Each instinct is prompted by neurotransmitters affecting particular networks; for example seeking behavior is prompted by dopamine hitting network 2. So instincts are constantly modulated by perceived incentive value furnished by ongoing feedback.

Incentive originally meant ‘setting the tune’, (from Latin incinere to play (an instrument, tunes); (in- + -cinere, comb. form of canere to sing + -ivus (-ive)).

Incentive value is the attractiveness (predicted potential benefit) of an event as determined by unconscious processing, and is mediated by the predicted probability of success.

 

All basic behaviors and neurotransmitters display stress/relaxation polarity.

 


DO IT NOW

 

Tracing Root Behaviors

Grab your Captain's log and make a list of things you do most days. Include anything from eating to playing computer games. It should be easy to think of six things you do almost every day, see how many more you can think of (we perform a surprising number of routine behaviors most days without even noticing).

When you have your list, compare it to these basic animal behaviors:

Serene & clean, seek & squeak, befriend & bond, fight & flight, create & cooperate, assess & impress, enjoy & deploy.

Now see if you can work out what basic behaviors your activities relate to. Some activities may relate only to one basic behavior, others may relate to several.

When you've done that, see if you can trace the possible 'root' behaviors behind the following activities:

  • dressing up to go out
  • playing football
  • planning a garden
  • inviting a new acquaintance to dinner
  • SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence)
  • doing a self assessment
  • shaking someone's hand
  • decorating
  • swerving to avoid an accident


If you find this hard, consider what sort of things animals do that is similar to these activities humans do.

(answers at end of tutorial)

 


 

Growth & Development Versus Protection Modes

 

Outside the green zone, people experience extremes of mood and behavior. We explained the difference between stress and anxiety in tutorial 1, and will expand on that a little here:

Biology uses the word “stress” in a very particular way, unlike that of the popular media. You may have encountered the biological usage in physical exercise terminology –we “stress” and “relax” a muscle. A muscle is stressed and relaxed in order to do work, whether that ‘work’ is picking up a pencil or lifting weights. The word ‘stress’ is used in the same sense with regard to the brain and mind. To ‘stress’ the mind, we engage it in the exploration of something it does not know yet, and to ‘relax’ the mind, we assimilate and understand that thing; it becomes ‘known’.

Stress and relaxation are both in the service of growth & development; we stress and relax intelligence by playing with, learning about and exploring new things (stress), and understanding, remembering and mastering them (relaxation), all safely in the green zone. The stress response is what gives us the desire to learn and the neurochemicals necessary to do so, and the relaxation response is what gives us our 'reward', fulfillment, pride in achievement and enjoyment of the new skill or ability that makes learning worthwhile. When we're healthy, the neurotransmitters of the learning cycle keep us in this “growth & development” mode.

Think of the ‘stress response’ as a little light that switches on in response to any kind of desire. The desire to learn something new is indicated by interest, fascination, excitement, curiosity, inspiration. The desire to do something, go somewhere or interact with somebody may carry the same urgency weighting, regardless of whether your desire is about food, sex, solving a puzzle or getting your pilot’s license. It’s a desire to move towards, and interact.

Whenever you feel this way, your brain releases a chemical called Dopamine.

 

 

The blue sections are the various pathways taken by Dopamine; the “desire” half of our pleasure system. [N1 & 2 are marked in red].

 

Myth Busting About Dopamine

Dopamine used to be believed to be the 'pleasure circuit' or 'reward' chemical; only recently has it been discovered that the brain in fact has two part of the pleasure system -desire and reward. Dopamine and oxytocin trigger and modulate feelings of desire, serotonin and endorphins trigger and modulate feelings of reward.

In the light of this discovery, more research findings make sense, for example a dopamine deficient mouse will eat and enjoy food when fed, but has no motivation to feed itself to the extent that it will starve to death (8). Given the chance such animals will self medicate (cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol and nicotine all stimulate the brain’s dopamine circuits, as do stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin).

Dopamine is about drive and motivation, about figuring out what you have to do to survive and then doing it. The motivation is biology's way of getting you away from a state of deprivation and keeping you alive and thriving. It is also part of the brain’s salience filter, and will focus our attention on both novel objects and on familiar objects that we have imbued with high value, both positive and negative: helpful things and harmful things.

Dopamine signals various parts of the brain and tells them to produce the chemicals to keep your interest, attention and observation where they are supposed to be. Your mind needs to be alert, so your brain then releases chemicals that help it to focus and pay attention and that prepare it for fast learning; among them norepinephrine, acetylcholine, oxytocin and cortisol.

This is the “stress response”, and it is the first step in any kind of interaction, including all learning. If we cannot remain alert and pay attention, if we cannot concentrate, then we cannot observe with clarity what is going on, no matter how sharp our hearing or clear our eyesight.

This neurotransmitter cascade initiates learning and primes memory, focuses our attention and makes up feel keen, playful and explorative. We call the attendant feeling 'curiosity'.

There is no longer any doubt about the link between curiosity and intelligence. We even know the name of the chemical that enables this link; it's a little protein called NCS-1 (neuronal calcium sensor-1). It is NCS-1 binding to dopamine receptors that enables brain cells to communicate in a more efficient way, priming memory for complex tasks and triggering a significant increase in exploratory behavior (curiosity). (4)

The protein has its greatest effect in the hippocampus, which plays an important role in long-term memory and spatial navigation, and what we are looking at in the dopamine pathways outlined in the diagram above is the molecular link between intelligence and curiosity.

As one of the researchers who discovered this link said, “we can put into use the knowledge that fostering curiosity should also foster intelligence and vice versa." (5)

 

The relaxation response (RR) is the ‘fulfillment’ half of our pleasure system. It occurs when your brain chemistry changes in response to assimilation, success, satisfaction, fulfillment or understanding. During this response, heart rate and blood pressure slow, production and maintenance of brain cells increases, memory defragments and files itself by association, and cortisol production is turned off. Serotonin, natural opioids and more oxytocin are released in the brain, making us feel very comfortable and satisfied, yet still ready to interact.

 


 

During natural learning, this response occurs naturally, but when there is too much cortisol present in the bloodstream, it can’t. Effectively the response is turned off., so we have to hack in there and turn it back on, because the RR reduces cortisol levels faster than anything else. To keep cortisol levels healthy and under control before networks are balanced, the body’s relaxation response should always be activated deliberately after the stress response occurs. You can learn the relaxation response with various techniques, and you can also learn input control ‘habit-blockers’ in order to keep your mind from habitually reacting with anxiety in the first place.

Something else we are doing with input control is removing unhealthy sources of more cortisol production so that we can reduce it quickly and train up the brain safely and well. This is how we build up your “immunity to hassle”; by first removing the excess hormone, then learning how to prevent overproduction. We do this first by taking more control over our input, and we’ve already started to look at our lifestyles and think about changes that can reduce cortisol. We’ll continue doing that as we exercise these networks. As you build them up, you’re also building up your whole intelligence.

Every time we stretch and relax the brain, it grows stronger. So in the biological sense, stress is very very good –otherwise you would never be able to learn anything! But just like when working with physical muscles, if we overdo it, stress becomes strain (which is what the general public calls ‘stress’, hence the confusion). Repetitive strain always leads to malfunction and eventually breakdown; in the body, it leads there via injury. In the brain, strain is “anxiety”.

In its extreme form, the stress response becomes the fight/flight response (from an evolutionary perspective it’s very important for survival if you’re likely to be eaten otherwise). During emergencies when the stress response is needed, for example responding very fast to avoid an accident, the body goes into “protection mode”.

If strain becomes chronic (e.g., no relaxation), the body and brain remain in “protection mode”, have no chance to repair or build new tissue, and find it very difficult to learn anything new. The excess of cortisol keeps the mind very busy worrying about things, the brain in a state of constant chemical imbalance, and prevent us from paying attention to most of our input. In other words, when we are in protection mode, the mind is constantly flooded with an overdose of steroids, and growth & development are impossible because your entire biology is focused on protection.

Important thing to remember: it is impossible for the body and mind to be in growth mode and protection mode at the same time. One effectively turns the other off.

In growth & development “stretch” mode, blood flow and nutrients are sent to all networks of the brain, dynamically adapting to supply whatever networks we are using most (indeed, MRI scanning used to depend on blood oxygen levels to tell what parts of the brain were doing what). In the “relax” part of the cycle, blood flow is directed to the central networks where memory is consolidated and defragged, the immune system goes to work repairing any cell damage and destroying any toxins, nutrients are digested and proteins are built and transported. We learn well in all growth mode conditions.

In “protection” mode, Blood supply to the frontal lobes closes down as blood and nutrients are sent to the muscles, bones and peripheral nervous system. Digestion of nutrients stops, blood pressure and heart rate remain permanently elevated, the immune system closes down and all repairs and construction stop. It is impossible to learn well in these conditions.

We'll explain this in more detail in future tutorials when we talk about how brain cells respond to their environment. For now you just need to remember that if you stay in the green zone, protection mode won't be engaged unless there is a genuine emergency (although protection mode damages the body, it's still worth the payoff for biology to save your life in an emergency, and that's what protection mode is for.)

 

Cortisol in Depth

We've talked a lot about the anxiety hormone cortisol and it's time to look into it in depth:

Cortisol is not some kind of rogue chemical. It is an important natural hormone in the body in small doses, involved in the following functions and more: 

  • Proper glucose metabolism
  • Regulation of blood pressure
  • Insulin release for blood sugar maintenance
  • Immune function
  • Inflammatory response

 

Small increases of cortisol happen in the stress response and have some positive effects: 

  • A quick burst of energy
  • Heightened memory functions & learning capacity
  • A burst of increased immunity
  • Lower sensitivity to pain
  • Helps maintain homeostasis in the body


The protection mode prompts the release of cortisol all the time we remain in that state. While cortisol is an important and helpful part of the stress response, higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream like those associated with anxiety have been shown to have negative effects, such as: 

  • Impaired cognitive performance
  • Suppressed thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalances & diabetes
  • Decreased bone density
  • Decrease in muscle tissue
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body
  • Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat stored in other areas of the body.


Cortisol secretion varies naturally among individuals because its control is partly due to gene transcription, so one person may secrete higher levels of cortisol than another in the same situation. It also builds up in the bloodstream over time, so the longer you have been anxious the more you may have to get rid of. Busting the myth that worrying will make you thin, studies have shown that people who secrete higher levels of cortisol also tend to eat more food, and they crave food that is higher in carbohydrates than people who secrete less cortisol. If you’re a worrier or a ‘nervous’ person and you're overweight, it’s especially important for you to learn the relaxation response.

Cortisol levels can be tested with tech, but it's expensive and in the long run it's better to increase your own awareness of your body and mind (this is all part of 'knowing yourself'). It's much easier to assess yourself if you keep an eye on your habits and behavior; these will show symptoms of being out of balance often before the body will.

 

 


 

What Happens if Things Go Wrong?

 

All movement outside the green zone puts the brain and body in “protection mode” rather than “growth & development” mode. So how can you tell if you start to slip out of the green zone?

Q: What happens if networks 1 & 2 are underused? (left-hand column of the green zone table)

A: As you already should know if you've done all the tutorials, parts of networks in nonuse idle for a while and then begin to atrophy [that means you’re losing brain cells], just like unused muscles get smaller and weaker. As networks get smaller, your mental abilities deteriorate. N1&2 are largely employed in body/brain interface and if they are underused you will lack physical energy. You may lose your appetite, your desire for sex, and any interest you might once have had in your work or your hobbies. Your brain will be short of quite a few transmitters, among them norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin and acetylcholine, so you'll begin to find it harder to pay attention to things, even stuff you were interested in will seem more boring. Concentration will become a chore, and you’ll find yourself making excuses not to get involved in anything new. Fatigue will become a constant drag and you’ll wake up feeling like you haven’t slept. More and more you’ll feel you ‘can’t be bothered’ to do very much at all, and you may also start feeling sorry for yourself and blaming other people. It’s a short step from there to depression, ADD, personality disorders or constant apathy.

Other abilities that may reduce in performance or be lost: Your sense of direction, your awareness of rhythm and pitch in music, hand/eye coordination, response time & reflexes, self care & hygiene, physical grace, agility, spatial skills, balance, sensuality, satisfaction, sensorimotor and spatial memory, perception of details. You may also notice a change in attitude and behavior and find you get embarrassed more easily and your confidence is low.

A sense of timing and rhythm is an essential component of intelligence partly because it is an essential aspect of memory, but as we go on you’ll find it’s necessary for many other things too, including [perhaps surprisingly] your sex appeal and your self esteem!

 

Dopamine Deficiency

Fewer than 1 percent of all neurons generate dopamine, most of them in N2 structures like the substantia nigra, which helps control movement; (it is the shortage of dopamine cells here that results in symptoms of Parkinson’s disease).

Wherever they are, brain cells respond to the release of dopamine through one or more of five distinct dopamine receptors poking up from their surface, proteins designed to lock onto dopamine and respond accordingly. A shortage or downregulation of these or of cells on the production line will result in dopamine deficiency.

Another factor affecting levels is the dopamine transporter, a chemical that 'mops up' dopamine molecules once they have signaled cells. Drugs like cocaine block that transporter, allowing dopamine to remain in interaction for longer and signal more cells.

Individuals differ in every aspect of dopamine production and metabolism, and it’s often a lot easier to tell that someone is short of dopamine from their behavior than it is to find out physiologically why they are short of dopamine. It's easy to spot Parkinson's because there are clear physical symptoms, and some other conditions have scannable traits (for example low delivery of prefrontal dopamine is thought to contribute to schizophrenia, and low dopamine in N2 is marked by attention problems and lack of motivation.)

Prevention is always preferable to cure, and it's now becoming apparent that coercion downgrades the dopamine system. Healthy amounts of dopamine simply make a relevant object almost impossible to ignore, and in the conflict between following intelligence's promptings and society's redirection of attention through coercion, something's got to lose. Told enough times to ignore our own urges, interests and desires, we suppress them by downregulating dopamine. Unconsciously aware we're out of balance, we then try to put it back with recreational drugs, sugar and medication.

As you get used to practicing anxiety reduction you may find any craving for things like alcohol or sugary food reduces along with the anxiety. If you experience such cravings and they don't go away with anxiety reduction, you may want to work on building up dopamine production naturally and/or looking for the safest, most effective drug or method for you personally. It's hard working with low dopamine because your energy seems low, but it's well worth the effort for how much better you feel when it's up and running well.

 

Q: What hapens if networks 1 & 2 are used wrongly? (right-hand column of the green zone table)

A: Your mental abilities will again deteriorate if ‘wrong use’ habits push you out of the green zone. Wrong use in a network will also increase ‘non use’ in the other networks it is connected to, so the performance of the whole brain will decrease. Your perception is particularly subject to damage by ‘wrong use’; we'll discuss this later on in this tutorial and others.

If networks 1&2 are used wrongly, you can become ‘driven by drives’ –you’ll be overrun by too much dopamine and norepinephrine, and may be plagued with cravings leading to addictions or obsessions, which may be for food, sex, alcohol/drugs, gambling, sugar, violence, or any combination of these, and these drives will slowly override your common sense. Compulsively seeking input for one or more of them will obviously affect your physical as well as mental health, and will limit your intelligence accordingly. The malfunctioning networks will turn to more and more extreme desires, with an accompanying lack of real satisfaction that creates a vicious circle of attempted fulfillment. The more you get, the more you will want, yet the less you will be able to enjoy it; and it never seems enough. You may notice a shift in attitude and behavior towards authoritarianism. You may experience mood swings between arrogance and paranoia, or compulsive risk taking and guilt. You’ll be susceptible to ADHD, selective memory loss, and bipolar disorder if the condition continues.

 


 

Stretching & relaxing brain networks


When you habitually stretch and relax muscles in exercise, they get bigger, fitter and more efficient over time, and consequently your physical performance improves. Exactly the same thing happens to the networks in your brain.

How do you 'stretch' a network? The same way that you stretch a muscle -you give it something to do that is new suitable input for its natural functions, something just a little different, and maybe difficult, but that it can get the hang of with practice. The mental ‘stretching’ takes place when we encounter new or unknown challenges, and the ‘relaxing’ takes place when that thing becomes known, familiar and automatic. These events are marked chemically by the release of different transmitters in the brain and physiologically by changes in the actual networks themselves, making them more efficient at transferring and processing information, improving the speed and acuity of your mental abilities.

When we relax and assimilate new information, the brain restructures itself to store and co-associate our newfound knowledge.


You'll recall that our fourth golden rule is “cells that fire together wire together”. This saying was originally coined by Donald Hebb (6).

Hebb combined up-to-date data about behavior and the mind into a single theory. His theory became known as Hebbian Theory and the models which follow this theory are said to exhibit Hebbian learning. This method of learning is best expressed by this quote from his book “The Organization of Behavior”:

 

"When an axon of cell A is near enough to excite cell B and repeatedly or persistently takes part in firing it, some growth process or metabolic change takes place in one or both cells such that A's efficiency, as one of the cells firing B, is increased.”

 

This is often paraphrased as "Neurons that fire together wire together" and is commonly referred to as Hebb's Law.

Hebb's law explains how plasticity works. Put simply, it means that the brain uses coincidence for association; that is to say, events that occur at the same time as each other are assumed to be connected and so are associated in memory, and this association of ideas causes different networks to fire in synchrony even if only one network is receiving input.

We introduced plasticity in tutorial 1, as one of the most important processes of developing intelligence. If you have read previous tutorials you will know that plasticity affects ability and function (software), as well as brain cells (hardware) and also the genome.

Plasticity enables learning and memory, and is usable in NH for changing habits. You will also know that anxiety prevents plasticity, because plasticity usually takes place via epigenetics; interaction between genes and signals from their environment.

Researchers distinguish between 'functional' and 'structural' plasticity. Functional plasticity refers to neuronal activity; functions enabled, and communication in the brain, while structural plasticity refers to the physical shape, connectivity and density of the brain and cells themselves.

These changes are not only proven but measurable. There are marked changes measurable by Diffusion Imaging MRI in the characteristics of brain microstructure showing structural plasticity happening in only two hours, and this discovery in particular has been pivotal to the way scientists view the effect of learning and memory on the brain (7) (Scientists used to believe that the brain took days or weeks to change its microstructure.)

“Cells that fire together wire together” describes the mechanism of neural plasticity, and it means: each time a group of neurons fires together and makes a pattern, their tendency to fire in the same pattern again is increased –because they pay closer attention to their associated neighbors. Synchronous firing is triggered by association (events happening at the same time as each other.) The more cells fire together, the more connections they build between each other. Eventually, repeated synchronous firing creates multiple connections between neurons so that the slightest activity on one will trigger all those that have become associated with it to fire, too. A long term memory, set of associations and habit of thought have been formed.

When cells are firing, this is the 'stretching' half of learning. In the 'relax' half, new connections are being built as association defragments the new information and stores it in long term memory alongside other connected information. If you look at the neurotransmitters connected with stress/relaxation you'll see that we use more dopamine when paying attention and more serotonin when assimilating information. The transmitters are essential for easy learning, and they can only be triggered by motivation. This is why learning under coercion cannot trigger long term memory.

We recognize there is a dark side to the brain’s plasticity, because its nature makes it vulnerable to problems caused by the wrong sort of habits (wronguse and nonuse become habitual through plasticity), but we also know how to use plasticity as intended; using networks in the right way and practising helpful habits of thought triggers the signals for epigenetic changes towards optimal development.

Rather than dismissing ourselves as unchangeable creatures of habit, we now know that we can instead direct our own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things we try — the more we step outside of what is 'known' into the unknown —and return safely to the 'known', the more inherently intelligent we become.


Once you begin input control, you are literally in direct control of your own brain structure and function; the density of networks can be increased by focusing your input control on sparse areas, and networks in wronguse can be redirected to more beneficial activities. Once you have done an FA you should know where any sparse or wronguse areas are. You are able to direct your own development via input control, and you know what kinds of behavior lead to the green zone and away from it. Regardless of whoever and whatever influenced your development in the past, you are now responsible for whatever you become from here.

From this point on you are no longer an observer. You are a participator. You recognize yourself as Captain and as in control.

The impact of this responsibility cannot be understated. To return to our starship analogy, if you have not been in control up until now you will have been drifting; your course through life and whatever you have believed to be real and true may have been strongly influenced or even totally determined by others, all sorts of people will have been trying to pull you in to their own orbits for their own purposes, many of which are not in the interests of your wellbeing. In retrospect you may realize that now.


Snapback WARNING!

If you experience this realization suddenly, be careful not to get really pissed off about how much time you've wasted in the past or how much your potential has been denied.

You may not have been in charge of your own ship since childhood, or you may have no awareness of ever being in charge before, and things may seem overwhelming. It is precisely at times of sudden awakening to reality that snapback can happen, so we need to be extra careful to maintain emotional balance, and it's important to maintain anxiety reduction whenever you feel you have made a leap in understanding or awareness.

Instead of looking backwards, remind yourself that in the here and now most people are still stuck out there drifting, pulled about like leaves in the wind, whereas you now have an amazing opportunity to develop optimally without interference or imposed control. In other words Captain, it doesn't matter how long the mutiny lasted; or how long the Toilet Empire had you fooled; what matters is that you're back in charge and you know where you are heading.

Once you realize how powerfully input can shape your mind and behavior you will begin to realize the scope of your personal power, but that power can't be realized until you get your 'crew' in line. That's why you'll pay special attention to any sparse areas and get them busy so that they'll call in new recruits, and you'll take care of any crew silliness by hacking areas of wrong input and replacing it with healthy stuff.

It can also be startling to find that you're suddenly on the bridge in charge of your own ship, expected to cope with everything. You've begun to navigate your way out of society's asteroid fields of dodgy input, you have set a course for better things, but you're not quite sure what to expect next! Having been in this position ourselves, we can share with you some important techniques for staying on course while going through changes in awareness, behavior or attitude. Look for the section called: “Helm control through asteroid fields” in the hacks section below.

 

 

DO IT NOW

 

Fine Tuning Your Personal Plan

Here is a checklist to see how you are progressing and whether your personal plan provides everything you need. When you have done all the tutorials so far and started putting your plan into regular practice you should be able to answer 'yes' to ALL the following questions:

  1. Do you feel well-informed about plasticity or have you grasped some basic scientific understanding about how these hacks and exercises can help you?
  2. Do you understand how anxiety gets in your way and have you begun regular anxiety reduction practice?
  3. Are you aware of the benefits of input control and have you begun to implement it?
  4. Does your plan tell you what part of your brain and/or which cognitive skill you are exercising, and does it include a strategy for regular assessment to measure your progress?
  5. Is your plan structured, with notes on how many hours per week and days per week you're going to use it?
  6. Do the exercises vary as you go along and continually present something new?
  7. Does the rate of progress challenge and motivate you, or does it feel like it's all too easy, too boring or too difficult?
  8. Does the plan fit your personal goals for abilities you'd like to improve?
  9. Does the plan move you towards a more beneficial lifestyle on the whole?
  10. Are you ready and willing to do the program, or would it be too stressful?
  11.  

If you cannot answer 'yes' to all of these, you will know which areas of your plan need tweaking to tailor-fit your personal needs.

 

 


 


Motivation, Coercion and Unconditional Positive Regard


Incongruity Reloaded

You were introduced to Carl Rogers' personality theory and incongruity in tutorial 4. Incongruity is the dissonance between biology's “real self” and society's “ideal self”. We will expand on that here.

 


Incongruity happens whenever biology's needs and society's wants contradict each other.


Like & Dislike - Dodgy Programming

A great deal of science research tells us that organisms know what is good for them. Evolution has provided creatures with the senses, the tastes, the discriminations and instincts they need, if they are allowed to develop as intended. If we are healthy that’s what good and bad ‘tastes’ are – our own and our culture's likes and dislikes should be our evolutionary lessons made clear. Rogers calls this organismic valuing.

If left to their own devices, with examples from intelligent elders, animals will tend to eat and drink things that are good for them, and consume them in balanced proportions. Babies, too, want and like what they need. However, all our senses need to be calibrated by experience via correct expression of our genomes in response to correct trigger signals, otherwise our associations with ‘good’ and ‘bad’ will be false.

Although throughout our history humans have created much that is good and that has helped us to survive and thrive, anxiety has created the societies whose tendency towards lifestyles for ourselves are significantly harmful to both body and mind. In these lifestyles are such things as refined sugar, corn, burgers, cola and so on, that our ancestors throughout evolution never knew. Such things are currently introduced to most of us as children right when we are calibrating our tastes, so we end up (mis)programmed to 'like' the flavors that are presented to us, they seem ‘good’, yet they do not serve our wellbeing biochemically, physically or mentally. This is how what you experience can hack you, and this is true of our habits, judgment, decisions and beliefs as well as our behavior, and you'll appreciate the efficacy of input control in all these areas for restoring biology's defaults.

Among the many things that we instinctively value when we’re healthy is positive regard from others, Rogers’ broad-spectrum term for things like love, affection, attention, nurturance, respect and so on. It is clear that mammal babies need love and attention. In fact, they become dysfunctional or die without it. They certainly fail to thrive (i.e. become all they can be).

We also value positive self-regard, that is, self-esteem, self-worth, a positive self-image, conscious and unconscious awareness that our own behavior has rectitude (is beneficial). We achieve this awareness via feedback -by experiencing the positive regard others show us over our years of growing up and throughout our lives, and experiencing our own successes in achieving our aims. Without this self-regard, we feel anxious, and again we fail to become all that we can be!

Our society also leads us astray with coercion into conditions of worth. As we grow up, our parents, teachers, peers, the media, and others, only give us what we need when we show we are “worthy,” (e.g. behave in ways they approve of) rather than in the ways intelligence needs. We get cola when we finish our class, we get something sweet when we finish our vegetables, and most importantly, we get love and affection if and only if we behave as they think is right. Often aware that they are wrong (but that you can’t explain why and anyway they won’t listen) many intelligent kids grow up wondering how the hell so many of these so-called adults failed to mature intelligently in such a spectacular fashion and why the hell they are in this society that thwarts motivation at every turn?

Many not-so-intelligent kids (and adults) don’t have enough awareness or imagination to consider anything different. And for those who have already lost motivation, the problem seems too huge to contemplate.

Society regards us positively only if we conform to its demands. Getting positive regard “on condition” is what personality theory calls conditional positive regard. Because we biologically need positive regard for mental health, coercion is very powerful, and we bend ourselves into behavior determined, not by our biological organismic valuing or our actualizing tendency, but by an anxiety-driven society that does not truly have our best interests at heart (“Well-meaning” and “for your own good” though it may think itself). A “well-behaved” little boy or girl in society’s terms is probably not a healthy and happy boy or girl (and may well be on Ritalin).

Over time, this “conditioning” leads us to judge ourselves with conditional positive self-regard as well. We begin to ‘like ourselves’ only if we meet up with the standards other people or society have applied to us, rather than if we are truly actualizing our potentials. And since these standards were created ‘one size fits all’ without keeping each individual in mind, more often than not we find ourselves in an unworkable system and unable to meet them, and therefore unable to maintain any constancy of self-esteem. This affects the neurotransmitters in our brains, causing chemical imbalance, and depression becomes a danger. Society demands an ‘ideal self’ that is at odds with our real self; our biological self, and this always leads to incongruity.

Current research is just beginning to bust the myth of coercion being necessary for learning. Understanding the neurotransmission cycle necessary for learning has taught us that motivation must be based on genuine survival benefits. Financial gain not only fails to improve interest in a task –it appears to shut down the desire to learn altogether (9).

The recognition that artificial ‘rewards’, grades, payments and punishments have counter-productive effects is now widely accepted among psychologists. Such findings bust the myths that money is an effective way to motivate people and that any activity is more likely to occur if it is rewarded.

A reward for doing something that is also intrinsically beneficial to survival does not reduce intrinsic motivation. It is only when the rewards are based on performing a task biology rates as ‘harmful’ that motivation drops. This may surprise you, but people actually do inferior work and have mediocre learning skills when they are enticed with money, grades, or other non-biological incentives.

 


The Matrix Has You...?


People, in the course of actualizing their potentials, created culture. However, in the grip of disabling anxiety people have also created society.

In and of themselves, groups and group living are not a problem; We are optimally ‘group’ creatures, it is our nature to be cooperative and interactive. But when we created an anxiety-fueled society, it developed a life of its own, and many of our lives are now spent fueling it.

Some of you probably saw “The Matrix” movie. For those who didn’t: the “machines” in the movie used human beings as slaves to provide their own power, fooling the individuals into believing their lives were worthwhile and meaningful by maintaining an input of false reality to their minds. If you watched that movie and got deja-vu, or if that story gives you the creeps, consider this: A society based on anxiety uses human beings as slaves to provide its own power, fooling the individuals into believing their lives are worthwhile and meaningful by maintaining an input of false reality to their minds.

 

This is exactly what anxiety does.

 

Culture is deeply interactive and beneficial and includes the passing on from one generation to the next the collective group knowledge and experience; artistic, historic, scientific, practical, technical, creative etc. It remains close to and works with biology because it’s relevant to our survival and thriving. An anxiety based society however isn’t.

Rather than remaining close to and working with our biology, anxiety-society became a force in its own right, invented synthetic claims (e.g. “its evil to have sex unless you’re married” (‘married’ being a category it also invented)), and taught these claims as facts, creating fertile ground for incongruity.

We see no hope for intelligence in immersing itself in this system and just ‘putting up with it’ via nonaction. We can see the results on the health of those who do that in the latest depression, alzheimers, ADHD and crime figures (or by watching the news).

Using reward or punishment to coerce people into behaviors biology doesn’t like can never produce anything more than temporary (conditional) obedience, often kicking off the equal but opposite reaction of ‘if I don’t get rewards then I won’t obey’. In fact, the more society uses artificial incitement and coercion to try to motivate people, the more they will lose motivation and interest in what they’re being bribed to do. Incitement is not anything like as much fun as excitement (10).

Rewards and punishments are both coercion, and coercion slows intelligence down. What is needed is the alternative to controlling people -and it's not ignoring people; it's going with them and helping them to do what they want to do; nurturing their exploration of whatever intelligence is compelling them to do.

This is the difference between natural learning and coercion: it is the difference between inspiration and force; conditional and unconditional worth, and the problems for self esteem become obvious when biology needs us to be thinking, “I'm getting this reward (resource) because others recognize the value of my abilities and my competence, I have lived up to my own standards and my own real self is what is valued”, and society needs us to be thinking, “I’m getting this reward because I've been “good” (e.g.,done what somebody else told me to do, lived up to their standards and become their ‘ideal’.”)

Society’s basic strategy for raising children, teaching students, and supervising workers is based on conditional positive regard and an underlying unequal distribution of power. Do what we say and you'll get something nice, do what we forbid and you’ll get something nasty. Most adults try to ‘train’ young people in much the same way they try to train animals, and with similar results –the product is a dependent, clingy, immature organism with no autonomy and no mind of its own.

While manipulating people with threats and incentives seems to work in the short run, it ultimately fails and even does lasting harm. Our intelligence will not fully develop until we learn the difference between forced compliance through anxiety and natural learning through desire.

 


 

 

NHA Guide to Methods & Technology

 

Working with Chemicals for N1 & N2

There is so much stuff on the market for ‘mind improvement’ these days that it can be very confusing finding what you need. We’ll look briefly at relevant techniques or technology for the networks you’re working on in each tutorial from now on in this section. If you want to know more details, visit the relevant sections of the files.

A ‘drug’ is usually thought of by most people as either a ‘medicine’ that comes with a doctor’s prescription, or something illegal purchased on street corners from unscrupulous persons with suspicious haircuts, but we have to go beyond such stereotypes here and try to make a chemist out of you. (If you’re a chemist already, it’s okay to have a suspicious haircut).

In neurohacking, we tend to think of all chemical substances including drugs and nutrients as exactly what they are –chemicals.

All substances are potential drugs, in the chemistry sense. Sugar or salt can have just as profound an effect on the human brain and body as aspirin or sleeping tablets, and all substances, ingested or produced inside the body, have some kind of an effect.

It is wise to remember that many substances that are essential nutrients or life saving medicines can also be deadly poisons in higher doses. Plants were humankind’s first medicines as well as foods, and many drugs today are still made from plants. Sugar and salt are used to treat dehydration in many tropical gastro-intestinal diseases, but a pint of salt water on an empty stomach could well kill you. No chemical substance is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in itself; its benefit or harm depends on how we use it. Heroin has saved many an injured person from death through shock, and many prescription drugs taken exactly as directed have killed people via ‘side effects’. These days, hormones and even neurotransmitters are used as drugs, both in the medicinal and the recreational sense.

Thus we approach ‘chemicals’ in a purely scientific sense, because if you can get into that habit of thinking, your awareness of what you are putting into yourself and what the consequences are likely to be will be that much more astute. Herbs, drugs, vitamins, supplements and even food; we don’t make a distinction here because biology doesn’t –it will treat all things entering your body as exactly what they are.

Alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, caffeine and prescription medicines are all subject to different laws or rules in different countries. In some countries certain substances are illegal and you should find out what the laws are where you live. It may also be illegal in some countries to import or export herbs, plants and seeds and some herbal remedies. Some social groups such as Mormons or Vegans also strongly discourage or ban some substances and you should be careful not to offend.

You are probably using some substances to augment your brain’s performance in some areas already [for example coffee, alcohol, sugar, nicotine]. The common sense rule for working with chemicals is to always try to find the gentlest, safest, most effective product.

A big problem with chemicals is adulteration. This happens with prescription drugs, supplements and vitamins which can have all kinds of extra ingredients that might not be good for you. Supposedly authentic medications bought online can turn out to be simply colored chalk. Adulteration also happens in food and drink, and if you suffer from allergies and/or mood swings, this is one of the first places to look.

Here is a graph of the most dangerous substances commonly in use:

 


 

Some of these results may surprise you.

 

Latest (2009) Chemicals for N1 & N2

  • Adderall, a stimulant composed of mixed amphetamine salts, (is commonly prescribed for ADHD). Increases dopamine and norepinephrine.
  • Ampakines, which target a type of glutamate receptor in the brain; prescribed for memory loss associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s. Improve working memory, attention and alertness, improves communication between the two brain hemispheres.. Four structural classes of ampakine drugs have been developed so far, most useful are the racetam drugs such aspiracetam and aniracetam.
  • Centrophenoxine raises brain acetylcholine levels thereby increasing alertness and attention span and improving learning ability.
  • Cholinesterase inhibitors, which are already being used with some success to treat Alzheimer’s patients. Improve alertness and memory recall.
  • Desmospressin (see: Vasopressin) Bovine and porcine versions of Vasopressin such as Diapid (Lypressin and Argipressin) have been withdrawn from the World market. They are being replaced by a synthetic version called Desmopressin, (branded DesmoSpray or Minurin). Desmospressin has more potency and a longer half-life than the previous animal-sourced Vasopressin.
  • Donepezil (Aricept ), Improves verbal and visual episodic memory and sensorimotor responses.
  • Galantamine, is extracted from the snowdrop plant (a type of daffodil) and is used as an Alzheimer's treatment under the brand name Reminyl. Improves memory and learning ability. Inhibits acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine (the brain neurotransmitter necessary for learning and memory), stimulates brain nicotinic receptors, and reduces the build up of amyloid plaque (deposits containing amyloid peptide and dead neurons) in the brain.
  • Huperzine A (Huperzia serrata) is found in Chinese Moss and enhances mental functioning by prolonging the life of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
  • Idebenone, increases Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the brain. Evidence for benefits is sparse, although it is a powerful anti-oxidant it has side effects, possible gastrointestinal disturbances, dizziness, headaches, anxiety and uneasiness and sleep alterations. Green tea is just as powerful an anti-oxidant and comes without these snags.
  • Magnesium – a mineral found in nuts, legumes and green vegetables such as spinach – may be as effective a memory enhancer as genetic manipulation. The magnesium ion blocks entry to the NMDA receptor so more magnesium forces brain cells to increase expression levels of the more efficient NR2B to compensate. (12)
  • Phenserine, a potent acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Improves focus, concentration and alertness.
  • Picamilon, enhances cerebral circulation. Picamilon is used in Russia to treat anxiety, depression, headaches, glaucoma, and eye disorders.
  • Piracetam, Factual data on piracetam’s benefits for healthy people are virtually nonexistent, it is thought to enhance acetylcholine, and many users believe that the drug increases blood flow to the brain and improves association.
  • Provigil, known generically as modafinil, which was developed to treat narcolepsy, and Nuvigil, a longer-lasting variant of Provigil. Increases dopamine and norepinephrine, improves attention, concentration and alertness.
  • Pyrinitol, used since 1961 for various cognitive conditions such as dementia, head injury, stroke recovery, coma, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and cerebral circulatory disorders. Improves memory, concentration, and to enhance information processing.
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate), commonly prescribed for ADHD. Increases dopamine and norepinephrine. Improves attention & focus.
  • Vasopressin (& Desmopressin), Vasopressin is a peptide hormone found naturally in the brain and is partly responsible for the formation of memories. Its effects rapidly improve short-term memory and enhance memory imprints (i.e. after the event). Using vasopressin (nasal spray) 15 minutes before recall or concentration is required produces a marked affect, sometimes within seconds, which can then last for a few hours.
  • Vasopressin or desmopressin should be avoided if you suffer from cardiovascular problems, and only used infrequently, (i.e. only as necessary). Side effects include nausea and headaches. Caution, avoid the intake of large amounts of liquids when using Vasopressin, as the drug's “approved” use is to decrease the frequency of urination, excessive water intake can dilute salt in the body leading to vomiting and in the worst possible case- convulsions.
  • Vinpocentine, is a periwinkle plant extract that dilates arteries of the brain but does not dilate other blood vessels. Improves the brain's utilization of glucose, and increases ATP within the brain's neurons.


 

Best of the Mixes (2009)

“Get Smart”

Contains Huperzine A (an extract from Chinese moss that prevents brain deterioration), periwinkle extract, Aniracetam and Oxiracetam, which are both in the Racetam family, like Piracetam, Vinpocetine, Centrophenoxine, Picamilon, Idebenone, Galantamine, and Pyritinol (a drug used in Europe to aid healing in severe head trauma). Improves focus and memory, and enhances creativity.

“Learning Factors”

Contains tuna-fish–oil extract (omega 3), omega-6 fatty acids, borage oil. Omega 3 improves overall brain condition, assists myelination and improves concentration, memory and comprehension. Borage oil is an anti-inflammatory. Claims to contain 40 brain-boosting substances but most seem to be minerals and vitamins, which may or may not be chelated. Read the jar carefully.

Oldies and Goldies

Alcohol (ethanol) and Benzodiazepines decrease glutamate and increase GABA, norepinephrine and dopamine.

Alcohol has varied and diverse effects on the nervous system, including influences on membranes, ion channels and multiple neurotransmitters. So do benzodiazepines. Alcohol is useful for: anxiety reduction, controlling memory, emotion enhancement, confidence, euphoria. Side effects: decreased attention, loss of or alterations in memory, mood changes and drowsiness. Caffeine and theophylline reduce the sedative and motor-incoordinating side effects of alcohol (Dunwiddie 1995)

Benzodiazepines (including chlordiazepoxide and diazepam) are useful for: anxiety reduction, controlling memory, sedation, reducing the effects of alcohol withdrawal. They can enhance the effects of other drugs, particularly alcohol. Alcohol and/or benzodiazepines are not a good idea for long term use because: (a) it results in down-regulation of GABA receptors. (b) Together, they're a good combination for death.

Lay off sleeping tablets except in an emergency. They are bad, bad news, for your mind.

Nicotine, increases dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine, endorphins and acetylcholine (and if taken with fluoxetine, increases serotonin). Is useful for: Attention and concentration enhancement, anxiety reduction, reflex enhancement. Side effects are well known and largely due to oxidation; if you use nicotine you should use lots of antioxidants. It is actually safer to smoke nicotine with small amounts of cannabis than without!

Cannabis increases dopamine, anandamide, endorphins and acetylcholine, decreases GABA

THC acts on neuron conduction, stimulating polysynaptic transmission. Another chemical present in cannabis is cannabidiol (CBD) which may have anti-psychotic properties. Anandamide is involved in regulating mood, memory, appetite, pain, cognition, and emotions.

Cannabinoids are useful for: Controlling memory, euphoria, giddiness, relaxation, sedation and pain-relief. For some people they are also useful for anxiety relief. Cannabinoids are not a good idea for long term, heavy use because (a) you cannot remember anything, (b) the resulting neurochemical imbalance will lead to paranoia and lack of confidence, and finally neurosis or worse.

Psychostimulants (speed, cocaine, ecstasy), Amphetamines and cocaine increase dopamine, glutamate, serotonin and norepinephrine.

Ecstasy (MDMA) increases serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and oxytocin. Side effects: Electrolyte balance needs to be carefully monitored to avoid dehydration or hyperhydration. When intake of the drug ceases, the excess turns into a shortage.

Psychostimulants are useful for: euphoria, elation, alertness, attention focusing, mood-elevation, appetite suppression and fatigue reduction.

Opiates (morphine, heroin, codeine) increase dopamine and endorphins, decrease GABA.

Opiates are useful for: Pain relief, cough suppressants, controlling diarrhea, bronchio-dilatory, relaxation, imagination enhancement, emotion enhancement, and creativity.


Looking at the changes in neural function resulting from long-term use is essential when choosing your chemical candidates for neurohacking. Activation of the mesolimbic dopamine system is the cause of the euphoria initially produced by many drugs, but the increases in serotonin and norepinephrine transmission caused by some also contribute to the elevated mood. Choose wisely, and use with care.

You can use much more than drugs to enhance emotion. At the psychological end of the scale you can use music, movies, books or pictures. At the tech end of the scale you can use biofeedback, TMS, and neuro-stimulation. You can use aversion therapy if you want to. You can put various techniques together and go for a hard take off, or use one at a time to go step by step.

There is more information about drugs for different networks as we are going along.


Latest Research (2009)

There are over 100 compounds in clinical development right now focused on treating some form of memory loss. The most promising are looking at transgenic over-expression of the NR2B gene, which in turn increased communication between NMDA receptor sites maybe a hundred milliseconds longer than normal, just enough to enhance learning and memory. (REFSX)

Several pharmaceutical companies are working on drugs that target nicotine receptors in the brain, in the hope that they can replicate the cognitive uptick that smokers get from cigarettes.

Cognitive psychologists have found that there is a trade-off between attentional focus and creativity. And there is some evidence that suggests that individuals who are better able to focus on one thing and filter out distractions tend to be less creative.


Avoiding Toxins

We have already looked at food additives and toxins in personal products in tutorial 2. Here we take a look at pollution in your immediate environment.

We’re not just talking about car exhausts and coal smoke here…the worst pollutants affecting the brain (and body) currently are aerosols. Show me a household where a previously healthy person suddenly develops asthma, and I’ll show you a cupboard full of aerosols.

Air fresheners are pretty bad too…you may not know this, but those little cardboard ‘fresh-air’ or ‘de-odorizer’ things that people hang in their cars/bathrooms/office don’t actually make the smell go away. They work by blocking your nasal neuron receptors, and after a certain length of exposure the receptors die. You are actually destroying your own sense of smell by using the things. The worst part is, to people who don’t use them, you car/house/office still smells of whatever it did before you became unable to smell it!

As well as scents that we are conscious of, our sense of smell gives us vital input regarding pheromones/trace chemicals that we don’t actually detect consciously, and without those receptor neurons your amygdala can’t accurately compute danger signals (or even take hints). Do your perception a favor and avoid these things.

Metals are important, especially if you are suffering memory loss. If the brain begins to degenerate it can have trouble getting rid of trace metals, so avoid aluminium foil or pans, copper and brass jewellery [despite the rumors] and any unnecessary metallic packaging on food. Always wash fruit and veg –[either it is non-organic and has been sprayed with pesticides, or it is organic, in which case the insects probably didn’t bother climbing off it to go to the toilet.]

Nasty things get put into street drugs too, and are the cause of many deaths that then get the original substance a bad press. In some countries you can get substances tested to confirm what they are, or you can look into how to test things yourself. If you are ever offered anything from anywhere that you doubt the quality or authenticity of, don’t risk it. Some people are sadly very unscrupulous and you could be swallowing anything, including toilet cleaner.

 

What to Look For

Get your supplies from a reputable dealer. We recommend sellers that we have dealt with successfully ourselves in the “where to get things” section of the files.

Make sure any vitamins/supplements you buy are chelated and/or in liquid form.

 

Practical Assignment

Go through your home, and make it neuro-friendly. Locate and chuck out anything mentioned in ‘pollution’ above, and write yourself a shopping list full of brain-friendly products. [If you buy healthy food, you’ll often eat it by default rather than go shopping again]. Keep reminding yourself that you and your brain deserve the best.

Start behaving like a smarter, healthier person and (without having to do any work at all), you’ll find you have become one  :  )

 


Spiritual Advice

“A rat’s journey of a thousand miles begins with one little rat footstep.” –If you think you’re in pretty bad shape, or if things seem like an uphill struggle, don’t underestimate the power of lots of tiny little changes. Every single change you make is a step along the path towards optimal mental ability; towards entelechy. Even if you only achieve healthy long life and freedom from mental decline with age, you’ve still achieved something pretty valuable!

 

 


 


Self Assessment: What You Should Know by Now

 

Tutorial 6 (the next one) marks your transition from beginner to intermediate in this first set of tutorials. If you are going to fully understand and get the best out of future tutorials and pursue optimal development for your intelligence, you will need to know these basics before moving on. Here's a quick quiz so you can test yourself to see what you remember:
 

  1. How many factors of intelligence can you name?
  2. How many main brain networks does intelligence use?
  3. What is the main limiting harmful factor on intelligence?
  4. Which of the following does plasticity apply to: neurons, networks, the whole brain, the body, the genome, neurotransmitter production, personality, emotion, memory, intelligence?
  5. Name 4 epigenetic factors (epigenetic factors are things that alter the expression of your genome, e.g. turn genes on or off).
  6. What hormone does anxiety reduction decrease?
  7. What goes in comes out (epigenetics shows that beneficial environments and behaviors improve intelligence). What is the name of the main hacking method using epigenetics?
  8. Networks 1, 2 and 3 have related 'golden rules'. Do you remember which rule goes with which network?
  9. What are the main two ways we can slip out of the 'green zone' of growth and development?
  10. Why is it impossible to be in protection mode and growth mode at the same time?


(answers at end of tutorial)

 

How Far How Fast?

The assessment we did in tutorial 3 gives you a basic idea of how ‘fit’ you brain is starting out. You should plan your NH program at a rate that is sensible for you; just as you would if you were training up the body. -If you’re ‘averagely’ physically fit, doing a couple of push-ups is already known and automatic for your body, but doing a hundred may not be. On the other hand if you’ve been training for years and you’re a bodybuilder or an athlete, you may think a hundred push-ups is something to fit in before breakfast, and you’ll probably do a whole collection of other exercises automatically too! In just the same way, when you start to find that a certain amount of mental exercise feels easy and familiar, you should extend your ‘repertoire’ of hacks & exercises and practise variations on the same themes (ie, once you know enough, you can start creating your own exercises and hacks, tailored for you specifically). This is how we develop ‘muscular-mindedness’ –the ability to think fast in unknown circumstances and perform with excellence in those we are familiar with.

Stretching and relaxing is part of a ‘learning cycle’ that we’ll look at more deeply in the next tutorial, for now you should decide for yourself how much you should exercise your brain and how often [some guidelines are given in the exercises below]. Take into account your current psychology too –if you consider yourself to be a “bit of a worrier” or apathetic about trying anything new, or if you know that you are anxious for any reason, begin with the “chill out” relaxation exercises. If you feel too distracted to concentrate, or if you feel out of your depth with any exercise, stop, chill out, and come back to it later. Think about any aspects of each exercise that are hard for you and try to work out why, consulting your assessment chart. As we have mentioned before, for best success, you should treat the whole Intal program in a light-hearted way like a game, in which you progress through different levels by mastering the abilities and gaining the ‘treasure’. The only difference in this game is, everybody wins.

The exercises and hacks will all stretch and relax different networks of your brain in different ways. But, like an athlete who works on groups of muscles as well as individual ones, you’ll want to build up the performance of groups of networks together. This is what the assignments are for; they generally engage more than one network and sometimes the entire brain. So don’t forget, even if you’re exercising all the networks regularly, you still need to do the assignments to sharpen up your whole brain’s performance.

If you got a low ‘Whole brain percentage’ score and/or a high ‘N’ score for networks 1&2, you need to do the short assessment and exercises that you will find at the end of this tutorial. If you got a high ‘O’ score for networks 1&2, you need to do the hacks that come next in this tutorial.

Different types of input control for different networks:

Just as there are different drugs for different networks, there are different types of input control that work best with certain networks. Here's a guide:

N1: Responds best to sensorimotor hacks such as massage, REST and flotation therapies, dietary adjustments, vitamins & supplements, yoga

N2: Responds best to sound & light, physical exercise, dancing, martial arts, biofeedback, CES

N3: Responds best to herbal & chemical input, color, stories, pictures, movies, TMS, NMS, hypnosis & suggestion, aromatherapy, the natural environment

N4: Responds best to psychological & creative techniques, music, mindfulness meditation, group or interactive therapy, games

N5: Responds best to cognitive techniques, reading and verbal input, CBT, self-directed reflexive therapy, analysis

N6: Responds best to an holistic spiritual approach and structured strategy, meditation

All networks benefit from anxiety reduction.

 

 

DO IT NOW

 

Hacks for Improving and Augmenting 'X' Networks

 

Input control for N1 & 2:

Hacking the Genome for Physical Health – Weight and Build Adjustment

If you believe you’re overweight or underweight because of ‘your genes’, here’s where you find something to do about that!

You’ll notice that quite a lot of neurohacking hinges on epigenetics and turning genes on or off. Some genes need constant input in order to remain functional; for example, those producing the proteins that increase your muscle size need constant signals that the muscles are being used, or they shut down, and those that produce the protein that makes you store glucose as adipose tissue (fat) also need a constant signal to keep functioning. We can hack the transcription of both these sets of genes either by removing the signals they rely on, or by fooling them into thinking the signals are present when in fact they’re not. So…

 

If you’re overweight: Turn it Off

The signal the gene complex is looking for is fast-release sugars. Deny them this input for a short time and they’ll turn off. You can do that by following the low-GI diet with no exceptions for six months [after that you should be able to get away with eating junk some of the time without gaining weight, because your metabolism will have changed]. There are other ways to do this, for example fasting or Calorie Restriction, but as far as we can tell the low GI diet is the safest method for your health.

 

If you’re underweight: Turn it On

Muscle tissue weighs a lot more than fat does, and doesn’t endanger your health. So if you want to put on weight, you’re better off gaining muscle than fat. The signal the gene complex is looking for is physical exercise, but you can fool the brain into believing that you are exercising by watching someone else exercise [live or in a video] and imagining that you are performing the movements. How much muscle you gain will depend on how good your imagination is, so this is a good exercise for your imagination too! Even athletes practising this hack gain more muscle bulk faster than those who are just working out physically!

 

Notes on Diet

We advocate informed consent, so want you to be informed that if you decide to try the GI diet, you are hacking more than your neurons here –you are hacking your genome. If you follow a low GI diet for any length of time, some of the changes in your biochemistry will trigger gene transcription [i.e. it will turn some of your genes on or off]. The particular genes in question control glucose metabolism, and once you alter their expression you will find it more difficult to store excess fat, you will have a genetic tendency not to get diabetes or go senile, you are likely to live longer, and your immune system will improve. So, consider yourself informed. If you object to any of this happening to you, don’t try the diet.


Vitamins & Supplements

If you want to improve or augment N 1 & 2 you should begin with neuroprotective and supportive substances such as Omega 3, B vitamins and selegiline.

 

Meditation

It doesn’t matter what kind of meditation you choose, and if you follow any particular method already there’s no need to change that. But you might want to try other methods out and see what they’re like. The easiest forms of meditation we have found in books are those taught by Richard Hittleman in his ‘yoga for health’ books; these should be available from libraries for free or to buy online.

 

Biofeedback

There is a detailed explanation of biofeedback in the technology section of the library. Very simply it is using information about your biology as feedback in order to facilitate change. The easiest example is: Your body shivers –this is biofeedback, giving you input telling you you’re too cold. You respond by putting on a jumper, exercising or turning up the heat. You can also use a thermometer to see whether you are too cold or too hot –this is using technology to provide the biofeedback.

In biofeedback, there are two main modes of use, monitored feedback as input and preset input.

In monitored input, technology is used that scans (for example) your vital signs and represents the input to you as light and sound. This may be presented as a scale or waveform on a screen or a musical tone through headphones that tells you how high your blood pressure is or the speed of your heart rate. By paying attention to the feedback, you can learn to control your vital signs consciously and (for example) reduce high blood pressure without drugs.

In preset input, a healthy example is used as input, and may be audio, visual, electrical or magnetic. For example, a recording of a healthy heartbeat played through headphones will adjust the heartbeat of the listener. The best presets first match their pace to your own statistics and slowly adjust to healthy levels.

In neurofeedback, signals from or to the brain are used as well as or instead of from the body. Vital signs and brainwave patterns change together, so working on the body also affects the mind.

By watching the feedback from technology, we can learn how to control our body’s responses consciously, so we can raise our temperature or lower it at will, thus needing less exercise and fewer jumpers. We can learn to do this with many vital systems, including our brainwave patterns, blood pressure, neurotransmitter release and amount of tension. Thus, bio/neurofeedback is a really great tool for NH, and we’ll be looking at it further as we go along.


Sensorimotor Hack to Improve Confidence

Recent studies imply that our body posture can affect not only what others think about us, but also how we think about ourselves.

In one study, (11) participants were seated at a computer terminal and instructed to either "sit up straight" and "push out their chest” or "sit slouched forward" with their "face looking at their knees."

While holding their posture, they listed either three positive or three negative personal traits relating to future professional performance. Then they took a survey rating themselves on how well they would do as a future professional employee.

The results were striking. How the participants rated themselves as future professionals depended on which posture they held as they wrote the positive or negative traits.

Those who held the upright, confident posture were much more likely to rate themselves in line with the positive or negative traits they wrote down. However, those who assumed the slumped over, less confident posture, didn't seem convinced by their own thoughts - their ratings didn't differ much regardless of whether they wrote positive or negative things about themselves.

The end result of this was that when students wrote positive thoughts about themselves, they rated themselves more highly when in the upright than the slouched posture because the upright posture led to confidence in the positive thoughts. However, when students wrote negative thoughts about themselves, they rated themselves more negatively in the upright than the slouched posture because the upright posture led to more confidence in their negative thoughts.

Participants didn't report feeling more confident in the upright position than they did in the slouched position, even though those in the upright position did report more confidence in the thoughts they generated.

That suggests people's thoughts are influenced by their posture unconsciously; they assume their confidence is coming from their own thoughts, and don't realize their posture is affecting how much they believe in what they're thinking. If they did realize that, posture wouldn't have such an effect. In other words, sitting up straight has psychological benefits - as long as you generally have positive thoughts. So don't do this hack if you are feeling anxious; reduce the anxiety first.


Hack Your Posture & Circulation - Both Affect the Brain’s Blood Supply and Overall Health.

An often neglected part of physical health is your posture, which it may surprise you to learn has strong effects on your moods and state of mind. To preserve your posture and physical health, avoid:

  1. Regular wearing of high heels, they alter your posture to throw your pelvis forward.
  2. Carrying of heavy bags on one shoulder or with one arm only, which leads to a lot of back problems.
  3. Tight clothing, which has been the cause of many a deep vein thrombosis and can cause varicose tissue in the testes [ouch!] and the legs.
  4. Nylon underwear, which encourages UTIs [Urinary tract infections] and acne.


Your body is like a spacesuit that allows your brain to move about and interact with the world. Your life depends on it, so make sure it’s in good working order and it has healthy habits. Your posture is also subject to habit –and bad habits can be changed for better ones. Take a few moments to become aware of your body. You will notice when you are slouching or tense, and correct it. Do this hack at regular times each day.

A part of your body posture is of course your face! Habits of walking around looking grumpy or with your mouth gawping open can be hacked, but only if you notice them. Sensory motor exercises such as those given below will assist your awareness of your body and of stuff like this.

Walking is a great brain exercise because it is not normally strenuous, so your leg muscles don't take up extra oxygen and glucose like they do during other forms of exercise. As you walk, you effectively oxygenate your brain. Maybe this is why some people go for a walk to "clear their head" and help themselves to think through something more clearly.

Gentle movement and exercise increase breathing and heart rate so that more blood flows to the brain, enhancing energy production and waste removal. In response to this kind of exercise, cerebral blood vessels grow, even in middle-aged sedentary animals.

An important factor in your home is temperature. The human brain, body and immune system work most efficiently at a room temperature above 19 degrees centigrade [66 fahrenheit]. Keep warm when you are going out too –you may only be popping out to throw away the garbage, but sudden drops in temperature can also throw your chemistry balance.


DIY Neuroprotective Brain Tonic

You should be able to get these ingredients from supplement suppliers, pharmacies or health food stores. The following mix computes as the optimal neuroprotective brain tonic available according to current research. You can take these separately or together once per day.

Most ‘multi-vitamin’ tablets cannot be easily assimilated by the body and are a complete waste of money. You need chelated vitamins, preferably in liquid form. 

  • 800mg Linoleic acid
  • 500mg Acetyl-l-carnitine
  • 500mg Omega3 [preferably fish oil]
  • 200mg Lipoic acid [antioxidant that preserves acetylcholine]
  • 200mg Choline
  • 200mg Phosphatidylserine OR Glycerol phosphocholine
  • 050mg Thiamine
  • 050mg Pantothenic acid
  • 002mg Vitamin B12
  • 002mg Manganese
  • 001mg HuperzineA


 

Sugar-Craving Hacks

If you find yourself craving high-density carbohydrates, you could be lacking tryptophan [a chemical that helps to make various neurotransmitters]. Eat more of any of the following: Dairy products, nuts, seeds, bananas, soybeans, tuna, shellfish or turkey.  

A West African berry called Synsepalum dulcificum, also known as the miracle fruit, has an unusual natural property: if you eat one, everything you eat for about an hour afterwards will taste sweet. The berry-bearing plants grow comfortably in most european and US climates, and you can also buy extracts of the berry in tablet form.

The small red berries do not produce sugar. They literally fool the taste buds into recognising “sour” as “sweet” –this is a genuine perception hack. If you are overused to sweet things and not yet used to the taste of healthy foods, chew a berry first. That piece of honeyed wholemeal toast will taste like sugared cheerios.

Coconut oil also reduces sugar cravings. But it does make most things taste of coconuts, so have a little between meals; not at them.

When we say: “do it now”, we mean, like, now. -So think of one food or drink that is good for your brain that you don’t currently ingest and put it on your shopping list –or even better- go and get it. Now think of one thing you eat or drink that is unhealthy for your brain and remove it –you should replace the bad thing with the good thing. For example, remove the tinned fruit in syrup, and add the tinned fruit in juice –or wow, real fruit.

One sign that your diet is improving is that you’ll have less garbage. Most junky foods have lots of junk wrapping too!


Hack the Circulation Highway

You probably know enough about the brain’s needs now to start hacking your diet into one more congenial to health and longevity. Arguments about what constitutes a ‘good’ diet rage constantly in both scientific circles and the general public. The diet we recommend here; the ‘GI’ [Glycaemic Index; not Ground Infantry]  :  )  diet, comes with a caveat –no diet is ‘good’ for everyone. You will have to tweak your nutrition specifically to suit your own needs, and that may mean doing some research for yourself.

If you’re just starting the GI diet you may find that you lose weight. Don’t worry; this won’t continue unless you are overweight. Your metabolism will settle down and the only weight lost will be excess.


 

Input Control for N4 & N5

Psychological & Cognitive techniques

Can be useful for reducing anxiety and can help with getting rid of bad habits.

Within the huge assortment of therapies, there are two main traditions, psychotherapy and counseling. The distinction between the two is blurred, because for each type of psychological therapy there is a corresponding form of counseling -(psychodynamic psychotherapy – psychodynamic counseling, cognitive behavior therapy – cognitive behavioral counseling, etc.). In essence, different forms of psychotherapy have evolved to offer remediation of mental health problems and symptoms by structured interventions. Different forms of counseling emphasize the individual’s resources and lifestyle rather than psychopathology, with a focus on a reflective, experiential process. Concerns are rephrased and clarified in order that people may develop a greater sense of well being and cope with life difficulties more productively. There is emphasis on overall mental health promotion rather than ‘treating disorders’. 

You can find out more about Psychoanalytic therapies, Systemic and family therapy, eclectic therapies, integrative therapy, group analysis, counseling and tons more in the ‘techniques’ section of the library. Cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT] works particularly well if you’ve got a high ‘F’ score for N4 or N5 and a low ‘F’ score for N1&2.


 

Input Control for N3 & N6 

If you Have to Take Medication: Assess the Drugs Cupboard

Everyone experiences illness now and again, and some have to live with chronic conditions. You probably know how feeling ill can affect your mood. Some drugs can also affect your mood, and you should make sure you are aware, if you need to take medication, whether it may affect your brain and consequently your personality, and whether there is a safer alternative.

We often take medication on purpose; if pain is making you feel miserable or irritable you hack it with a simple painkiller, and if you’re feeling too tired and getting grumpy, you may have a coffee or a smoke. What you should remember is, every chemical you put into yourself will affect your own brain chemistry in some way. If you use a particular medication regularly, check out the Drugs and Chemicals section of the files for more information on this. You may be able to find a healthier alternative.

Illness itself obviously affects your mental performance; and mental illness can make you prone to physical problems because it lowers your immunity. Depression makes you more prone to many irritating little problems such as gingivitis, athlete’s foot, aches and pains, acne and mouth ulcers. It’s important to treat things like this immediately they occur, even though you obviously don’t feel like it at the time! Otherwise they can create a vicious circle of problems-depression-problems.

As you progress through this program you will find yourself becoming less anxious, more calm and confident, and more energetic. If you are on long-term medication for anxiety you may find at some point that you can reduce the dosage. You should always inform your doctor if you plan to do this, because some drugs must be reduced very slowly or problems result. Working with your doctor is the best way to go about things as far as that is possible. If you find you can’t work with or be honest with your doctor at all, do yourselves both a favor and get another doctor.


Hack Your Dream Life

We talked about how to make sure you get enough sleep in earlier tutorials, but are you sure you’re getting enough quality dream time? You need at least two hours of dreamtime each night. Try remembering what you dreamed when you wake up each day. If you remember your dreams or at least remember dreaming, you’re probably okay. If you don’t remember your dreams, increase your input of B vitamins for a couple of weeks. If you still don’t remember your dreams, there could be a problem with your memory. We’ll explore what to do about that in a later tutorial, so no worries. Meanwhile, go to your Captain's log and add an extra question beneath the golden rule “If the brain doesn’t get what it needs...” The extra question is: “Am I dreaming enough?”


Useful Hack for Cannabis Users

The reason why long-term dope smokers are renowned for memory loss is due to a side effect of cannabis on brainwave patterns in sleep. Memory loss can be prevented even if you smoke a lot, by making sure you’re not always stoned when you go to sleep, and sleeping for a natural period of time [i.e., so that you wake up naturally without an alarm clock.] This sounds strange because dope makes a lot of people fall asleep, but it’s not sleep that matters here, it’s quality dream-time. We ‘defrag’ memories during REM sleep, and cannabis can prevent us from getting into REM. When we don't get into REM we fail to defrag memories, and recall becomes as difficult as spotting a few zeros in an enormous space filled with random numbers...Unsurprisingly, some of them cannot be found!

If you've been going to bed stoned every night for a while, don't be surprised if you have very vivid dreams for the first night or two that you go to bed not so stoned. If this effect disturbs you, slightly reduce your vitamin B intake for a day or two until it settles down. [No cheese for you tomorrow!] :  )

 

Movies: Take Control of Your Entertainment (Especially good for N3)

Avoiding bad input is important, but the best way to avoid anything crappy is to replace it with something more beneficial. In just the same way, we must replace bad habits with good ones that are still fun.

For this hack, we want you to be a movie & music critic. You can take up to two weeks to complete the hack, but you should not take longer if you wish to reap the most benefits.

Choose three movies from the following list:

  • Apollo 13
  • Batman Begins
  • Blue Streak
  • Braveheart
  • Close Encounters
  • Collateral
  • Contact
  • Crocodile Dundee
  • Demolition Man
  • Demon Seed
  • Drop Zone
  • Entrapment
  • ET
  • Galaxy Quest
  • Hackers
  • Indiana Jones 1, 2 or 3
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • Lord of the Rings 1, 2 or 3
  • Mission :Impossible II
  • Star Trek 4 or 6
  • Star Wars 4, 5 or 6
  • Terminal Velocity
  • Terminator 2
  • The Abyss
  • The Blues Brothers
  • The Bourne Identity
  • The Fifth Element
  • The Last Samurai
  • The Matrix
  • The Net
  • The Rock
  • Total Recall
  • True Lies
  • X-Files:The Movie

 

  1. Watch each of the three movies on separate occasions whenever you have time. Try to do so alone, and have your Captain's log with you (don’t worry, you don’t have to write much!)
  2. After watching each one, you are going to vote on the following things:
  3. What character in the movie [not actor -fictional character] had the most physical strength?
  4. What character in the movie had the most physical endurance?
  5. What character in the movie looked the healthiest? [Not sexually attractive –physically healthy.]
  6. What character made the most sensible decisions in the story?
  7. How did the movie make you feel when you were watching? Excited? Bored? Horny? Thoughtful? Adventurous? Inspired? Tired? Energetic? Amused? Disgusted? Happy? Sad? Confused? Confident? Emotional?
  8. Did you really like the music in the movie? Can you remember any of it well enough to whistle the tune?
  9. Did you think the style of music fitted the events really well, or did it distract you sometimes from the story.

 

Note down these answers for each movie you watch.

After this you should try to watch at least one movie of your own choice every week. Don’t just be spoon-fed whatever crap is on TV –choose your own input. Pick the things that leave you feeling energized, calm but alert, not worn out. Beneficial input should increase your energy without making you jumpy, like martial arts do. Things that make you laugh are good for you too.

Consider how the characters behave in each movie, and whether you would want to behave in similar ways. If you find characters who are portrayed in the movie as ‘goodies’ but who are behaving stupidly, don’t watch the movie. Always watch stuff that inspires you to improvement, never stuff that drags you into apathy.

Your brain expects you to feed it input of good examples of how to behave. What are you giving it examples of if you let it watch stupid behavior, live or on TV?

If you’re in the habit of watching crap TV because you’re bored, turn it off and do something else that’s more beneficial for your mind. People fail to realize how much their intelligence can be reduced by whatever crap they’re viewing, not knowing that the brain unconsciously takes it all very seriously and tries to copy it!

Always choose examples of characters you respect and would want to emulate, in all areas of entertainment and in your real life. Don’t hang out with a bunch of dummies unless you want to be a dummy too! It’s actually healthier for you to be alone than to be in the company of people who behave in stupid ways. Obviously the best choice is to hang out with the most interesting intelligent people you know!

Taking control of your input now in these small ways is good practice for what is to come. Start making a list in your Captain's Log, of movies and music that improve your mood and behavior, and avoid input that makes you feel sorry for yourself or wallow in sentiment.

 

For All Networks

Helm control through asteroid fields (some important techniques for staying on course while going through changes in awareness, behavior or attitude).

 

Sensual Chill Out - Part 1, The Relaxation Response

With practice, this hack should cause the ‘relaxation response’. Practice the technique once or twice daily, but not within two hours after any meal, since the digestive processes seem to interfere with the elicitation of the Relaxation Response. Best done before sleeping, and don't worry if it causes you to go to sleep at first!

Lie down somewhere comfortable and relax. Turn off the phone, radio and/or TV. 

Close your eyes. Pay attention to any areas of your body that are tense. Breathe calmly and as you breathe naturally out, deliberately relax the tense areas, beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face.

Go over them all again and keep them relaxed.

Breathe through your nose if you can, unless it is blocked. Become aware of and listen to your breathing. Each time you breathe out, say the word, "ONE", silently to yourself.

Breathe easily and naturally.

Continue for 10 to 20 minutes. You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm. Do not worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation. Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace.

When distracting thoughts occur, try to ignore them by not dwelling upon them and return to repeating "ONE" silently to yourself.

When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes, at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened. Do not stand up for a few minutes.

 

If you want to practise this hack and you are on drugs, you should know the following:

1. Benzodiazepines, small amounts of alcohol, nicotine, opiates or cannabis may enable you to achieve your aim more quickly, but it will take longer for you to learn to do it on your own. It’s best to use aids to relaxation only if you need them.  

2. Cocaine, amphetamines, caffeine, sugar, large amounts of alcohol or ‘smart drugs’ will almost certainly slow the process down and may prevent it. These are not good choices for this kind of hack. Alcohol may have sleep-inducing effects, but it prevents REM sleep; this is why alcoholism is so devastating to memory.

3.  Chocolate, cannabis, LSD or sources of phenylalanine [in some drinks and chewing gums] could make you very horny if you do this hack. Don’t blame us if you have to stop for a w***.

 

Sensual Chill-Out - Part 2, Hacking Oxytocin

[If you want to know more about Oxytocin before doing this, there is an article in the files called ‘Oxytocin’, with information for you that we shall not repeat here.]

You can do the following hack together with part one above if you want to. It can speed up your progress, but some people learn faster by doing things separately at first.

Oxytocin is a primary hormone involved in the relaxation response. You can initiate its release in many ways, so you can choose which method you prefer.

If you want a ‘hard take-off’, Oxytocin itself is available as a nasal spray online. It should be administered at the beginning of the ‘relaxation’ hack if you are having trouble naturally relaxing or if you really are that impatient. Don’t get into the habit of using it regularly, because then you’ll become dependent on it for the response, which is not what we’re aiming for here. A cheaper way to cause its release is to eat very small quantities of foods just before the hack that you find very tasty [but not a big meal].

Preferably, oxytocin can be induced by any or all of the following: your favorite smells, soft light, massage, orgasm, or relaxing music.

    Spending time in oxytocin-inducing surroundings is something you can do even if you are not doing the ‘relaxation’ part of the hack, although we recommend the two together for maximum benefit. Basically, pamper yourself  :  )  -And remember that you are doing this for your own health and intelligence, so no feeling guilty about wasting time; time spent on wellbeing is time well spent.


Exercises for Y and Z networks


 

Self Assessment – Fine-Tuning Your Personal Plan

Which parts of networks 1 & 2 do you need to build up?

Look again at the assessment questions for this network [in tutorial 3]. There are four categories examined:

  • Health, fitness and energy
  • Senses and perception
  • Sensory motor skills
  • Timing & rhythm

 

By looking at the types of questions you answered ‘yes’ to, you can see which if any of these areas need working out.

  • Health, fitness and energy are assessed by the questions about your hearing, sight, sense of smell, sex drive, and the amount of care you take of yourself [from grooming and cleanliness to exercise, eating sensibly and making sure you get enough sleep.] If you answered ‘yes’ to these kinds of questions you can ignore the health, fitness and energy exercises; otherwise you should do them.
  • Senses & perception are assessed by the questions about physical contact and the enjoyment of sensation; textures, flavors, sensuality and, perhaps surprisingly, not having a fear of the dark. If you answered yes to these kinds of questions you can ignore the senses and perception exercises; otherwise you should do them.
  • Sensory motor skills are assessed by questions about your sense of balance, fear of heights, gracefulness of movement and ability to learn physical tasks such as sports, horseriding or swimming. If you answered yes to these kinds of questions you can ignore the exercises for sensory motor skills; otherwise you should do them.
  • Timing & rhythm are assessed by questions about your ability to dance, move to music and keep time. If you answered yes to these kinds of question you can ignore the exercises for timing & rhythm; otherwise you should do them.

 

You probably know already in which areas you are lacking. If you’re not sure, you can do all the exercises given below if you want to, but you should particularly do the ones that you find hardest, because if an exercise is particularly easy for you, you almost certainly have a sufficiently functional network for that area.

Most importantly you should do any exercises that you feel uncomfortable about, because the brain tends to feel wary of the unknown, and if a skill is fairly unknown to you or you have tried it before and failed, that is a dead giveaway of an underfunctional bit of network trying to stay as lazy as it has gotten accustomed to being. It will try to stall you with embarrassment or discomfort at first, but let’s put it this way –neurohacking is not for wimps, and you can’t expect to improve your brain if you can’t handle doing a few things you may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about. It’s precisely so that you won’t have to feel that way any more about doing anything beneficial that we are doing all this.

 

Q: We are often asked whether you should set aside a specific time for the exercises/hacks and do them all together, or just randomly whenever you have time.
A: It's up to you. The advantage of setting aside a time is that your brain gets used to it, and that's good, because it's getting used to a new habit, which in itself is practice for doing the hacks. The advantage of doing it randomly is that you can fit exercises in during boring moments such as on a train or when waiting for something, so your brain is kept busy instead of going through boring times. So ultimately, it's down to whatever you feel most comfortable with.

You should do a session of exercises once every day until you notice an improvement in your energy levels. After that, twice a week should be sufficient. Do not do any of these exercises within thirty minutes of eating.


Health, Fitness and Energy

1. Sit comfortably on an upright chair [an office chair will do] or on the floor supported by a cushion under your bum. Relax your shoulders and let your hands rest in your lap. As you breathe out, move your head & neck back but try not to move your shoulders, like a turtle withdrawing its head into its shell. Hold the position for a count of five, breathing normally, then move your head and neck forward again, like a turtle peeping out. Try to keep your face forward as opposed to looking up or down. Do this as many times as it is comfortable, up to five times.

This is a super exercise for people suffering from ‘internet neck’, that stiffness one gets when playing computer games for three weeks at a time, etc. It frees up and relaxes all the tension in muscles and nerves of the neck and shoulders. Neck tension restricts the flow of blood [and consequently glucose] to the brain, causes headaches, and exacerbates eyestrain, so it’s a good idea to use this exercise as a preventive as well as a cure!

 

2. Make a pile of soft things [cushions, pillows, your colleagues] about a foot [30cm] high. Kneel down in front of it and lean forward, resting your tummy on top of the pile and putting your hands on the ground at the other side. When you feel comfortably balanced, lean forward as far as you can and try to put your head between your hands, pushing up with your feet and raising yourself off your knees if you have to.

Do this just once per session.


3. The ‘shoulderstand’ yoga posture is one of the finest exercises for the whole body and brain.

    Even if you can manage to do this for a 30 seconds a day you will notice a pretty immediate improvement in your overall vitality right away. The boost it gives to the cardiovascular system is the main reason [and you will also find it improves your digestion, your complexion, and your balance].

Do this just once per session, increasing the time slowly up to a maximum of three minutes. Rest lying flat on your back for thirty seconds after the exercise, and get up slowly.

 

Senses and Perception

1.       Sit somewhere there is a clear long-distance view; either outdoors or looking out of a window. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, remove them. Hold your finger up in front of your face about a foot [30cm] away.

Stare at your finger for about ten seconds [just count to ten silently] then move the finger aside and look at an object in the distance, even if you cannot see it clearly. Try to focus on it for a further count of ten, then move your finger in front of your face and focus on it for the next count of ten. Repeat this at least twice.

As you get used to this exercise you can increase the number of repeats up to twenty; however, you should always stop as soon as you feel the slightest indication of eyestrain.

If you practise this exercise regularly and you wear glasses or lenses, you may have to change your prescription because your eyesight will improve. Make sure you get regular eye tests to make sure your current prescription is still correct!

 

2.       Sit or lie down somewhere comfortable where you won’t be disturbed. Your task for this exercise is to listen and observe. Close your eyes and relax. Now listen hard. Identify each sound you can hear from the background noise, including the sounds your body is making [do not do this exercise after large amounts of beer and curry].

Once you think you have identified all the sounds, concentrate on the thoughts drifting into your mind and observe whether you seem to think in words, or in pictures, or both, or in some other way. Observe what idle thoughts lead to what other thoughts. After the exercise, write down a few of the thoughts or subjects that you were thinking about in your captain's log.

This exercise will improve your working memory as well as your awareness and perception. You can do it for as long as you like, but it’s best to stop less than ten minutes after you get to the part where you start to observe your thoughts.

 

3.       Find some of your favorite music containing more than one instrument [i.e., not just a ‘solo’ synthesizer, lone guitarist or piano] and put it on. You can wear headphones if you wish. As in the exercise above, sit quietly and close your eyes. Listen to the music attentively. Try to work out which part of the sound is coming from which instrument/s. Obviously any sound made by a singer is easy to separate, but can you tell what other instruments are doing? Which particular instrument makes the sound you like the best? Which instrument is doing the most? Which the least?

Use the same piece of music for the first three times you do this exercise. Then change to a new piece of music for the next three sessions. Do no more than one session per day.

 

Sensory Motor Skills

1.       Stand up and raise one leg, clasping the knee in your hands. Try not to overbalance. Stay in this position for about a minute, then try it with the opposite leg/arm. Note whether you have a side on which it is easier to balance.

Next, close your eyes and see whether it is more difficult to keep your balance. If you like a challenge, have a clock with a second hand ready and see how long you managed to stay on one leg with your eyes closed.  Do this exercise once a day. If you find it extremely easy, move on to the next exercise.

 

2.       Stand up with your hands by your sides. Raise your right foot behind you [like a horse being shod] and try to grab hold of your foot with your opposite [left] hand. Once you can do this, hold onto it and raise your other hand, stretching upwards as far as you can. When you can do this without losing your balance, try it with the opposite leg/arm and then try the ‘eyes closed’ version as above. Do this exercise once a day.

 

3.       Don’t try this before you can do the first two exercises above! Stand upright and raise your right leg in front of you, taking hold of your foot with both hands. Place your foot against your upper left thigh as though it was in a ‘crosslegged’ position. Bend your left leg slightly to allow the foot to rest there without being held. Once you’ve got the hang of this bit, raise both hands above your head and press the palms together. Try this with the opposite leg/arm and then try the ‘eyes closed’ version as above. Do this exercise once a day.

 

Timing & Rhythm

1. You will need a stopwatch or a clock/watch with a second hand. For this first exercise you need space to walk in and you may prefer privacy.

Start your stopwatch or pay attention to your clock. Walk forward, taking only one step every five seconds, for a full minute. As soon as your minute is up, continue walking but take two steps every five seconds, for two minutes. Keep an eye on the watch and try and keep strictly to time.

If you really can't find the space to do this, you can walk 'on the spot' or on a treadmill at the gym, but it is far better to be actually walking, even if around in circles.

Next, try the same technique taking three steps every five seconds. Do this for two minutes.

Do this exercise once or twice a day.

2. You need to be somewhere that you can listen to music. Put some music on; any kind will do. Look at your watch or clock and note the time, then immediately close your eyes. Try to guess when thirty seconds has elapsed and when you think it has, open your eyes and check the watch to see if you are right. Note down how far away your guess was.

Use a different piece of music each time you do this exercise. Once a day is sufficient.

3. Sit facing a table with your hands resting on your knees and your watch or clock on the table in plain view. If you're using a stopwatch, start it now. When 5 seconds have passed, tap your left hand on your left knee just once. When the watch reaches ten seconds, tap your right hand on your right knee once. Continue for one minute.

Next, do it with your feet. On the five-second mark, tap your left foot, on ten seconds your right foot, and so on for another minute. Try to get the taps exactly at the right moment. Do this exercise as often as you like.

If you find this easy, try tapping along with just one hand in time to the clock -one tap per second. Next try alternate hands. Use this exercise instead of the above.

If you can do all this with no problem, try tapping along to some music in the same way. Choose something with a good steady drumbeat that sounds like a clock; not too fast.

 

Other good ways to exercise networks 1&2 into good shape: 

  • Martial arts. Any kind will do.
  • Watching a non-contact sport that you are not familiar with [an easy enough exercise for anybody], live or on TV.
  • Yoga
  • Dancing [even alone]
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Listening to dance music [with no vocals] or classical music [with no vocals] –with the exception of anything called ‘western scale atonal’.

 

 

 


 

Footnotes and Answers

*Note for AI students or those who use computer analogy:
 The cerebellum provides a mathematical model of transformation of sensory (covariant) space-time coordinates into motor (contravariant) coordinates by cerebellar neuronal networks.

The hypothalamus makes and delivers software applications (chemicals that make little subroutines run).

** Coercion: “Controlling of voluntary agent or action by force; government by force” (OED)

***(Childish –Immature; unsuitable for a grown person in good mental health. Childlike – Mature but maintaining the healthy qualities of a child, as light-heartedness, playfulness, frankness etc. )

 

Tova Solution

There are a total of 13 boxes

 

Answers to Tracing Root Behaviors
  • ? dressing up to go out: Serene & clean, assess & impress
  • ? playing football: Befriend & bond, create & cooperate, assess & impress
  • ? planning a garden: Create & cooperate, enjoy & deploy
  • ? inviting a new acquaintance to dinner: Befriend & bond, seek & squeak
  • ? SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence): Seek & squeak, befriend & bond
  • ? doing a self assessment: Assess & impress, enjoy & deploy
  • ? shaking someone's hand: Befriend & bond, assess & impress
  • ? decorating: Create & cooperate
  • ? swerving to avoid an accident: Fight & flight
 
Answers to Self-Assessment Quiz
  1. Factors of intelligence: physical senses and the brain’s physical condition, attention, orientation, association, imagination, perception, memory, emotional stability, creativity, ability to use tools, intellect / IQ, prediction, planning and strategy skills.
  2. Six
  3. Anxiety
  4. All of them
  5. Virtually anything! Examples include: food, exercise, drugs, sleep, posture, music, perfume, other people, TV, imagination, light, plants.
  6. Cortisol
  7. input control
  8. (N1) If the brain doesn't get what it needs, the mind won't do what you want
  9. (N2) Behave as thoigh it's happening, and te brain will think it's happening
  10. (N3) You become more like whatever you are surrounded by
  11. Nonuse and wronguse
  12. One turns the other off

 

If you easily answered all of these you will progress quickly, if not, take care to look up these few points and make a note about them in your Captain's log.

If you easily answered about half, you probably need to understand a bit more about some of these areas in past tutorials to make the most of future tutorials and increase your rate of progress.

If you easily answered only one or two, you may have difficulty understanding some of the material in future tutorials. Re-reading earlier tutorials will help, especially on these issues. If you feel the information is too sketchy, try the library files for related articles that might give you a better grasp of these basics.

 

 

 

References

1. Jude Mitchell, Ph.D.; John H. Reynolds, Ph.D.; Kristy Sundberg; Salk Institute for Biological Studies. September 24, 2009; Neuron.

  1. Adcock et al.: "Reward-Motivated Learning: Mesolimbic Activation Precedes Memory Formation." Publishing in Neuron, 50, 507-517, May 4, 2006.

  2. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0896627301005645

  3. Prof. John Roder of U of T's Department of Molecular Genetics, a senior investigator at the Lunenfeld, and Bechara Saab, PhD candidate at the Lunenfeld, University of Toronto and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital. Sept. 10 2009, published in Neuron. NCS-1 goes wrong in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

  4. Dr. Bechara Saab

  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebb

  6. REFSDr. Yaniv Assaf of Tel Aviv University's Department of Neurobiology, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Human Brain Mapping Organization in San Francisco.  Dr. Assaf's work was done in collaboration with his Ph.D. students Yaniv Sagi, Tamar Katzir, Efrat Sasson and Ido Tavor. Source: Tel Aviv University. August 12th, 2009 in Medicine & Health / Neuroscience
    http://www.physorg.com/news169297836.html

  7. Volkow, Nora D. , Dopamine researcher and director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Discussed in part at the Society for Neuroscience meeting 20/10/2009 in Chicago.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/science/27angier.html

  8. Alfie Kohn, a Cambridge, MA writer, is the author of “No Contest: The Case Against Competition,” published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA. ISBN 0-395-39387-6. For more information on this topic, see the author's website (www.alfiekohn.org) and his book PUNISHED BY REWARDS (rev. ed., Houghton Mifflin, 1999).

  9. Mark L. Lepper, Stanford psychologist; showed that any task, no matter how enjoyable it once seemed, would be devalued if it were presented as coercion rather than approached through autonomy.

    https://www.stanford.edu/dept/psychology/cgi-bin/drupalm/mlepper

    http://rer.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/66/1/5

  10. Richard Petty, professor of psychology at Ohio State University, Pablo Briñol, of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain, and Benjamin Wagner, a current graduate student at Ohio State. The research appears in the October 2009 issue of the European Journal of Social Psychology. More information: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/1823/home

    Source: Ohio State University (news : web)
    http://www.physorg.com/news173963842.html
    12. Dr. Joe Z. Tsien, co-director of the Medical College of Georgia Brain & Behavior Discovery Institute with Dr. Xiaohua Cao of East China Normal University; “Genetic Enhancement of Memory” published recently in PLoS One. Tsien's work is one of the best pieces of proof so far of the LTP model, because activating the NMDA receptor clearly leads to LTP. Here’s a short video showing the process of gene expression: http://www.hplusmagazine.com/articles/neuro/making-smarter-rat
     
Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 18:10