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Home Library Tutorials Neurohacking Tutorial 5 - Improving & Augmenting N1 & N2 - Stress And Relaxation in Rear Networks
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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


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 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.


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):




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 only (anxiety)

No learning

Natural learning

Forced learning (coercion)

Weak immunity

Strong immunity

Hyper immunity (eg inflammation, allergies)

No interests

Healthy interests



Balanced mind



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


Seeking benefits (N2)

Craving / Addiction

Unaware of dangers

Awareness of dangers (N2/N3)



Friendship & love (N3)



Defense (N3)


Helpless / Dependence

Cooperation/interaction (N4)

Coercion / Authoritarianism


Self esteem/confidence (N5)


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.




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)


Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 18:10