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Neurohacking - Tutorials
Written by NHA   
Friday, 20 July 2012 21:37
Article Index
Neurohacking Tutorial 9 - Emotional Stability & Unconscious Mind
Structure, Function and Behavior
From Automation to Autonomy
What Happens If Things Go Wrong?
The Unconscious Mind
NHA Guide To Methods and Technology
Getting Into The Garden
The Most Important Bits to Remember
Hacks and Exercices
Notes, References and Answers
All Pages

 


 

Neurohacking: Tutorial 9

Emotional Stability & the Unconscious Mind

(Updated: July 2012)

In this tutorial we’ll look at emotional stability and the nature of the unconscious mind, exploring further the connections between physiology, neurotransmission, psychology and behavior. To improve or upgrade emotional stability we need to understand these links and the nature of unconscious processing in N3.

We are also going to look at the core skills for emotional stability, the factors that emotion can provide for intelligence, and begin exploring unconscious programs.

 


 

 


 

Follow the Right Habit

 

“BE SENSIBLE” Reminder:

We are reaching a level in the tutorials where the theory will become ever more difficult to understand and the practice ever more difficult to approach, if anxiety levels are high.

If you know or think that you may have a high blood/cortisol ratio and you do not practice any anxiety-reduction methods, or if you don’t know what any of that means, it is not sensible to approach NH at this level. To do so could slow down your progress, rather than assist it, so please catch up on the basics before joining us here.

As always, the choice about what you study and when is entirely up to you, because we respect your intelligence and autonomy, but if you’re unsure, this is your forewarning that there is subject matter in this tutorial that those who cannot initiate the relaxation response may find psychologically upsetting. People can have especial difficulty if they are unbonded themselves or have unbonded children; particularly if they have high anxiety to start with, and this can cause snapback. This is why we should do things in the right order and reduce anxiety before approaching these issues from a calm, steady, centered and objective point of view.

Remember at all times that emotional and relationship probems are solvable and we are here to understand how and why they arise and what techniques enable us to solve them. Keep an overview on how you’re feeling and if you start to feel stressed out, stop reading and practice anxiety reduction before proceeding.

From time to time, you will forget all this : )

 

Practice Makes Networks

In tutorials 7 and 8 we looked at the processes of imagination, memory & learning and how new concepts get incorporated into what we know already via comparative association.

In abstract cognitive terms, the brain's plasticity enables us to learn new associations and remember new facts. In concrete behavioral terms the same plasticity enables us to learn how to do new things, and in concrete anatomical terms plasticity is what builds new connections between neurons and ultimately increases network density. The more connections we have in regular use, the faster and more adaptable intelligence can be.

The principle of plasticity, ie being pliable and receptive to adaptation, won't improve the brain, behavior or mind on its own. In studying memory consolidation, we learned that it takes a brain a critical mass of practice to get memory categorization perfect. Initially, networks grow connections in a similar manner to slime molds [1] -extending all possibilities in all directions for possible association, and then trimming connections back to the more accurate ones, as we assimilate the details of association (usually in sleep). It is looking like the neurotransmitter norepinephrine causes prolific connections to form, and acetylcholine that trims them down to the most experient network.

...How does a mindless brain chemical choose which connections to leave alone and which ones to trim away? It doesn't. USING new network connections prompts myelination (the insulation of axons by the protein myelin), which makes used connections resistant to pruning, whereas unused, unmyelinated connections will be exposed to the dismantling chemical and recycled.[2]

Use/nonuse/wronguse are thus the ultimate controllers of network architecture, cellular architectonics, and memory power.

Repetitive use (good or bad) is what ingrains unconscious habits of thought and makes behaviors automatic, both on the concrete physiological level of establishing new brain connections, and on the concrete behavioral level of human beings going about their everyday lives.

Using the brain as biology intended is what triggers the gene transcription factors needed for our ongoing healthy mental growth & development, as is so often the case in biology. Nonuse and wronguse simply don't trigger them. It really is that simple.

Use means receiving input. The unconscious mind expects our input (reasonably enough) to consist of an ongoing sampling of real world relevant events so that we can fine tune our awareness to reflect and respond to reality in real time, and in order that biology may adjust gene switching appropriately.

Remember, the overall directive of N3 is to adapt the organism -in this case ourselves- to better fit in with the needs of the environment, and a lot of this needs gene transcription. To this end, our minds will try to incorporate anything given as input ('what's going on now') into our already established and ever-expanding database of associated concepts about 'how things work' on N3's inner map. That's how it learns how things fit together and how the world (reality) works.

Obviously if 'what's going on now' percepts don't make sense when compared with 'how things work' concepts, congruous association can't happen and we hit an ideological dilemma and get confused. One obvious example of this happening in real life is people who claim to believe in heaven crying at funerals, another is your parents telling you to stop fucking swearing.

We also get an ideological dilemma when experience conflicts with information. For example if we know from experience that something feels good, and makes us feel happy and well, others telling us that it is wrong or bad without providing any sensible reason why, throws us into the same confusion. The only way to cope with this sort of chaos for the unconscious mind is to make false concepts and try to tie them in as coherently as possible with what we know already.

Networks are kept wired by practice (use). The helpful or harmful nature of that use is irrelevant to an automatic system, just as you can use an automatic weapon to catch dinner for your kids, or to kill someone, and it won't notice. It's up to us. We know that repetition prompts myelination (which is how both good and bad habits become permanent and addictive). But we also know that healthy use is the fastest way to rewire the brain.

 

We Start with Basics, Culture Provides Details

Loss of congruity is always a problem, but it is a particular problem in emotion. In adaptable systems such as emotion, diet, aesthetics and language, the mind has at birth only the basics, relying on input from culture and individual experience to fill in the details later. With language, for example, N3 starts off with basic expectations of some kind of language acquisition from its culture, whatever that culture happens out to be.

In most systems of this sort (eg language, emotion, behavior, diet) we find unity in the basics and separation in the details. The items are different, the events are different, because these are the details of an individual's circumstances in space and time. The basic needs and the basic processes (IF this happens = THEN do this) are the same regardless of spacetime.

This is one of the ways N3 helps us adapt to 'fit in' with our surroundings, so it doesn't have any details of what language it will need to learn, it just has an intent to learn one; and just like body language, verbal language only needs a model to interact with in order to learn.

This was interestingly although somewhat immorally explored recently by the doctor who taught his baby son to speak only Klingon (the language of a fictional alien race in Star Trek) for the first three years of life.[3] The child happily mastered Klingon, but as soon as he observed multiple others around him speaking English, he switched automatically to learning that (simply -and only- because that input was experienced much more often and triggered more congruous results).

Imagine what would have happened if the child was raised in a closed community for fourteen years surrounded by people only speaking Klingon.

Well, he would have only spoken Klingon, just like some people only ever speak some rare tribal languages, so no big deal you may think, but let's look at the facts behind that obvious truth: the Klingon language doesn't cover very many concepts or fields that humans interact in and its vocabulary is currently limited. He would have grown up using the wrong input to equip him with the language terms needed to grasp many common concepts and consequently common procedures.

On top of that he would have a database full of associations with concepts that did not, in his everyday concrete reality, produce useful results (such as, asking the local farmer to eject the warp core and fire phasers, going to the drug store for "something for Klingon 'flu", or explaining to the police that you were fulfilling the Klingon Blood Oath, maybe had too much blood wine, and may have been using the matter transporter without due care and attention.)

Of course, we know that ALL human languages were ultimately made up by humans, but every culture's natural language emerges intuitively from necessity of serving the purposes biology intended, ie to describe reality and the world and to communicate beneficially with our here-and-now culture. In short, Klingon would equip us well for living in the 23rd century Star Trek universe with Klingons, but not for living in the here and now on planet Earth with humans, because it refers to concepts outside our reality and doesn't adequately describe or communicate in it. A hardly incidental side effect is that this person can only communicate with others who speak Klingon.

A similar expectation of N3 to that of being given language details, is that of emotion/behavior details acquisition. Again, it only starts off with the basics to play with and relies on culture to show by example what sort of emotional/behavioral set it will need to learn in order to behave, interact and communicate successfully.

It has an inbuilt intent to learn such a system and will automatically copy any model given just as it will with language, taking as 'the norm' whatever behavior and responses (or reactions), whatever emotions (or sentiments) it observes in others and learning what names are given to the responses that it experiences most often and most intensely.

If we are raised in a culture where everyone feels alarmed at seeing snakes, we will feel alarmed at seeing snakes. If that culture calles alarm "glorying", we will call that feeling glorying. If our culture calls it "alarm", we will call exactly the same feeling alarm. Such is the plasticity of response to modeling and we automatically assume that others all feel the same way about the same things as we do, until we are developed enough to grasp the concept of diversity. We automatically assume that everyone feels the same things we do, in similar circumstances. After all, we are learning our own emotion set from modeling others.

We also get unconscious confirmation from the senses. There's more to modeling than meets the eye; in fact quite a lot of it meets the nose. We do not copy only outward behavior and appearances, our physiology also partakes in unconscious quorum sensing by picking up signal chemicals from each other, all the time.

This happens without conscious awareness. Many organisms use quorum sensing to coordinate gene expression and behavior, according to the density or activities of their local population.[4] In healthy contexts, quorum sensing can function as an adept decision-making process in any decentralized system, as long as individual components have: (a) a means of assessing the number of other components they interact with and (b) a standard response once a threshold number (critical mass) of components is detected.

This is another way N3 helps us 'fit in' by adapting to our context. We constantly adjust our own chemistry and physiology to be more like those around us in response to quorum sensing; via the unconscious feedback of odors and pheromones we inhale in air and absorb through skin (for example when shaking hands) as well as information from other senses.

This is how we can end up feeling more anxious in the company of anxious people! Our chemistry also responds to the tone of voice, appearance, attitude and behavior of all those around us. We are constantly on the lookout for better ways to fit in, because it's evolutionarily built into our biology to do so. Biology's (and our) success, however, depends on healthy input.

Learning responses (or alternatively, reactions) in this flexible way is all part of the mind and brain’s natural plasticity in helping us to adapt and ‘fit in’ with whatever circumstances we live in, just as we learn to speak different languages and develop different skills.

In exactly the same way we can be taught only Klingon, we can be taught only sentiments.

For example, if our society teaches us to feel ashamed about nudity, or guilty if we disobey the elders, or afraid when we forget to pray to the Great God Boom, the brain will do its best to make us feel, think and do whatever it thinks is ‘normal’, and these sentiments will become habits. Plasticity ‘wires our brains’ and tunes our behavior to be more like those around us because it expects what we are taught by others to be accurate and true and genuinely working for our benefit. It doesn’t expect to be taught a load of anxiety-based nonsense by those (theoretically) mature enough to know better, so this is not biology’s 'fault'.

Intelligence assumes everyone is able to be pretty intelligent, because in reality this is true, so it doesn’t expect that potential to be blocked or unfulfilled.

 

For You and Against You: Emotion versus Sentiment

In grasping an understanding of emotion, we clearly cannot think of it as only "our nature" (a personal, private, ‘inner’ state), because we have also experienced it as a dynamic system of moods responding to events and our environment, easily communicable, and adaptable to "our nurture", ie cultural norms. We know for example that things outside ourselves can “cheer us up” just as we know that we can cheer ourselves or others up. In fact, science now knows that emotion is neither just ‘nature’ (brain wiring) nor just ‘nurture’ (context) but that it emerges from the interaction between both, as does mind overall, and as with most emergent phenomena emotion becomes more than just the sum of its parts.

It’s pretty obvious even without the science that any intelligent creature should be sensibly equipped with a basic set of responses that are evolved to benefit rather than harm the species and the individual. We can observe the survival benefit of emotional responses in all animals (such as alarm or curiosity); but we won’t see any survival benefit anywhere in anxiety or sentiments; the behavior prompted by such reactions usually leads to harm and ill health for the individual and the species.

 

For You

Emotion is a mind/body state induced by hormonal and neurochemical triggers based on healthy (accurate) perception of contextual changes in reality, and resulting in the motivation to perform behavior that is likely to benefit the organism, life and intelligence itself.

 

Against You

Sentiment is a feeling induced by hormonal and neurochemical triggers based on faulty perception disabled by anxiety, resulting in automatic repetition of behavior that is likely to harm the organism, life and intelligence itself.

Sentiment views the world through anxious eyes and interprets input as much more threatening than it actually is, ironically shutting down the frontal lobes that assist in predicting and assessing real dangers.

Some harmful sentiments that can lead to mental (not to mention social) problems are: guilt, anger, jealousy, fear, shame, arrogance, possessiveness and obsession.

Immediately on hearing this most students ask:

Q: "Surely it's appropriate for a creature to feel fear or anger when shit happens?"

A: And the short answer is, no it isn't. It's appropriate to feel alarm, concern, offense, disgust, or defensiveness. These are real emotions, working for you, and the responses they cause will get you out of trouble. Fear and anger will result in shock, shutting down blood supply to the conscious brain and leaving the body on automatic to copy whatever aggressive action-reaction behavior it saw on television in similar circumstances. The morgue is full of unsuccessful automated puppets whose last words were unconsciously plagiarized soap-opera scripts.

 

A very common problem for neurohackers is initial difficulty distinguishing emotion from sentiment. This is understandable since most of us since children have been taught that they are all the same thing, so we may assume we have been experiencing only healthy emotion all this time and be unable to tell if we are mistaken.

Also, due to lack of a role model we may not yet have even experienced some of the healthy emotions. For many people there has been no example as yet to show or tell them about the distinction between emotion and sentiment. Key necessities for avoiding sentiment and enabling emotion include the ability to identify and recognize healthy emotion, and that is partly what this tutorial is for.

 

Healthy Emotion: Where Does Emotion Come From?

Consider for a moment where emotion comes from. At first glance, the obvious place to look if we want to understand emotion is inside our brains and bodies. Our real life awareness of the physical and mental effects of emotions tell us that they come from ‘inside’ ourselves. We can also see there is a direct physical link between emotion and the brain, because in some kinds of brain damage or illness, patients’ emotional stability is affected (for example depression, aggression, PTSD).

Yet we cannot deny that aspects of emotion, particularly emotional expression and the behaviors associated with it are also related to our context, to ongoing events and to our awareness of culture –emotion is moderated not just by where we are, who we are with and what we are doing, but also by what we have learned is “the normal appropriate way” to feel and behave and express ourselves about things, learned from modeling the examples of others as we grow.

Emotions largely happen in the context of social interactions with other people or media, and they also shape the course of those interactions. Often, it seems like something that happens outside yourself “makes you” feel unhappy, excited, surprised or pleased, and you notice how your own emotional response in turn affects what others do or say -and seem to feel- next. What’s more, it's obvious that our emotional behavior is regulated and interpreted in accordance with expectations.

 

What are Sentiments?

Sentiments occur when the brain is miswired and are usually due to anxiety or habitual unconscious copying of other people's anxious behavior (which itself causes anxiety). Neurotransmitters become unbalanced and consequently both mood and behavior (and hence life) may be troubled.

Sentiments take over the networks (and so the processes) meant for use by healthy emotion, using the same neurotransmitters, so a person cannot feel both sentiment and emotion at the same time. It’s very important to remember this, because we can hack sentiment by simply invoking the healthy emotion it has usurped, taking back the network, and discarding a harmful response for a useful beneficial one! That means we don't have to know very much about sentiments in order to get rid of them.

Sentiments are the behavior of a dysfunctional emotional system that is currently out of balance due to unconscious (and often conscious) anxiety and incongruity of association. But once we understand how healthy emotions link congruously with basic healthy animal behaviors, it’s much easier to see how sentiments are distorted reactions from an unbalanced (often under-developed) emotional system and how they lead to harmful, unhealthy behaviors.

From there we can start paying attention to our own behavior for feedback, and adjust our own emotional responses constantly towards the healthy 'green zone' of emotional stability. That’s why we're going to explore healthy emotion and behavior first.

 

 

 

DO IT NOW

 

Experience Congruity / Incongruity

1. Sit down for a moment and bring to mind a time when you had a really good laugh at something, and consider WHY it was so funny. What is one of the funniest things you've ever seen? Why was it funny? While considering this, let your mind get caught up in the train of association about funny things, then look at the picture below.

 


 

Now consider whether during this exercise your facial muscles have moved into a smile? If association was congruous, they did. If they didn't, deliberately smile while doing the exercise again. This will fire up the association pathway between these funny incidents and congruous emotional responses.

 

2. Sit in a warm, comfortable place with your feet up or lie down and relax as much as you can, becoming really lazy and floppy and sloth-like. Remaining in the same posture, without tensing any muscles, say aloud: "Wow I'm feeling so energetic and excited right now!"

Don't worry if doing this makes you laugh, this happens to some students.

Then get up and stand erect, preferably looking out of a window, with your shoulders back. Bend the knees and elbows slightly, like you are standing on skis. Now pretend you are about to start skiing. Tense your muscles, flex your fists, Look upwards, smile, and say aloud: "Wow I'm feeling so energetic and excited right now!"

Which posture 'made more sense' together with the spoken words? Did you notice how different it felt saying this in different postures? If someone lounging in the 'slothful' posture said this to you, would you take them seriously or assume they were joking? Why?

Why is the 'lazy' posture associated with a sloth?

Answering these questions will help you to recognize congruity itself, and you can apply that recognition to understanding congruous emotion and how it forms a bridge from inner experience to outer behavior.

 

3. (Needs a partner):

Stand up and away from any furniture or anything to lean on. Keep your hands apart and out of pockets. Relax. Take turns to explain to each other how to get to the nearest park, library, bar or post office on foot WITHOUT MAKING ANY GESTURES. The listener marks one point every time the speaker makes an unconscious gesture, including suddenly smiling or frowning. See how low you can get your scores! This exercise makes some people laugh a lot, so if affected you may have to take breaks to regain composure.

Use your NH ability: you can significantly lower your score by pretending to be a robot or Mr Spock.

 

Exercises like these can show you how unconscious our gestures and facial expressions are, and how body posture as behavior synchronizes congruously with emotion; all important for understanding emotional communication and for congruous association in general. It is knowing things like 'smiling makes me and everyone I smile at release serotonin' that give us extra NH options in creative interaction and input control.

There are exercises and hacks for congruous association at the end of this tutorial.

 

 


 

 

 

Structure, Function and Behavior

 

Motivation & Emotion

Definition: 'Motivation' means 'stimulation towards movement & behavior', and in neuroscience it refers to a particular set of brain processes underlying the control of behavior.[67] These processes are responsible for the selection of one particular (relevant) behavior from a set of several (possible) behaviors, and for giving energy, duration (persistence through time) and direction to that behavior.

The concept of motivation is applied both to behavior that results in getting something (such as food and water) and to behavior that results in avoiding something (such as a bush fire or a predator).

We know from experience that motivation does not need emotion in order to be effective in promoting survival, because we all have some hardwired automatically-motivating biological drives, like hunger, thirst and fatigue. All creatures from the simplest life forms are motivated by hunger to ingest food, by dehydration to ingest liquids, by fatigue to sleep, and by a full bladder empty it, without any emotion involved whatsoever. They can even be motivated to run away automatically if suddenly attacked, still with no necessity for emotion. Even plants are motivated to turn towards light.

Looking at motivation in its literal sense enables us to see the common features underlying the organization and control of what may seem on the surface diverse animal behaviors. The concrete processes that maintain internal homeostasis use 'drives' such as hunger or sex to motivate behavioral changes, signaling with neurotransmitters and hormones to muscles and bones that control external behavior just as they do to organs and systems that control internal behavior. All behavior is motion, and motivation means 'to move; to set into motion'. It's automatic.

An obvious example of automatic processes at work is that of dehydration. Loss of body water triggers both internal body changes and external behavior changes in response to the drive to relieve thirst; prompting motivation to seek and ingest fluids and, subsequently, correction of dehydration.

Maintaining internal homeostasis needs automatic behavioral control, as events within the body are always related to energy levels, and the organization of behavior directed towards the gain of nourishment is all about taking more in than you need to give out, in any given time.

Energy-economy and ergonomics of behavior matter a great deal to biology, and it insists on putting all of its potential wherever the greatest energy-gain lies, as it has done with great success for billions of years. Motivation, initially, is triggered by discomfort. A creature is not satisfied with the way things are, for example being hungry, and wants to change them, so it gets up and does some eating behavior. Automatic behaviors like this are instincts prompted by biological drives, and they don't need conscious thought or emotion in order to work.

As organisms become more complex, conscious awareness develops as congruous with unconscious motivation. As creatures associate tastes and textures and smells etc with nice or nasty, and their database of associations (memory) grows, they begin unconsciously to perceive the patterns of what things to collect and what not to, places where they can get what they want and avoid what they don't; and autonomy of choice is born. Conscious information is added to and augments unconscious information. 'Helpful to me' becomes 'nice' and 'harmful to me' becomes 'nasty'.

We know that there are different types of pleasure and pain in all areas of life for all senses (too hot, too cold, warm and furry, too sharp, smells great, feels good, too much dinner). Pain comes when we don't get what we need (not enough food or water), and we very quickly associate getting what we need with comfort and not getting it with discomfort. We LIKE comfort. We don't like discomfort. 

The neurological correlates of motivation are known to neuroscience, and one of the pathways known to employ dopamine is the key to understanding motivation.

 

 

This is the 'mesolimbic' dopamine pathway, which originates in N2's ventral tegmental area (VTA) and connects to a number of regions in N3 and N6, such as the nucleus accumbens, (N.acc.) the Amygdala (Amy) and the prefrontal and frontal cortex. The activity of this pathway is fundamental to the 'seeking' behavior involved in much motivation, regardless of which drive, motivation or behavior we consider.

 

The Amygdala & emotional weighting

When we recall a memory, it stimulates our mind and body to reproduce an echo or 'mirroring' of the hormonal state that went with the original event, and that’s the reason why we still feel excited when we remember exciting events of the past, and get that sudden warm happy feeling once again when we remember someone we love.

The ability to associate, learn and remember things is also the reason our ancestors didn't get eaten, giving us the opportunity to be here reading this now. Neurochemistry is the link between the physical matter of neurons and the electro-chemical signaling that all thought including learning triggers. Neurochemicals themselves are still physical molecules of course, but in neurotransmission we are seeing the interaction of matter and energy as surely as we do in a battery.

The Amys live in N3 in the medial temporal lobes and are below viewed from underneath the brain with the front facing upwards.

 

 

The amys are hardwired in to the mesolimbic dopamine system comtrolling motivation. They have a wide range of connections with other brain regions, allowing them to modulate a wide variety of behavioral functions. Some of the amys' major connections are shown below.

 

 

Some of the major input and output connections of the Amygdala. Sensory abbreviations: aud = auditory; vis = visual; somato = somatosensory;

gust = gustatory (taste); olf = olfactory.Modulatory arousal systems abbreviations: NE = norepinephrine; DA = dopamine; ACh = acetylcholine; 5HT, = serotonin.

NOTE: There is no need to remember all the names of these areas; we'd just like you to see how busy the Amy is. If you're wondering why the diagram shows stress hormones but not relaxation hormones, we are taking it for granted that our 'resting state' is, unsurprisingly, that of resting (& relaxation). We (should) default to this state whenever we need to, automatically.

 

One of the Amy's tasks is to determine what's beneficial or harmful and select the appropriate chemistry to promote the most appropriate behavior set when encountering either.

During emotional episodes, physiological and behavioral responses are triggered by activity in N3, and the Amygdala in particular. As you can see, the Amy is richly interconnected with other brain areas, and different aspects of the same behavior are often localized in different regions ('nuclei') of the Amygdala.

Most of the inputs to the Amygdala involve excitatory pathways that use glutamate as a transmitter. These inputs form synaptic connections on the dendrites of main excitatory neurons that transmit signals to other regions or subregions of the Amygdala, or to extrinsic regions. In addition, some of the excitatory inputs to the Amygdala terminate on local inhibitory interneurons that in turn connect with principal neurons, giving rise to feedforward inhibition.

The flow of information through Amygdala circuits themselves is also modulated by a variety of neurotransmitter systems. Thus, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine released in the Amygdala, as well as the balance of glutamate and its inhibitor GABA, influences how excitatory and inhibitory neurons interact.

Receptors for these various neuromodulators and the hormones they trigger are differentially distributed in the various Amygdala nuclei. Numerous peptide receptors are also present in the Amygdala, including receptors for opioids, oxytocin, vasopressin, corticotropin releasing factor, and neuropeptide Y. [5]

Neural energy transfer to and from N3 occurs in patterns that we can scan and observe to be constantly changing yet with certain regularities and repetitions. As input fires off neurons at different coordinates on the internal grid, the overall firing patterns across the grid dictates what patterns (percepts) the Amy recieves and consequently what concept-associations are triggered by those patterns in N3. All patterns have their associated weighting, and a big part of 'final weighting' is the Amy’s assessment of a pattern as being associated with ‘nasty or nice’, ‘danger or benefit’, ‘friend or foe’.

In final weighting the Amy has only three choices: ‘good news’, ‘bad news’, or ‘ignore’, triggered by and triggering different patterns. If some input pattern is to be ignored (for example because it is known, mundane, and unimportant like the ticking of a clock,) the Amy gives it no weighting at all and effectively treats it as though it doesn’t exist.

In motivation terms this indicates 'no behavior necessary'. The nature of all other input percepts is judged from the density and power of its patterns, and what coordinates of the inner model (and hence what concepts) they associate with. If association is congruous, the Amy will automatically 'know' which patterns are bad news and which are good.

There is no conscious knowledge here because in both advantages and dangers throughout our evolution there wasn't time to stand around deciding whether or not some shadow really might be a tiger, or whether that sexy cave dweller next door really was giving you the eye. For the Amy on its own there is just simple, automated, input -->response.

As we learned in previous tutorials, all our incoming percepts are scanned at first for comparison with ‘emergency’ patterns, then for what they have in common with the rest of the concepts in our database (what’s already known), and then for comparison with predicted patterns. As data in an ongoing process, they are constantly modulated by any new information.

‘Emergency’ patterns are easily recognized as anything outside the 'green zone' parameters for life and wellbeing; those that cause sensory overload. Since ‘sensory overload’ includes everything from pain to imminent death, they conform to ‘danger’ concepts in the inner model and thus motivate immediate reflexive responses to protect the organism; usually rapid withdrawal or protection (behaviorally, fight, flee, hide or freeze). This prompts sudden movement away from or towards, or sudden cessation of movement (for example when freezing or employing camoflage) in order to overcome it.

Nine times out of ten the response will be either freezing or fast movement away from; because we are ultimately energy-conscious systems and biology doesn't waste precious energy resources on fighting unless it really has to.

Loud noises, sudden motion towards us, sudden changes in light or darkness or temperature, and certain frequencies of color, sound or odor are all likely to cause an emergency response. Reflexes such as blinking to avoid items entering the eye or sneezing to eject dust use exactly the same system -automatic behaviors have evolved to defend us. In groups, automatic responses can trigger useful group activity via quorum sensing and (in more complex animals) also by alarm warnings in body language, facial expressions, and vocalization.

Without control, though, quorum sensing can pull us around with neurotransmitters and hormones and may cause some unfortunate automatic behaviors. Sensitive individuals who vomit when they smell someone else's barf or faint when someone else bleeds are well aware of how automatic these responses can be, (although our susceptibility to this also depends on our focus of attention and empathy in modeling). People with strong rear nets and good empathy but a weak network 4 often suffer such indignities.

If you doubt the efficacy of empathic modeling in quorum sensing, yawn on public transport. Score one point for everybody who joins in, then consider than none of them yawned because they personally were tired. Yawns are even transferable across species.[66]

So much for emergencies, which after all should not constitute most of our experience. All other patterns that are not 'ignorable' prompt the release of chemical cascades throughout the brain and body that motivate and modulate the type of behavior that seems required in each situation.

The role of the Amy in all this is simply recognition and response. Using random example numbers for demonstration here, it works like this:

 

Density / Power of Input Signals

    NOT ENOUGH                                                                        JUST RIGHT                                                                             TOO MUCH

IF n = < 100

IF n = 100-1000

IF n = >1000

THEN attach copy of patterns for chemical set A to data & forward

THEN attach copy of patterns for chemical set B to data & forward

THEN attach copy of patterns for chemical set C to data & forward


The Amy has no idea that the pattern for 'chemical set A', when read by its data recipients, will result in the release of dopamine up the mesolimbic pathway and result in behavioral motivation to do something, nor does it know that this happened because the organism was in an empoverished environment, input was too low and intelligence got bored. We just get up and automatically go looking for something more interesting and beneficial to do or somewhere more interesting and beneficial to be.

Both conditioned stimuli and emotional faces (expressions) produce strong Amygdala activation when presented unconsciously, emphasizing the importance of the Amygdala as an implicit information processor and its role in unconscious memory. But the Amygdala can't think, "Oooh! Shitshitshit!!!" when an 'angry face' pattern happens; it can't even think "if density or power n = >1000 then copy these patterns"; it can't THINK anything in words. It is like the dude in Turing's Chinese Room handing out preset responses (concepts) in response to input data (percepts) automatically without any understanding of what is going on and why.

The Amy, we feel, has had unfair bad press. It is not, as is commonly claimed, "the seat of fear" or "the cause of emotions". Many brain parts must work together in synchrony for emotion (or sentiment) to emerge as a result of complex chemistry involving many networks and variables of memory, association and experience. The Amygdala's task is just to recognise and pass on incoming and outgoing bits of code, very fast and very accurately. The Amy cannot think fearful thoughts, as it is not conscious. Nor can it feel fearful sensations, as it has no senses. All the Amy gets is code, and once again, garbage in = garbage out. Blaming the Amy for creating our fears is like blaming a messenger for bad news they deliver. Nor is it the Amy's fault if it only has a set of sentiments to direct motivation with rather than emotions, or if it's receiving false input, or if every decision it makes is laced with cortisol.[7]

Labrat experiments have badly confused the issue of what a healthy Amygdala does too because (a) labrats have high cortisol, unlike wild rats and (b) researchers label rats' amygdalas' aversion to them getting electrocuted as fear, whereas some of us see this behavior as quite possibly a sensible memory of and aversion to a painful sensory overload, just as we have ourselves.

A healthy feeling of alarm about encountering things that harm us is not fear. All this means in a lab is you've either got a panicking unhealthy labrat or you've got an alarmed healthy wild rat, and this proves little about the Amygdala's role in human emotion.

If we're healthy and well balanced, the processes of our mind, the sets of chemicals, the emotions we feel, and our human- (or rat-) level behavior should all be moving in synchrony towards the same goal; motivation to promote the benefit of the organism.

It is not the Amy either that determines how we respond, our responses emerge from biology's 3 billion years' worth of evolutionary experience-based programming, interacting with our current brain chemistry, our current context, and our processing skills of imagination, memory and prediction. The Amy's task is simply to open the behavioral gate to benefits and close it against dangers.

 

Nasty or Nice? Determining Benefit or Danger

‘Good news’ patterns for the Amy are those that fall inside the green zone for input density/power.

In other words, good input patterns indicate that the organism is moving towards optimal performance, success, and learning ability.

‘Bad news’ patterns are those that threaten or present sensory overload or sensory deprivation.

Good news and bad news is, however, ALL good input, as long as it's true. Input is meant to be accurate information from reality, 'warts and all'; enabling us to navigate away from the harmful and towards the beneficial. If the pattern is ‘bad news’, transmission patterns are recognized as no longer optimal and this in itself prompts the release of dopamine and the motivation to change things. But down at the bottom, the Amy is weighting input based on only one question: “Does this percept-pattern match this concept-pattern?" In terms of the whole organism, this translates as: "Does this situation promise to move me towards further improvement, or threaten to move me away from it?” This is what the unconscious mind as a whole is computing and predicting. And in motivational terms this means, 'what is important to pay attention to?'

This is the same question the mind is asking unconsciously as infants when we are deciding from experience what is ‘nasty’ or ‘nice’. It is always the same goal that a healthy mind pursues, because the evolutionary intent that makes sense for biology as well as cognition drives it to do so. Evolution itself is compelled to explore the same question across the millennia through constant variation, mutation, trial and error, because interactive adaptation to a constantly changing context is the natural course of events from which success emerges.

That's why we inherit the genetic potenial for building all the tools and abilities we might need to actualize that potential, including the unconscious database of our species' 'body of knowledge'.

The benefit of this ongoing inheritance for complex organisms is that intelligence constantly improves its ability to work out (both consciously and unconsciously) which patterns do and don’t lead to good outcomes in advance. The experience of ages has shaped the mind into a prediction engine simply because that is the system which best succeeds (by 'succeeds' we mean takes in (pays unconscious attention to) input and produces output that leads to thriving.)

This 'shortcut-to-success' predictive system brings an immense saving in energy-expenditure; a creature with predicitive abilities is no longer reliant on automatic responses to get it up the tree when the tiger comes or when the flood happens; it can remember where the tiger lives, it can predict the onset of flooding, and avoid the area.

This sounds like the bleeding obvious to an intelligence such as ours but this shift; from creatures with purely unconscious automatic control in response to environmental triggers, to creatures with autonomous input control and forward planning, is both immense and fundamental, brings the phase shift in processing that neccesitates emotion, and emerges from the fundamental needs of life following 'least energy wasted/best results' algorithms.

Automation can achieve some great things. Once a danger or benefit pattern is unconsciously recognized, automatic networks can respond so extraordinarily fast because they are literally wired to be mechanical; there is no thought necessary. All is automatic; it's literally as simple as a motion detector sending a signal that moves a robot arm or runs a needed application; a yes or no, 0/1 choice.

Simple, '0/1' choices can also provide all the relevant transmitters necessary to prompt the appropriate behavior for each basic type of interaction likely to unfold, for as long as input continues. Each selection of associated chemicals motivates one particular type of behavior.

Identifying the different patterns in density (how many items or events are associated in a given context) and power (how strong was the weighting of each event over what period of time) in input data gives the Amy enough information to know what chemical responses to associate with it, and also how much to release, because weighting is not just about what or how many associated events are going on, it is also about the power or 'importance' of events.

Often, N3 must predict the probability of ‘hazards’ versus ‘risks’ –all dangers are hazards of varying degree, but how high is the risk (ie, how likely is the danger to actualize?) Conversely, all benefits are potential opportunities, but how likely are they to really emerge?

A great deal of our experience will have a whole range of benefits and dangers in it, so population voting on probabilities by many individual neurons determines the overall assessment –in the end it’s just numbers of associations that match up, and their relative weightings. If the danger is ‘outvoted’ because the beneficial associations are dominant, the event gets an overall ‘good news’ rating and chemistry will be modulated to continue interaction. Population decoding of neural responses in the dorsal medial superior temporal area closely predicts this behavioral cue weighting. [8]

If the ratio between 'benefit' and 'hazard' votes is small, assessment continues via secondary asssociations until N3 reaches a decision. We engage in such situations cautiously until that decision is made.

 

Automatic Responses and Free Will

Some people find out about the Amy’s automatic response system for behavior and conclude that we have no free will. This is not true, because we are (or should be) able to bring almost all of neurotransmission, emotion and behavior (including automatic behavior) under conscious and volitional control whenever we wish to do so.

We don’t need to do that for events that are simple and straightforward –for example we don’t have to decide whether or not we want to dive for cover if somethng explodes, or decide to close our eye if a fly is about to hit it, for example –we can allow the automatic responses to take place in full conscious agreement with the Amy’s sensible decision! But if we need to run towards an explosion (for example to rescue a loved ally), a flexible intelligence should be able to consciously override that decision and change our minds –literally- quelling the unconscious motivation to run away beneath our more important conscious intent to rescue the ally. That very intent should change our neurochemistry, putting our minds and bodies into the optimal state for heroics. This can only happen if the system 'gets the message', and the message is modulated by emotional weighting.

In more complex organisms with conscious association, the automatic system is (or should be) only a default for basics; to be used as long as nothing more is required. Over and above all this, we are (or we should be) in charge. Our ability to assert control in physical, chemical, emotional and behavioral ways IS free will; the autonomy of self to control our response and our own behavior -to be responsive is to 'take responsibility' for, and use our abilities in, our own interactions.

If we have developed that autonomy and are using it, then we have free will. If we haven't, we don't. The question, "do humans have free will?" can only be uncomfortably but honestly answered, "Only if they bother to develop it."

Becoming who you have the potential to be takes time and effort. That's why our self esteem and confidence go up so much when we achieve it. Dudes who are good at ANYTHING do it a lot.

Input control is one aspect of 'free will'; autonomy of input means that you control exactly what you want to 'take in', whenever you need to, wherever you need to.

Other aspects of free will you should be practising at this level are self-autonomy (control of what goes on inside your own body & mind) most usually achieved via biofeedback methods or devices; and autonomy of output on a behavioral level, including voluntary control of your own appearance, tone of voice, facial expressions, movements, postures, breathing patterns, relaxation response and habits of sleeping and eating. This is personal freedom, and freedom from anxiety is part of it too.

We can also harness the power of the automatic response system to enhance our cognitive abilities, but more on that later...

The more we know about our power to interact with our 'circumstances', the more freedom we have to change them. At this stage, you should be taking over direction of your own attention, your own orientation and your own behavior. The more you do this, the more you will take pride in taking care of youself and your situation, and the greater will be your self esteem and confidence.

Note: It's kind of obvious through experience that we can increase our ability to direct what we pay attention to, given a bit of experience and practice, but many students have difficulty understanding what 'orientation' means. On the concrete physical level it means (as Master Yoda said) keeping your mind on where you are and what you are doing in the here and now, but it also means tuning out distractions and moving your body to keep your senses attuned to whatever you are attending to, whether its pedaling a bike or peering down a microscope. Attention is like staring at a picture, orientation is like keeping track of items in a moving sequence of pictures. Together they enable concentration to become automatic, freeing up networks for observation of details.

For a 'full interactive view' of reality, and to develop these skills to their optimal we need all six networks functioning in complementary unison doing their intended processes, because we need the unconscious mind (using most of the brain) to behave in accordance and agreement with the conscious mind, we need our input to be totally relevant to our needs, and we need our output (behavior) to be totally relevant to circumstances.

Using the skills of our frontal nets to control the behavior of our rear ones is all part of ongoing NH development and the old-fashioned names for this ability are 'self control' or 'willpower'. Exercising this power is expressing free will. It means you are free from being dragged around by anxiety about other people's (or societys') sentiments, opinions, or intentions.

Below is an MRI of someone exerting self control [110]

 


 

It is plain to see via MRI when this ability is absent, but long before we had the benefit of MRI, lack of self control was observable in behavior. It will become ever more obvious to you from your own observations that there is a large difference in ability between those who can exert self control in behavior and those who cannot, particularly when sentiment (and often when alcohol) is involved.

You'll also notice differences between people in attention control, emotional control, and adaptation around distractions. Meanwhile, your own control of your self will be constantly improving. But don't forget we need to exercise these abilities regularly in order to keep those networks connecting.

To have autonomy, we need to be able to assert conscious control in modulating what are normally unconscious processes, and working from the bottom up we start by achieving physical and chemical balance (that's why we have been doing via anxiety reduction and input control), in order to develop the foundational tools for emotional stability.

There are exercises for improving autonomy ('willpower') at the end of this tutorial.

 


 

DO IT NOW


Consider what techniques you know for:

(a) making yourself feel sexually aroused

(b) calming yourself down and relaxing

(c) cheering yourself up

(d) feeling joy, love and appreciation

(e) inspiring yourself

(f) making yourself feel more confident

 

If you don't yet know how to do any of these, you shouldn't be doing intermediate tutorials yet.

Chances are you know how to do most of them, but most westerners find they are not as fast at learning ways of turning feelings down or off as they are at learning to intitiate them or turn them on. Thus its often harder to calm down than it is to get excited.

This is not genetic, it is caused by society's (including parents') influences on birth and upbringing. Most westerners overdevelop networks 2 and/or 5 due to schooling, these are useful for the stress half of the stress-relaxation response, but in this case at the expense of networks 1 & 4, which we need for focused control, creativity and relaxation (not to mention nurturing, including self-nurturing.)

People from cultures that once promoted meditation and relaxation techniques as a matter of everyday habit once used to find it hard to understand how westerners get anxious so easily, many are now learning by experience, as western-style society brings them constant coercion and impoverished (urban) environments, supplemented with sleep-interruption, a western work ethic and dire nutrition. A few years of that and they'll be just as anxious and full of cortisol as the best of the west.

 

Motivation and Behavior: the Emotional Connection

'Motivation' refers to unconscious processes underlying our conscious interactive engagement with the world. Automatically-triggered motivation relates closely to homeostasis and results in instinctual, unconscious behaviors that help to steer us away from dangers and towards benefits.

 

Objects in Motion

Behavior is all about objects in motion through spacetime. Behavior is perceived by unconsciously attaching a frame of reference (context) to an object (agent) and measuring the agents' change in position relative to another reference frame.

Nothing in the universe appears to be able to exhibit behavior (move) without energy (a force). Newton's laws describe the relationship between the forces acting on a body and the motion of that body. Humans, like all things in the universe are in constant motion,[9] and aside from obvious movements of external body parts and locomotion, humans are in motion internally in a variety of ways which are more difficult to perceive without the help of special tools and careful observation.


Micromuscular Responses

Researchers [10] filmed newborn infants as the babies listened to various sounds. Their analysis showed all healthy infants displayed micromuscular responses (micromovements) in response to the phonemes ('bits') of language, in synchrony with the rhythms of human speech.

Every person's micromovement repertoire is as individual as their fingerprints, and they last for our whole lives. Random noise, rhythmic tapping, or disconnected vowel sounds will not produce this "language-response-dance." Only the natural rhythms of human speech have this effect. The same muscle moves in response to the same phoneme each time the phoneme sounds, like an automatic coupling between specific sensory input and specific motor response.

The tendency in research on this was to first attempt to find correlations between brain activity and these micromovements, but knowing that still didn't explain how the experience of the organism in real life is integrated, organized, and finds its meaning in terms of coordinated movement (appropriate behaviors),[11] just as knowing the correlations between structure and function in perception fails to explain how consciousness ties all the fragments together into a seamless ongoing experience.

 

Reality: World as It Is

As we already learned in previous tutorials, our perceived environment and lived experience emerge as end-products of processing. They are not just the 'processes in our brains'; nor the 'input from out there'. They emerge from the interaction between the two.[29]

Innate and adaptive behaviors of animals as individuals and socially have been described in detail over the past two centuries [12]. The behavior of an animal is intrinsically creative and cooperative with the organisms wellbeing always in mind.[13]

Organisms move with good purpose; that is, they are automatically driven by intent to interact in ways that will be beneficial to themselves and their context. Purposeful behavior driven by biological intent is not action/reaction, or 'conditioning behavior' teaching us to react faster. It is interaction. Living organisms move with congruous intent directed by natural entelechy through interaction and imaginative conscious experience of the world they move in, their functions held together by patterns of 'horizontal control'. [14]

Sensing the world as context space in relation to the form and displacements of events and objects endowed with material bodies, they have a hardwired intent to be curious about their surroundings and the objects in it, feeling with intrinsic emotional weighting based on real evolutionary experience how to avoid harm and to gain benefits from what life offers. They seek what all life seeks; a a state of interactive and yet secure wellbeing; the optimal conditions for growth & development.

This is the nature of all animal unconscious self-awareness, including ours. It depends upon sensorimotor signals formulating movements in prescribed ways [15] while anticipating what it will feel like to move in those ways, [16] on perceiving affordances (how the sensed environment can help behavior achieve its goals),[17] and on intrinsic unconscious awareness that is generated according to ancient innate evolutionary principles in the core neurochemistry of the brain.[18]

Animals that live in groups have evolved ways of interacting, of moving in complementary or coordinated ways and sensing the power and purposes of one another's movements intersubjectively, so that, by cooperating in their motives, they can increase their individual and collective benefits and their adaptation in and of a sustaining ecology. They make their autonomic and deliberate self-regulations of vital state apparent to one another, so they can interact emotionally in empathetic (and successful) ways.[19]

Their interactive life requires that they evaluate the purposes of one another by detecting intent, interests, likes, dislikes and responses from the energetic and self-regulating qualities of each other's movements, alteroceptively (unconsciously). They are born with adaptations of body and brain to initiate both individual and cooperative purposes by producing controlled effects in motion (behavior).[20]

Human beings, having evolved in group cultures, do all of these things, and a lot more. The cooperative cultural experience of a meaningful world depends, in every human community, upon skills of interest, initiative in interaction and emotional evaluations that have been created and 'fine tuned' by all past generations' experience in the evolution of their world [21]

Even as very young infants, we communicate with an artful imagination ready to pick up new expressive tricks. [22] Neonatal hands make many delicate movements in 'self-synchrony' with other body movements, face expressions and vocalizations, and these movements are capable of empathetic 'inter-synchrony', with the movements of looking and speaking of an adult.[23]

All these innate gestural and vocal expressions exhibit coordination by an 'intrinsic motive pulse', a time sense generated and regulated in the brain,[24] with variations of 'vitality

dynamics'.[25] The changes in direction, rate, power and combination of movements are highly significant in communication as expressions of different motivations, abilities, and needs,[26] and all these parameters are controlled with precision in the movements of infants.

Accurate recording via neurotech of how behaviors unfold in time and space reveals that there is a consistent regulation by 'motor images'[27] and that these can be described with remarkable economy and precision by a mathematical formula called the 'tauG' function.[28] Variation of form in the family of curves described by the function can be closely compared to expressions of emotion and the feelings they stimulate when expressed in purposeful activities of any kind, and in dance, music, song or poetic speech.

The inner imagery that controls behavior is the same inner imagery that N3 uses for bestowing meaning and importance by association. In organisms that respond only automatically, no meaning is required, and behavior is very limited. Two systems only need to be targeted: automatic internal motion (visceral motion changes inside the body, for example heart rate or respiration), and automatic external motion (locomotion/ behavioral movements of the face and body). This sort of system needs only a tiny amount of memory, and its fast.

In humans, when an image is generated in the inner model it prompts three things in parallel: internal motion, external motion, and emotion (chemical motion needed to achieve specific mental states). With well balanced rear nets, each section of this three-part system should express the same reality in different ways, just as pressing the 'on' button on your computer simultaneously triggers useful behavior from hardware and software in unison.

This threefold combination of synchronized events is "human behavior". The body cannot move without the mind. The same signaling system used to evaluate dangers and benefits in perception and weight them in memory also directs the appropriate response of all three systems.

 

Why Did Emotion Evolve?

Next, think about what emotion is for. It has evolved primarily because desire and interest, learning and adaptability, and most importantly directable motivation are all in the interests of any species’ survival in the cultural context of group interaction.

Emotion gives meaning and value to input, allowing complex associative memory, empathy and imagination to develop. Emotion enables swift silent communication on levels words cannot, inspires us to learn, enables bonding for group cooperation, rewards us for doing whatever is beneficial and warns us when danger is afoot.

Automatic motivation systems are very basic because they have evolved to enable basic animal behaviors and ensure their success in acquiring their needs. A strong drive to have sex, eat well and avoid tigers are heritable characteristics, while celibacy and playing with snakes are not.

For all of our history, every living animal on earth has more or less the same options for basic physical behaviors because biological life always has similar basic needs, the details variable according to size, weight, complexity and musculature, and moderated by the context of the world's physical laws within which it lives.

Simple organisms only need a few basic rules to achieve a small variety of effective behaviors that achieves everything. Hardwired motivation to do simple things like, 'IF food detected THEN move towards" or "IF danger detected THEN move away' enable even the simplest of creatures to succeed in life.

These are absolute core behaviors for all living organisms doing their thing in spacetime. As we have seen when looking at the Amygdala, such behavior can be absolutely automatic, and many simple creatures rely on such automation and their senses and need nothing more. Automatic response memory fits into a nice small package, unlike the memory needed for conscious autonomous response and freedom of choice.

Most simple animals have more automatic hardwired programs than humans do, precisely because we are able to adjust our own programming to suit different contexts, whereas many simpler creatures aren't. They depend on a single environment that doesn't change very much or very rapidly, and their automatic programs are adequate for thriving in their own contexts.

The downside of this is that any sudden climate, intrusion, or ecosystem change is liable to wipe them out, as we have seen in recent times in many contexts. Automatic responses also depend on actual sensory contact or needs for motivation, because biology doesn't waste energy (for example, amebas don't explore unless they need something. If you put them in a petri dish with food and no hassle, they just sit there eating and reproducing.) When systems are automatic or unconscious, its hard to adjust them to change. You don't find innovation and adaptation and they don't need self-control (autonomy).

Intelligence doesn't need to develop any further; such species have remained successful for millenia in a comfortable niche where nothing more is needed. That's why no matter how many thousands of years they are around on planet Earth, we'll never see maggots reading "what carcass" magazine.

To develop autonomous creatures that can learn and change, adapt themselves and their environment, and cooperate together, intelligence needs much more than "IF you meet an agent, THEN run Neo." But the transfer of response control from automation to include autonomy can't just happen randomly 'by itself' for no reason -biology never wastes energy, and it takes a large amount of energy to build and run complex intelligence.

If responses are automatic, nothing needs to have 'meaning' to an organisms mind as being any more important than anything else; it just experiences some times when it seems compelled to move in direction x or y. Things happen TO it, with no concept of cause and effect. There is no motivation for its having any interest in or paying attention to anything more, it can effectively run on automatic and stop evolving. That makes very effective amebas, but entire species get wiped out when conditions change, because they cannot adapt.

There cannot be versatility and adaptation until real concrete events are associated with meaning; prompting motivation by choice outside of automation. Where there is no meaning, there can be no association for conscious memory or forward planning.

 

Hardware turns into software when code is given meaning, and emotion is the physiological response that allocates meaning and value to input code via neurochemistry.

Emotions are different states of physiology, each accessing different behavioral memories to create a mind state and behavior that correlates (or should) with our body state, inner concepts and conscious ideas, turning us into powerfully adaptive organisms.

Emotion is what produces the chemicals necessary for motivation in autonomous systems, prompts memory and imagination and enables the learning cycle to begin. Without emotion we can mimic things (repeat information without understanding, such as repeating birdsong or animal calls,) or we can convey information mindlessly as in a 'Chinese room'. But we cannot model meaning (understand what information birdsong or animal calls or Chinese signs convey, or how to use that information ourselves by seeing how they use it), because emotional weighting associated with coded signals is what gives information meaning.

Without weighting, no information is more important than any other. For amebas, most inputs appear as bland 'things' against a bland context and can be ignored.

In practical evolutionary terms, to move from automation to autonomy in animals intelligence needed a 'software solution' that could somehow allocate conscious as well as associated unconscious meaning and value to input (so that thoughts and ideas could trigger motivation and behavior as effectively as automatic responses).

To be workable, such a software must be dynamic and applicable to all important life situations in real time, so that motivation could be directed by input feedback. This would allow behavior to be fine-tuned to be more and more appropriate to the context, which is what adaptation is all about.

To be great, the system should communicate both within individuals and between individuals, and synchronize its processes and signaling to coordinate body state with motivational state and emotional state.

Automatic behavioral memory had run out of hard drive in the evolution of simple creatures (most of it in us is now crammed into the cerebellum). An input-weighting system like emotion, however, demands large quantities of storage space for an associational database; without it intelligence can go no further and remains unable to comprehend anything outside any creature's current experience. To survive ever-changing circumstances, to push the edge and rise to the occasion, intelligence needed predictive association, a really large dynamic memory system, imagination, and high-resolution interactive real-time communication.

To be 'kept in mind', ie to become a bit of memory, even temporarily, a pattern of data relating to a concept must be given some sort of 'weight' rating that makes it more important to pay attention to than everything else. For long term memory-to-behavior association, the weighting on each pattern must also assist in forming permanent records of frequently needed behaviors related to concepts, and as a cheeky bonus new habits and associations can be made automatic by using already-existing 'automatic memory space' (that is now freeing up in the cerebellum because the system doesn't need so many hardwired responses, in fact most of the time 'chosen' behaviors are becoming habitual). That way each individual creature can make its own personally-experienced, most-often-required behaviors automatic (habitual) over time.

This newly-evolving system must also, most importantly, have some way of allowing large chunks of separately stored yet in-context associated data to be accessed in any order, assembled together in cache and 'held in mind' all at the same time, so that the creature is primed to rapidly recall and do everything that is appropriate during each behavior or decision, in real time first-person interaction in the complex game of life.

In short, to develop any further, intelligent minds needed a better gaming system.

And at this point in evolution, the master programmer "intelligence" discovered the secret of true gaming system happiness: "Always get as much RAM as you can possibly afford."

 

Emotional weighting and the ingenious use of N3's inner 'spatial navigation' model for mapping abstract 'concept navigation' gave intelligence the dynamic database that enabled imagination and memory to associate meaning and transformed life on earth; from a simple soup of automatic sequences and responses going on inside unconscious biological mechanisms like plants and amebae, to a complex network of conscious, intelligent, individual autonomous interactors.

No longer just observers of what happened to them, creatures were now embodied participators with their own designs on what happened to them and their own ideas about what they'd like to happen to them. All life moves, and always has, but this stuff could move AND it had an opinion.

This is why emotion evolved. Without it, life could not achieve any autonomy in environmental interaction. Evolution has co-opted automatic responses and sensorimotor navigation tools into learning new tricks whilst still keeping the most essential old ones, for example that good old flight response if we are suddenly attacked unawares, and these tricks give life an astonishing amount of flexibility and autonomy to navigate, adapt, and shape its own destiny; the gift of free will.

Organisms' decisions with this new free will (and decision-making was now constant and often vital) were guided by their equally-newly-evolving imagination/memory/emotional system, that gives meaning, type and importance to all that they perceive (and at this point in development intelligence is perceiving consciously as well as unconsciously, and using sounds as well as body language, pheromones and facial expressions, to communicate emotion).

Emotional expression can spread silently at high speed with very little effort on behalf of the 'sender' except for eye contact or a subliminal odor in the air. The advantages for any species are obvious.

 

Basic Emotions

In humans, differences in cultures and languages lead to huge variations in local behavior and it has sometimes been speculated that all emotional expressions are learned and will therefore differ across cultures. Unfortunately this conclusion is based on most studies including a mish-mash of some sentiments and some emotions, but fortunately there is a clearer path to follow, begun by the Great-grandfather of Genetics, Charles Darwin:

Darwin noticed thet the emotional behavior in animals (for example, alarm calls, status/sexual displays or defensive posturing) seemed often a lot more melodramatic or 'intense' than that of humans. By observation of sentiment today, we may conclude that this isn't necessarily true. We currently live in a society of sentimental incontinence where the sexual display in night clubs is every bit as provocative as that of a bird of paradise, and where everybody is expected to go hysterical and melodramatic at the drop of a hat, just like they do on television.

Darwin lived in a society and time where 'only women did that', where male emotional suppression beneath a bland and grave stiff-upper-lip, synthetic christian politeness was promoted and enforced by peers, and Men didn't cry. People were taught that it was possible to control their own behavior, but this ability was subverted for hiding or suppressing their own emotions (and they usually did so, possibly from fear of ending up in some asylum for having 'hysteria', or being suspected of demonic possession). It was just as stupid as our time, it was just stupid in different ways.

So (and perhaps due to this social context) Darwin missed the point of the usefulness of healthy emotion in humans, as he probably didn't see very many examples of it. He did, however, make some acute observations, one being that there seem to be six basic behaviors in all higher animals that we humans relate to emotion and that we have distinct facial expressions for.[30] From his travels around the world, he concluded that basic emotional expressions were universal in humans, even though the details of local customs, languages and cultures differ widely. Certain emotional states, such as affection, defensiveness, pleasure and pain, seemed to be universal and his interest was thay they were possibly inherited.

Darwin had no concept of emotions being different than sentiments, so he also studied sentiments like anger and fear, but found the interpretations were no longer universal (the expression most people found hardest to identify was fear). This conclusion has also been reached by more recent researchers.[31] It is surprising that emotion and sentiment have not been separated in mainstream studies, as there is now a large body of pan-cultural research supporting the universal nature of the recognition of emotional facial expressions and of the way that these expressions are produced (from MCG recordings of facial muscle activity), but no such universality of sentiment.

What's more, blind children, who could never have learned from visual modeling, produce the same spontaneous emotional facial expressions. These basic expressions, like basic emotions and basic behaviors, are hardwired in.

Regardless of how we culturally express them, we are all able to experience the same basic emotions, all obvious from birth, which are shown below with a selection of names that different cultures and different individuals use to describe them:

 

 

Parents will immediately recognize the equivalents of these in newborn healthy babies (you may not see disgust unless s/he tastes something bitter, but it's there).

As emotionality matures, a second set quickly develops, some taking longer than others:

 

 

We're not the only species that uses facial expression for emotional communication. Most mammals have their own equivalents:

 

Rat facial expressions for: "Nice!" (left); "Nasty!" (right).

 

Rats that have just enjoyed a tasty chocolate snack (left) open their eyes wider, relax the nose, and lick their lips a lot. Rats experiencing a disgusting bitter taste (right) squeeze up their eyes, wrinkle their nose, move their whiskers forward and bare their teeth, rather amusingly like we do, communicating just as efficiently to their fellows, mates and offspring clear signals on what to avoid eating. 

Human emotional expression is not confined to the face of course. Body motion, posture, tone of voice, eye and skin changes and pheromones all contribute, and much of this behavior is still automatic. (If you doubt that many of our gestures or facial expressions are automatic, watch someone on the telephone. Despite the fact that the other person cannot see them, gesturing and facial expression go right ahead as if they were talking face to face.)

What we are pointing out here is the fact that emotions are intrinsically linked with and cannot be separated from behaviors. Emotions are the inner 'behaviors' of networks of cells that correlate with our external behaviors and inner physiological behaviors. Another way of saying this is that emotions emerge from the interaction between internal and external behaviors; between the mind and its contextual reality.

 

Evidence from Brain Imaging

Brain imaging procedures offer the opportunity to explore emotion in healthy human volunteers. Areas of regional brain activity for various emotions have been ascertained from meta-analysis[32] and are reproduced below:


 

Q: 1. Which of these four emotions is associated with Amygdala activation in the highest proportion of studies?

2. Why do you think this is?

3. As one of the strongest feelings we often get, why doesn't offense activate the Amy?

 Clues: look at the two sets of emotional expressions in the pictures of faces. Which ones are hardwired? Which ones develop as we mature?


 

A: 1. Alarm is the emotion that most usually involves Amygdala activity.

2. All the emotions that strongly affect the Amygdala are from the 'basic' group that have their responses hardwired in.

3. Offense doesn't activate the Amy because it's a response that develops with maturity. When we're small, our defense is taken care of by others who get offended on our behalf. Notice how much 'offense' needs to use the frontal cortex, to make sure that high risk defensive behaviors are not employed without real need.

 

 


 

From Automation to Autonomy

 

As well as looking at distinct brain areas that are associated with basic emotions, researchers have paid attention to how areas link together both within networks and along pathways between networks. Extensive studies have yielded evidence that we have evolved two distinct processing pathways.

One; the 'high road' pathway (from the thalamus to the cortex and back to the Amygdala), carries detailed information and gives rise to conscious perception of emotions, but it is slower due to passing through the cortex. The alternative (from the thalamus straight to the Amygdala) 'low road' route is subcortical and unconscious, providing faster but less specific information resulting in 'quick and dirty' processing. Because this direct pathway bypasses the cortex, it is unable to use cortical processing, and can respond only to basic biologically benefit- or threat-relevant signals or to relatively crude features of well-practiced, experience-conditioned stimuli.[32]

Although the cortical route is necessary for learning new emotional associations, once learned, those associations will still be made even if the cortical areas are later damaged, if they have been used sufficiently to become automatic (because they are now stored in cerebellar memory and so can use the 'low road' route).

In humans the high road route is capable of overriding the response initiated by the direct pathway, and can modify or inhibit other responses according to complex and subtle differences in circumstances through learning, but only if the high road is processing data as intended. Excess cortisol shuts down the high road, and 'low road' processing becomes the predominant mode of functioning in both sentiment and certain anxiety disorders -but we'll be talking about that later on.

Different pathways from the Amygdala are responsible for different types or aspects of automatic responses, such as recognition/physical feelings/physiological responses/facial expressions. Other pathways return to cortical areas, such as the visual cortex, modulating by feedback the processing of signals from sensory inputs.

Below is a simplified diagram of the two input routes.

 


 

From automation to autonomy: Humans have both these systems. In simple creatures with automatically motivated response behavior, only the 'low road' fast route is necessary. Autonomy requires the 'high road' slow route and much more processing to fine-tune motivation for the specific behavior intended, but the fast route can still get us up a tree at the first sign of danger before we have time to consciously realize why.

We use feedback from emotional responses to help with decision-making [33] and these form part of the experience we call 'intuition', which we'll discuss later.

 

All creatures live in the same world, all animals have sensory organs and senses, and there are optimal performance parameters for every one of the senses in every creature that help keep it in the green zone. The traditional (first to be scientifically explained) concrete human senses are sight (ophthalmoception), hearing (audioception), taste (gustaoception), smell/ pheromone detection (olfacoception/olfacception), and touch (tactioception), other concrete senses are temperature (thermoception), pressure, vibration/rhythm, kinesthetic sense (proprioception), pain (nociception), balance (equilibrioception) and acceleration/deceleration (kinesthesioception). We also have abstract senses such as direction (magnetoception), distance, time, perspective, aesthetics and humor.

All creatures also exhibit the same core behaviors, "moving towards/ moving away from" in three different ways: stretching/ relaxing, gathering together/ spreading apart, unifying/ separating. All creatures also have the unconscious habits of maintaining balance by alternating them, first learned as control over their own autonomic functions and homeostasis.

These simple core behaviors are combined in different ways and applied in both concrete material and abstract cognitive ways, to achieve all necessary animal behaviors, as shown in the diagrams below:

 

 

From three simple behaviors applied in different combinations to both concrete & abstract concepts, all the basic animal behaviors can be seen to emerge in a beautiful congruous symmetry.

Cytoarchitectonics ...is a fantastic word that sounds very complex. It's a good word to say to boring people at parties when they ask you what you do, as it either baffles them and they go away, or you've met someone interesting. It means the study of the way cells are connected to other cells, or the structures that cells form; in short, the cellular architecture of the brain.

In terms of this, it's worth stopping here to stand and stare, at how beautifully the evolving brain has structured itself. The later-evolved frontal networks have incorporated (1) a reverse-image copy of the rear nets' layout: diagonal symmetry; (2) a left/right symmetry of processing and (3) a front/rear symmetry of processing. Consult the diagram above while considering the following:

Diagonal symmetry (reverse-image copy of rear net processing): Stretching behaviors are on the blue diagonal, relaxing behaviors are on the green diagonal. In N1 (concrete, material), 'relaxation + gathering together' means nurturing & developing bodies & brains. In N4 (abstract, temporal), 'relaxation + gathering together' means nurturing & developing minds, constructs & ideas. N1 concerns itself with the duration and integrity of matter (physical longevity), and N4 abstracts the concept to concern the mind with the duration and integrity of buildings, relationships, cultures and information.

In N2 (concrete, spatial), 'stretching + spreading apart' means exploring new places, hunting, seeking and spreading the news. In N5 (abstract, dynamic), stretching + spreading apart means exploring new ideas, seeking the facts and spreading the news.

 

Up/Down Symmetry: Concrete Behaviors Are at the Bottom, abstract towards the top.

Processes merging l/r or front/back data are on the up/down axis. In N3 (concrete, discriminatory), 'unification/separation' means learn about context and its behavior, to adapt your self to fit in better with contextual needs. In N6 (abstract, interactive), unification/separation means learn about yourself and your abilities, to adapt (creatively change) your context to fit in better with personal needs.

N1 processes individual material objects, N5 processes individual abstract facts. In N1, self care means care of the body. In N5 it means care of the mind. In N2, simple tool use is an extension of the body. In N4 complex machine use is an extension of the mind.

Left/right symmetry: Processes involving individual things (N1, N5) are on the left of the diagram, and those involving group behavior (N2, N4) are on the right. N5 does analysis (taking things apart), N4 does synthesis (putting things together). N1 processes individual material objects, N2 processes the motion of groups of objects in space.

Obviously, from these examples you can see how complex processing is, but we don't need to remember all these details once we know the basic concepts behind all behavior and make the required associations.

Below is a diagram showing a selection of behaviors achieved by core-behavior combinations:

 

 

Some students have asked how to distinguish between behaviors, skills, and abilities. For example, exploration is a behavior, but it needs the abilities of locomotion and sensory awareness. Navigation could be a skill, an ability AND a behavior. Riding a bike, empathizing, or doing mental arithmetic are also both abilities and types of behavior.

Confusion over this sort of thing can slow down NH progress, so we'd like to make a simple rule: For behavior, think Physics. ALL motion (internal and external, microscopic and macroscopic, accidental and deliberate,) is behavior. All behavior requires abilities. Ability means mastery of a particular behavior or set of behaviors (procedure) - we are ABLE to do x or y behavior.

For example we may have the intent to explore right from birth, but we don't have the ability to explore until we've mastered locomotion and sensorimotor behaviors, as these are what enable our exploration abilities.

Abilities are not skills. One can have abilities that one does not want, for example we are ABLE to fall out of trees, but this is not a skill. A skill is an ability we have practiced, directed and refined through feedback.

We can even have skills without abilities. An athlete with a strained leg has not lost her skills, but has lost her abilities; ie, she is not ABLE to use them to perform behaviors.

Automatic responses are still behaviors but they don't require skill; they just happen TO us (often before we even know why we're doing them.) Our ability to perform them is innate; not learned.

When we refer to 'animal behaviors', we mean a range of basic responses that occur in all mammals as one of twelve (two for each network) types of response to circumstances; for example N3 associates with "befriend or defend", and N4 with create and cooperate. Each network has one response for interacting with benefits and another for interacting with dangers.

Not all mammals need the same details in their behavioral responses (we for example don't hibernate, and most of us don't fly south for the winter, but you can see how all of the example behaviors in each group are related to the core behaviors.)

If you now look at the basic emotions in relation to the behaviors they are associated with, you can see how biology is working with intelligence to produce the right ‘moods’ for every interaction (for example, it seems obvious that a creature would need desire to feel lusty and excited (N2) when courting a mate (N2), or s/he would get bored and lose interest. And we can see that desire will also serve to motivate exploration.

In humans, the same basic behaviors are also applied in more abstract ways (for example we can also feel desire to explore an academic subject or a procedure, in order to learn and remember it well.

In automatic motivation, only the first three networks are needed and basic body states are used as indicators modulating motivation for main animal behaviors, as follows:

N1 pleasure/pain, felt as comfort/discomfort indicates sensory load/overload/deprivation.

N2 arousal/startle reflex, felt as desire/alarm indicates hunger& thirst & sexual needs/danger.

N3 empathy/antipathy, felt as cordiality/discord indicates the need for growth (learning, forming allies, mating)/ & protection (defense).

 

The 'low road' fast route is a dedicated line for this sort of response. If you refer to the diagram above, you can see how the behaviors each network processes serve the animal's immediate needs associated with the sensory input that motivates them. Its not too hard to see how these input experiences associate with the meanings 'nasty' or 'nice', 'like or dislike' in a creature's personal experience (if in doubt, consider which you'd prefer; comfort or discomfort? Desire or alarm?).

In cognitive-directed (autonomous) motivation, all six networks are used, and basic body states are interpreted according to their associations with neurochemically-weighted abstract concepts. Consequently, any basic behavior can be employed in any situation on the level of any network.

In autonomous systems association links networks using a single code, but it is interpreted by different modules in different ways.

If the code signals for pleasure/pain are directed at N1, they will be experienced in N1's context (the concrete material level) as physical comfort/discomfort and prompt N1 behaviors and emotions of happiness or disgust, all the motivation an animal needs for relaxation or self care behaviors.

However, if the same signals are directed at N4, they will be experienced as mental pleasure or pain, and interpreted in terms of N4's context as cultural integration/exclusion. Such a situation would need N4's cooperation and synthesis behaviors, such as sharing skills, nest building and nurturing young, which call for the emotions of levity and gravity (good humor & respect), to interact effectively.

For another example, if the code signals for arousal/startle are directed at N2, they will be associated with N2's context (the concrete spatial level), with emotions of desire/alarm, and will prompt N2 behaviors. However, if they are directed at N5, the same signals will be associated with emotional/mental desire/alarm, and experienced as certainty/uncertainty about what is known and not known. This would indicate the need for N5's resource-management and analysis behaviors, such as assessing and indicating our own status, territory and allies, resource allocation among allies, and assessment of our own and others' abilities, which require exactly those emotions of doubt and certainty.

 

 

Physiology, Behavior and Emotion

 

When emotional and physical states are experienced as nasty or nice, and associated with 'good' and 'bad' memory imagery, free will is not far away. The moment that a creature has associated imagery for the behaviors to change things, we see the beginnings of emotion modulating behavior, and once there is enough imagination and memory to recognize and categorize what sort of nasty and what sort of nice goes with what sort of behaviors, intelligence can start predicting likely outcomes and making conscious behavioral decisions. We have autonomy of motivation.

We can clearly see which physical responses are associated with which emotional responses. Pleasure is associated with the mental concept of comfortable, pain with uncomfortable. Nausea and sickness are nasty, painful, and associated with the mental concept of disgust. Items whose look, smell or taste trigger the memory of these responses or their occurrence are added to the memory database of 'disgusting'. Any system with these basic associations in memory has the potential to develop an autonomous emotionally-weighted, behavior-motivating, semi-conscious value system.

With emotional weighting, anything beneficial not only is good but FEELS good. Excitement comes when we push the boundaries of the known, pleasure comes when we assimilate new things into the 'known', pain & distress come when sensory overload or deprivation happen, and emotionally-weighted memory of these experiences establishes 'like/dislike' as conscious as well as emotional and sensorimotor concepts, providing autonomous motivation for behavior.

Pain is imagined as nasty, pleasure is imagined as nice, but pain also IS nasty and pleasure IS nice because cells that fire together wire together, and these systems (sensorimotor, behavioral and emotional) have been interwired from the moment code was first associated with meaning and a new kind of dynamic associative imagination and memory were born.

Categorizing the details of our individual likes and dislikes comes (or should come) about by our associating items, contexts and behaviors that are currently inside, or outside, the green zone for us personally, by experience and modeling. Biology is all about achieving the necessities and resources for thriving without wasting any energy or coming to any harm, which comes down to 'keeping us in the green zone'. We're meant to experience physical and mental 'good' feelings whenever we're in the green zone because that's where we make optimal use of our energy as the personal power to interact. We are pursuing entelechy. This is what Rogers means by 'the good life'. [68]

Emotions link abstract mental experiences and complementary concrete physical experiences with mutually- associated meanings, synchronizing motivation (intent prompting interaction) with behaviors appropriate to the context, and communicating meaning and purpose in a chemical language that is understood by body, brain and fellow creature alike.

With an automatic response system, creatures are limited to a single context (environment). With a semi-automatic motivation system, adaptation is possible. We are able to do things when we need to do them EITHER because we are automatically impelled to OR because we've motivated ourselves to. With emotion, integrated memory and imagination, intelligence has set itself free from contextual and bio-automation limitations, and can turn around and creatively change both itself and its world.

Metaphorically speaking, at this point in evolution, an ape threw a bone into the air and it turned into a spaceship...and Intelligence sat down firmly in the Captain's chair.

 

 

Neurochemistry & Emotion

 

The Link Between Emotions, Behaviors and Neurotransmitters

There are several aspects to an emotion. There is the “body response” (called the Autonomic response), the physiology of neurotransmission, the mental ‘mood’ or state of mind, as well as the thoughts, beliefs, memories and expectations associated with these.

Autonomic responses are the changes we experience in a direct physical ‘bodily’ way. We have a limited number of these, the increasing or decreasing of our heartbeat rate is one such response. When we are excited or alarmed, our heartbeat will speed up (note this can happen in either excitement OR alarm). Temperature changes, respiration and digestive changes, pupil dilation or contraction, muscular tension or relaxation, and so on are all autonomic responses. All animals have these, and it is easy to see their survival value.

The autonomic nervous system (ANS, aka 'visceral nervous system') is the part of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) that acts as a control system functioning largely unconsciously, and controls our visceral functions.[34] The ANS affects heart rate, digestion, respiratory state, salivation, perspiration, pupil dilation, blood pressure, urination and sexual arousal. Whereas most of its actions are ordinarily involuntary in animals, they can be brought under conscious control in humans; some more easily than others.

The ANS was classically divided into two subsystems: the Parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) and the Sympathetic nervous system (SNS),[34] but more recent research has discovered a third subsystem of neurons that use nitric oxide as a neurotransmitter which are integral in autonomic function, particularly in the gut and the lungs.[35]

The interactions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems are coordinated by the Hypothalamus, and the interactions between the Hypothalamus, the Pituitary gland and the Adrenal glands (on top of the kidneys) constitute the "HPA axis", a neural pathway that controls responses to stress and regulates many body processes, including digestion, the immune system, mood and emotions, sexuality, and energy storage and expenditure.

 

 

A wide variety of species, from the most ancient organisms to humans, share components of the HPA axis. It is the common mechanism for interactions among glands, hormones, neurotransmitters and parts of the brain; a multi-step biochemical pathway where information is transmitted from one area of the body to the next via chemical messengers. These can be hormones, neurotransmitters, or both. The HPA axis is one of the main 'information highways' synchronizing our systems, and the main route for much of the real time integration between emotions, behaviors and neurotransmitters.

 

Chemical Cascades and Unconscious Priming

Most chemical interactions in the HPA are very complicated and we do not cover them in detail at intermediate level, as we only need to know the basics about how neurochemistry works. But the HPA gives us an example of something very common in neurochemistry -the advent of chemical cascades.

Do you remember the nursery rhyme: "The House that Jack Built", or A.A. Milne's classic poem, "The King's Breakfast"?[6] They describe something common in NH study: a cascade of events.

An example of a chemical cascade: chemical A + chemical B get together and have a little molecular exchange party, their interactions causing chemicals C, D and E to be manufactured. C + D may then cause the release of chemical F, while D + E may merge to make mainly G and by-product H, and so on in various combinations, the results of interactions causing further interactions until keeping track of it quickly turns into something very complicated.

Here's an example from the HPA's repertoire: One of the Hypothalamic nuclei secretes six neurohormones into the capilliary network supplying the Anterior Pituitary. Four of these are 'releasing hormones' that stimulate the release of other hormones from the Anterior Pituitary itself, one is a release-inhibiting factor, and the sixth is the neurotransmitter Dopamine (if a chemical reaches its destination via the bloodstream, it's a hormone. If it's transmitted by neurons, it's a neurotransmitter, so substances can be both). All these chemicals stimulate the release of other chemicals.

Often in biochemistry cascade tranformations result in chemicals A and B being made once more and the whole cycle goes around again, like rechargeable batteries. If this tendency continues in the long term, it is called 'dynamic equilibrium', and this is how a lot of biological life works. It is normally by achieving chemical dynamic equilibrium that our body systems stay in the green zone.

All animal behavior requires specific transmitter and hormone cascades to constantly moderate mood in sync with physical processes and motion, right from the level of gene transcription up.

 

Unconscious Priming

In humans, different pattern-matches between input percepts and N3's concepts cause different emotional weighting, and hence different chemical cascades, that can get body & mind prepped and ready ahead of time for any eventuality, as well as giving the relevant associated meaning to the memory of the event.

Despite our stunning systems upgrade on the evolutionary path, everything we do still associates at core with one or more of the basic animal behaviors. N3 knows which one is likely to be dominant in any situation because it recognizes the patterns for the contexts which different types of events arise in (we'll explain how later), and knows which networks are currently being used. The behavioral patterns are narrowed down to just a couple of choices, one for each network's 'nice'- related pattern and one for its 'nasty'-related pattern.

This makes it a simple matter for N3 to 'prime' the network/s predicted as most likely to be needed for appropriate behavioral responses ahead of time, and to anticipate and pull up memories that may be called upon for the procedures involved, into a RAM cache.

For example, if we have just accidentally stepped in something nasty, the Amy has automatically attached Serotonin- and Cortisol-triggering patterns to the experience (because 'those patterns' go with 'this one'), associated the event with the core concept 'matter', and sent its data to the matter-related coordinates on the inner model. These will in this case indicate the area representing N1 because network 1 processes all material substance initial data and is on a special lookout for dangerous substances. The Amy's message of disgust will motivate N1 to pay immediate attention to this event.

When its attentively-gathered input goes around the 'high road' back to N3 and the substance is consciously identified on the way as animal feces (all this happens extraordinarily fast), N2 is already primed for (and possibly already carrying out) appropriate motor behavior for dealing with dangerous substances; (sharpening of the senses, initial movement away from the danger, a 'disgusted' facial expression, and vocalization designed to warn others of the nature of the hazard (such as swearing or 'yuck!' noises)), while N1 is simultaneously primed for its own behaviors; (probably fastidious cleaning of the foot, and if it's in the home or local territory, removal/ burial of the substance.)

All the memories necessary for carrying these behaviors out are ready and waiting, because the behaviors were predicted and expected. We'll be looking more closely into how N3 predicts what's needed, later in this tutorial.

 

 

DO IT NOW

 

See which network automatically takes on a puzzle

You will need: 8 pens or pencils or short sticks or anything light and firm, all of equal length around 20cm, and a small amount of blutack or plasticine or similar substance.

Arrange the sticks to form the following pattern:

 


 

Using only the same equipment, make a pattern of four equilateral triangles all the same size.

Answer at end of tutorial.

 

Giving Us the Basics: Stretch and Relax

Acetylcholine and Norepinephrine (ANS)

The two main Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) transmitters in humans are Acetylcholine and Norepinephrine, and in the ANS basically Norepinephrine is the accelerator and Acetylcholine puts on the brakes. They provide a complementary balance of physical opposites: stress and relaxation maintaining our homeostasis, keeping everything working in synchrony at just the right rate for the current conditions.

Norepinephrine and Acetylcholine act on the body to set up a general state of ‘excited or relaxed’, the “whole body” stress-relaxation responses that underlies all emotion.

Please note that this is what they do in relation to the physical body; they have other functions in brain neurotransmission. Biology won't waste energy producing more chemicals than it needs, and many of them are multifunctional, doing different tasks as hormones or neurotransmitters.

 

Glutamate and GABA

In the brain, the main stress-relax system is run by Glutamate (makes it easier for neurons to fire) and GABA (makes it harder for neurons to fire).

We can already see how these systems are able to coordinate a brain and body for automatic motivation. Alone, however, these transmitters are not sufficient to determine what emotions are experienced. Indeed, as we have learned, the body can use them for automatic control without ANY emotion being involved.

However, these responses do also correlate with the experience of emotion, and at the bottom of all emotion there is a similar polarity of stress-relaxation in our moods and related behaviors or benefit-seeking and hazard-avoiding (spreading apart & gathering together, unification and separation).

 

Filling in the details: sex or drugs or rock & roll?

We experience 'stretch/relax' chemistry for many different reasons; for example we need it to mate, to run away from things that want to eat us, to defend ourselves, to learn, and to chase things we would like to eat. After successfully stretching to achieve any of these, our bodies and minds will need to relax.

When our brain releases norepinephrine and ‘hits the gas’, the bodily changes will serve us equally as well for sexual excitement as they will for alarm, so our own interpretation of events -our perception, including memory and prediction- as well as the circumstances themselves, our current neurochemistry and the behavior of others, modulates the next burst of transmitter release. Ultimately these variables determines both what we will experience (emotion or sentiment) and also which type of emotion or sentiment.

The unconscious mind assesses what it thinks is going on and ‘fills in the details’, prompting the release of the relevant neurochemicals to motivate appropriate behavior and establish a particular emotion as relevant to a particular situation and the particular type of behavior likely to be required in it.

These result in the many different ‘moods’ or ‘states of mind’ we associate with different emotions, and people sometimes use recreational or medicinal drugs to induce similar states.

“Uppers” and “downers” like amphetamines, sugar, caffeine, benzodiazepines or barbiturates signal the brain to hit the gas or put the brakes on, and chemicals like MDMA, cannabis, prozac, SSRIs, LSD and alcohol also cause the increase of some transmitters that induce particular moods or states of mind, so can be used for input control in various circumstances.

In short, multiple variables affecting our own perception and interpretation of events modulates the details of what we feel, what we do, and what neurotransmitters we release.

 

Dopamine and Serotonin

For example if your heart is racing and your neck hairs are standing on end because the hottest person you have ever seen has just taken off their clothes and said, 'let’s have sex', as long as association is congruous you’ll release (amongst others) the transmitters norepinephrine, dopamine and oxytocin, and interpret your body’s arousal signals as being a healthy and pleasant physical response, and the accompanying emotion as lust; sexual desire.

If you are chasing your dinner, dopamine and norepinephrine are still released, but you interpret the excitement as eagerness for the hunt and anticipation of dinner for your family.

Dopamine just contributes the command 'seek' to behavior; it doesn't mind what we're seeking (and this is how it can be coopted by the brain so successfully into seeking abstract goals such as solving a maths problem).

When the physical signals on the inside correspond with a recognizable beneficial opportunity on the outside, biology’s intent meets a suitable content, all is congruous, and a healthy mind releases the relevant combination of transmitters needed for the appropriate behavior and mood to do the beneficial thing; in the cases above, mating or hunting. Completion of either of these behaviors results in the release of serotonin, and the feelings of relaxation and satisfaction; This is the stress/ relaxation response in healthy individuals.

The systems using dopamine and serotonin are often confused, as until very recently, dopamine was thought to be the brain's 'reward' chemical and many researchers have not caught up with the fact that dopamine is much more aptly described as the 'desire' chemical.

Of course, desire can be rewarding and enjoyable in itself, but only when it leads to satisfaction, and that needs successful completion of the stress-relax cycle in the release of serotonin and opioids, providing the 'reward' half of the pleasure circuit and makes us feel happy, contented, satisfied and comfortable during the relaxation response.

This prevents us releasing more dopamine for a short time unless a new stimulus is presented that is worthwhile enough to follow up. For example if you've just caught half a dozen rabbits and are secure in the knowledge that your family will eat well today, you may well lie around in the sunshine feeling pleased with yourself, before heading back with the goodies. You don't feel any desire to carry on hunting, but suddenly an antelope appears -a great opportunity- and a fresh surge of dopamine et al gets you back on your feet and aiming your spear within seconds.

If a predator is spotted, excitement quickly turns to alarm, and you yell to your friends, "Crocodile!" (or whatever). Dopamine can serve for both desire and alarm, since we can desire to get away from something just as much as we can desire to chase something, as we all know from experience. Dopamine simply produces desire; the details of what you desire to do (run towards, run away from, make love to, learn about) depends on your perception and interpretation of your context, the way your body feels, and what is happening around you.

The same transmitters can be used in lots of different contexts, because basic behaviors underlie all complex behaviors. Desire is basic in nature and complex in application. Neurochemistry just coordinates our responses, it is unconscious weighting by emotion that allocates them meaning. Dopamine's associated emotions are desire and alarm; it's associated behaviors are seeking and warning of danger ('seek and squeak'). Serotonin's associated emotions are happiness and disgust; it's associated behaviors are relaxation and self care ('serene and clean').

 

Oxytocin and Cortisol

If a large human-eating creature chases YOU, you'll release norepinephrine, dopamine + cortisol, interpret the body’s signals as defensive, and if you’re wired for emotion proper your good old fight/flight response will kick in automatically and save your ass. (If we’re wired for sentiment, and have overwritten that response, we may panic or faint).

When the physical signals on the inside correlate with a recognizable threat to survival on the outside, a healthy mind interprets the chemical responses in the context necessary to enable you to do the most beneficial thing; in this case shooting the monster with your missile launcher (if you’re Arnie), or getting up a tree fast/ running like a bat out of hell (if you’re not.)

Oxytocin and cortisol are the “benefit/danger” determinants in situations. Oxytocin = benefit, Cortisol = danger. The associated emotions are amity and offense, and the associated behaviors are unity and separation (befriend or defend).


Acetylcholine and Norepinephrine (CNS)

Outside the ANS, both these transmitters play a role in memory as we have seen, but they also modulate emotion and many other processes including learning and decision-making.

Norepinephrine is a natural anti-inflammatory in the cortex and N3. Functionally it shifts attention to respond to environmental stimuli that have behaviorally-relevant, motivational, or attention grabbing properties. [69] In practical terms this enables us to assess a variation of options or possibilities within an overall context by looking at differences between known and current input; good for assessing probabilities of success versus energy-expenditure and risk versus hazard in a hurry. NE spikes when unexpected uncertainty arises in predictive circumstances. [70]

NE increases spontaneity and willingness to take measured risks for greater gain. NE is important for the exploratory behavior essential for learning relations between sensory input, decision processing, motor output, and behavioral feedback. [71] The associated behaviors are assessment, analysis and display, and the associated emotions are certainty and uncertainty (confidence and doubt.)

In the CNS, Acetylcholine functions as a neuromodulator in plasticity, arousal and reward. ACh also has an important role in the enhancement of sensory perceptions when we wake up [72] and in sustaining attention and increasing mental focus in the presence of distractors by looking at similarities between known and current input. [73]

Increases of ACh during visual, auditory and somatosensory stimulus presentations have been found to increase the firing rate of neurons in the corresponding primary sensory cortices, increasing responsiveness to sensory stimuli and the duration of attention during long-term behavioral strategies (such as tracking prey or completing a time-dependant task such as nest-building, learning, solving problems, games and play, cooperation, complex tool use procedures and categorization). [74] The associated behaviors are creative synthesis and cooperation, and the associated emotions are levity and gravity.

 

Endorphins and Substance P

Endorphins are natural opiates and in the body they reduce sensitivity to physical pain. In abstract processing they reduce sensitivity to emotional pain, as they make us feel comfortable, cared about and loved, which makes them a great anxiolytic (they reduce cortisol). They're also responsible for a lot of 'spiritual' feelings or profoundly blissful feelings of absolute joy. They enable bonding behavior between individuals and large groups of people and encourage group cooperation and unity like nothing else can.

Substance P is necessary in the body for our immunity as it causes an inflammatory response to infection and makes us sensitive to pain if injured. Substance P and its receptor (NK1) are widely distributed in the brain and are specifically found in brain regions that regulate emotion. [75] It's necessary to enable us to grieve healthily, recover from, and adapt to loss or separation such as the loss of a loved one, and for infant-adult bonding, when separation brings the pain of distress because it's dangerous. The associated behaviors are coordination and communication, and the associated emotions are joy and sorrow.


Interactions Between Transmitters

Transmitters interact with each other in different ways. This is complex, but we can consider the basics at this stage:

 


 

Transmitters used by horizontally 'opposite' networks in this model (eg, N1/N2 or N4/N5) act to cancel each other out (so Serotonin (5HT) reduces Dopamine (DA); and Norepinephrine (NE) reduces Acetylcholine (ACh)). They behave as an axis (raise serotonin, you automatically lower dopamine, and vice versa).

This symmetry of relationships in neurotransmission reflects the symmetry of processing. Networks' complementary processes maintain a dynamic equilibrium of brain biochemistry; all working together to complete 'stage-by-stage' procedures like the learning cycle.

Obviously this presents great opportunities for NH -if you have too much of one transmitter in an overactive network, instead of trying to reduce it by medication you can just enhance its 'opposites' and let the brain do the work for you.

This is a very useful hack for anyone who uses dopamine enhancers and gets panicky or paranoid when they overdo it. In the normal course of events transmitters adjust themselves, but if artificially increased over a long period (for example with drugs or because of anxiety) problems can result. Chronic heavy cannabis or cocaine use can result in serious lowering of serotonin because both drugs usually increase dopamine production). The resulting chemical imbalance causes loss of certainty and consequently paranoia and/or difficulty making decisions.

The problem can be addressed by decreasing the dopamine intake, OR by increasing serotonin. Get some serotonin into your system and those unjustified doubts go back into perspective.

Diagonally opposing networks (eg N1/N4 or N5/N2) tend to enhance each other and are often found to be using the same precursor (eg Tyrosine is a precursor to both dopamine and norepinephrine.)

In networks that use two main transmitters (eg, N3), they counteract each other within the network (so oxytocin is a very good thing for reducing cortisol and vice versa), but in addition to this some transmitters of N3 & N6 can counteract each other as vertically opposite networks do (so Endorphins also reduce Cortisol) AND some can enhance each other (so Substance P triggers the release of more cortisol).

 

Neurotransmitters and Behavior

Neurotransmission is about as close to software as wetware can get. If you think of the main transmitters as coded instructions for motivating behaviors, you won't go far wrong.

Here are the 12 main transmitters with their basic command lines:

 

ACh = (body) slow down, decrease activity

NE = (body) speed up, increase activity

GABA = (brain) slow down, decrease activity

Glu = (brain) speed up, increase activity

 

5HT = relax, gather together, assimilate

DA = stretch, spread apart, seek

OT = modulate unification & interaction with beneficial agents

Cortisol = modulate separation & protection from harmful agents

 

ACh = (brain) relax, gather together, cooperate, construct, synthesize

NE = (brain) stretch, spread apart, diverge, deconstruct, analyse

Endorphins = modulate unification & bonding with beneficial agents

Substance P = modulate separation & escape from harmful agents

 

 

DO IT NOW

 

Transmitter/behavior associations

Use what you know already together with the information above and your imagination to do the following exercises:

1. Imagine you are programming a virtual reality eagle. You want it to behave as realistically as possible. Given the above command lines for neurotransmitters, select those which would be appropriate to motivate the creature for the following behaviors:

(a) Self-grooming behavior

(b) Nest-making behavior (clue: eagles build in pairs)

 

2. Explain why the following behaviors in the eagles might need the transmitters listed beside them:

(c) defending young from a predator : NE (body) + Glu + DA + Cortisol

(d) chasing prey : NE (body) + Glu + DA + ACh

(e) showing young how to fly : NE (body) + Glu + DA + ACh (CNS) + Oxytocin

 

This should show you how no task uses a single transmitter but must rather contribute to maintaining a balance of the right chemicals at exactly the right time. Any or all of these transmitters may cause further cascades. The end products of cascades are often responsible for gene transcription (turning genes on or off, up or down), producing the specific proteins needed for each new behavior.

Actual cascades of in-vivo neurotransmission are of course a lot more complicated than this, we are using these as examples only to demonstrate the basic process; not the details. There is no need to learn more than this in order to practise successful and effective NH, but if you want to go further into neurotransmission, dive into the site library.

 

Emotional Communication: There's Something in the Air

Emotion is a major form of communication, and can be expressed synchronously by every network in its own way (N1 facial expression & appearance; N2 behavior (body language & sounds); N3 odors & pheromones; N4 metaphoric language & swearing; N5 formal language; and N6 the overall procedure we call interaction.)

Facial appearance and expression, and the basics of behavior have been explored above. Metaphor and language will be explored in Tutorials 10 and 11. Here we'll consider the olfactory input of odor and pheromones.

Chemical signaling is pretty ideal for communication, as chemicals can be airborne, internally active, adhered to surfaces, and transferred by multiple means including neurotransmission, blood circulation, remote and physical contact.

While humans are highly dependent upon visual cues, because airborne odors intermingle and fluctuate at fast timescales [36] when in close proximity smells and pheromones play a big role in human behaviors.

 

Odor

Conscious olfaction has a powerful command over many behaviors, including memory. Despite such a diverse array of fragrances in the world, the shape of an individual odor molecule is unique to the emitting substance. When inhaled, the odor molecule is absorbed in the nasal passage and binds to chemoreceptors in the olfactory epithelium, which are specific to certain odor molecules. This binding initiates a change in the permeability of the sensory neuron, which transmits data to the olfactory bulb. From there the transmitted signal is sent to N3 (Amy & Hippo) for further processing. Recognition of the odor occurs when the signal is interpreted through comparison to past experiences with the odor and association of the smell with the emitting substance.

N3, which receives information from the chemoreceptors about a particular odor, not only mediates mood and emotion but also serves as a memory assembly area. The inner model, where memories, emotions and odors meet, shows us why smell is often an intense trigger for distinct memories and potent emotions. When perceiving a particular aroma that is associated with a past memory, the recognition of the odor in the olfactory process will simultaneously evoke the associated memory. [60]

In this region, odors initiate the release of neurotransmitters, which can affect our brain and mental state in a variety of ways.

In input control, flower smells are mood-manipulators. Their scents can cause the release of serotonin and oxytocin in our brains. These mood responses have also been reported physiologically. For example, skin conductance, heart-rate and eye-blink rates in response to various liked or disliked scents coincide with the mood the person is experiencing.[65] In the real world, flowers don't grow unless the environment is healthy, so flower scents are reassuring and comforting to the unconscious brain (5HT). A fertile environment also means its a good place to make allies and stay around (OT).

Input for odor begins well before birth and infants tend to like the smells that their mothers experienced most often when they were in the womb (if mom does a lot of fishing, for example, junior will like the smell of fish.) The survival benefits of pre-birth wiring for 'beneficial' smells are very apparent, but they depend entirely on the mothers' ability to respond appropriately by not hanging around dangerous smells and avoiding wrong input. It's not beneficial for survival if someone is born loving the smell of bleach, corn oil, petrol, coca cola or pet poop, for example. However, even if the worst happens, the system is reprogrammable; all we have to do to change it is provide good input, enough times.

This is also true of taste, because flavor compounds from the maternal diet get incorporated into amniotic fluid and are ingested by the developing fetus as initial taste experiences. Moms have a lot of responsibility for our tastes being healthy, but since we are able to rewire ourselves our only concern with this is if we decide to have children ourselves, or want to practise input control and develop our own brain, in both cases we should find out what good input means first.

What matters more than our noses are the central olfactory brain regions that process the input as the basis for smell perception. Rather than being restricted to a tiny part of the brain, human olfactory processing of complex smells has access to N3 and consequently the memories of the entire brain are at its disposal. Different smells are represented by different patterns of olfactory glomerular activity. These patterns function as virtual “odor images”.[63]

It has been hypothesized that these odor images provide the basis for discrimination between odors, analogous to the way that retinal images are the basis for discrimination of visual pattern stimuli. The complex patterns constituting odor images may be considered as analogous to the complex patterns constituting visual images of faces. This makes sense, as N3 uses an image-based format for all processing.

Downstream in the cascade triggered by odors influencing our moods, is the way those moods influence how we think (cognition) and how we interact (behavior). In terms of cognition, mood has been shown to influence creativity with the typical finding that people in a positive mood exhibit higher levels of creativity than individuals in a bad mood. Odors can also produce the same effects. When people are exposed to an odor they liked, creative problem solving is better than it is when they are exposed to an unpleasant odor condition.

A growing body of literature shows that positive mood is linked to an increase in productivity, performance and the tendency to help others. Notably, procultural behavior and personal/group productivity are also enhanced in the presence of pleasant ambient odors.

Pleasant ambient odors have also been found to enhance vigilance during a tedious task and improve performance on anagram and word completion tests. Conversely, the presence of a malodor reduced participants' subjective judgments and lowered their tolerance for frustration. Participants in these studies also reported concordant mood changes. Thus, the observed behavioral responses correlate with the effect that the ambient odors had on people's mood.[65]

Even if sensory input is insufficient to trigger a conscious olfactory experience, subliminal processing still unconsciously prevails and biases perception; indeed studies offer direct evidence that human social behavior is under more influence from miniscule amounts of odor at concentrations too low to be consciously perceived than from odors we are consciously aware of. Unconscious (subliminal) input elicits psychological and physiological changes that suggest that humans get much more information from barely perceptible input cues than previously realized, and that such input influences our perception and decisions.

 

Pheromones

The scent of sweat is often camouflaged with perfume or deodorant, but pheromones are left unaffected. They don't even activate scent receptors in the nose; they have receptors of their own. It is as though your nose contained an extra receiver for picking up different kinds of signals (like a satellite dish that can receive radio as well as television). The unconscious mind knows, even though the conscious mind often doesn't.

Pheromone reception is like an 'unconscious ' sense of smell. Pheromones are chemical signals that elicit innate behaviors; capable of acting outside the body of the secreting individual to impact the behavior of the self and other receiving individual/s. [37] Pheromones are also used to determine the local population density of similar organisms and control behaviors that take more time to execute (quorum sensing).

There are many different pheromones that affect behavior or physiology, and they may have no consciously-detectable odor. In mammals, these chemical signals are detected by the vomeronasal organ (VNO), [112] a chemosensory organ located at the base of the nasal septum,[38] but they can also be absorbed via the skin and pheromone receptor genes have been found in olfactory mucosa.[39]

Pheromones appear to have evolved in all animal phyla. They enhance empathy, signal sex, health and status, and modulate some archetypal instinctive behaviors among members of the same species.

While the VNO is clearly present in all human fetuses it often appears to be atrophied or shrunk almost to nonexistence in 'normal' adults and the gene for its behavior dormant, suggesting a case of "use it in the right way or lose it". Human youngsters are often shielded from natural pheromone input by the many airborne and skin-absorbed pollutants we use, (for example, air 'fresheners', so-called deodorants, hairsprays, and washing products) that not only prevent the formation of, but also destroy, vomernasal as well as odor receptors.

Three distinct families of putative pheromone receptors have been identified in the healthy vomeronasal organ (V1Rs, V2Rs, and V3Rs). All are only distantly related to the receptors of the main olfactory system, highlighting their different role.[41]

Pheromones are released in our breath, our sweat, our tears and other bodily products such as urine. There are three axillary steroids that have been described as human pheromones: androstenone, androstenol, and androstandienone.[42]

In 2006, a second pheromone receptor sub-class, Trace Amine-Associated Receptors (TAAR), were found in the olfactory epithelium.[48]

In humans, a 2011 study showed that when volunteers were exposed to the pheromone androstadienone, all their brains showed a response, even if they lacked VNOs or had their VNOs blocked. The VNO is clearly not the only pheromone-sensing organ in the olfactory system.[40] Investigations continue into a possible pheromone nerve, known as cranial nerve 0, or the terminal nerve.

Other research has indicated that humans might be using these subtle smell cues to help select our mates. Variation in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), an important set of immune system genes, imbues each of us with a unique “odorprint,” like a fingerprint. With the exception of identical twins, no two individuals are likely to have the same odorprint.

In nature, the sexual union of unlike MHCs yields offspring with more diverse and thus more robust immune systems, so a possible theory is that axillary odors are being used to provide information about the immune system. Researchers found that the artificial odors that people chose as 'most pleasant' are determined in part by their major histocompatibility complexes (MHC) combination.[58]

Information about an individual’s immune system could be used as a way of “sexual selection” so that good genes would be selected for offspring.[44] Both men and women prefer the axillary odors of people whose MHC is different from their own.[59] Instinct may also guide us in this manner: Previous research has revealed that human females preferred the musk of sweaty T-shirts worn by males with suitably different MHC genes from their own.

 

This brief exploration of what goes on up our noses makes us aware that much of our input is unconscious and affecting us in ways we do not normally consider. We can use this information for input control and for defending ourselves against subliminal programming -for example not getting conned into doing something dodgy because this room or that person smells nice, and not getting anxious just because everyone around us is giving off anxiety pheromones.

Be aware that other senses are just as important, and now that we know there are many more than the original six, we have plenty of considerations for making beneficial changes in our lifestyle and habits to improve input for emotional stability.

 

 


The Big Picture

 

All genuine emotion makes sense when seen in its real biological context of behavior and survival, benefit and harm. This is one of the ways that we can start to recognize sentiment –it induces behavior that is not beneficial to our (or other people’s) survival, behavior that causes confusion and misunderstanding, usually action/reaction, and always obfuscation of the truth.

In the real world of jungles, oceans, deserts and mountains, (things that biology knows about), any creature using sentiment would very quickly be eaten or die of disease or famine, because there’s nothing like natural selection for keeping a lack of interactive abilities out of the gene pool in natural animal populations.

In artificial society, lack of interactive ability has become mainstream because it is actually valued; our societies encourage sentiment, helplessness and dependence in order that huge numbers of insecure people will spend both a lot of money and a lot of time frantically trying to acquire enough to stop feeling anxious.

Artificial systems function like parasites that suck everybody dry to keep the system itself going. Societies eat people, and are skilled at luring them in. Fortunately if we know what we’re doing we won’t get lured in, which is great because artificial reality and sentiment bring a great deal of unhappiness, sickness, danger and hassle to anyone who is reduced by anxiety to being stuck in them.

Without sentiment, and with involvement in a healthy culture, we only have real needs for real emotions to cater for; not greeds, guilts, insecurities or obsessions, and it takes a lot less time, hassle and energy to live that way.

In health terms, experiencing real emotion gives us more energy and better immunity, whereas sentiment exhausts us, reduces our immunity and exacerbates aging. So for those who like the computer analogy, if you’re still running old sentiment programs it’s definitely in your interests to upgrade ASAP.

The diagram below is a summary of networks, core emotion concepts, types of behavior and neurotransmitters. You can copy it into your Captain's Log for future reference.

 

 

 Healthy core emotions present in 6 sets, each with an option for ‘benefit’ and ‘danger’. Neurotransmitter abbreviations:5HT = serotonin (comfort/disgust); DA = dopamine (desire/alarm); NE = norepinephrine (certainty/uncertainty); ACh = acetylcholine (levity/gravity). Emotions associated with 'danger' are not ‘bad’; because it is important that people feel disgusted or alarmed when they encounter threats to their health, safety or wellbeing.

 

 

  DO IT NOW

 

What Do you Call that Feeling...

It is the expression, not the experience of emotion that varies with culture. Different cultures and groups have different names for the main emotions and for secondary emotions stemming from them. Below is a table showing the core emotions and some names you may use or encounter for them. Choose all the names that are most familiar to you from personal experience (ie, you personally have experienced feeling them), and put them on the right hand side, making a third column. Be careful NOT to use any sentiment terms for labeling your real emotions:

 

 

CORE EMOTIONS

NAMES USED FOR THEM AND DERIVATIVES OF THEM

 

comfort

happiness, sensuality, pleasure, serenity, centerdness, satisfaction, contentment

 

disgust

revulsion, discomfort, repulsion, nausea, grossed out

 

desire

excitement, lust, interest, attraction, fascination, curiosity

 

alarm

concern, startlement, surprise, dismay

 

empathy

amity, friendliness, liking, cameraderie, amiability, warmth, cordiality, goodwill, geniality, kindliness, affection

 

antipathy

offense, dislike, defensiveness, coldness, discord, protectiveness, resistance

 

levity

mirth, light heartedness, playfulness, jollyness, cheerfulness, good humor, amusement

 

gravity

determination, self-control, stamina, tenacity, rectitude, respect, bushido, dignity, honor, staying power, resolve, rectitude, propriety

 

certainty

confidence, self esteem, pride, assuredness

 

uncertainty

doubt, suspicion, confusion, incertitude, caution, wariness, prudence

 

unity

bliss, love, joy, oneness, ecstasy, fulfilment, nirvana, elation, enlightenment

 

separation

loss, grief, sorrow, distress, anguish, sadness

 

 

 


Put the names of the core emotions in your Captain's Log beside the names you are most familiar with personally for each of them. There are no right or wrong 'answers' here because everyone will be familiar with different terms. For example if someone I loved were to die, I would call what I'm feeling 'grief'. Others may call it anguish, sorrow or sadness.

The important thing to remember is that whatever name you choose for grief, it is based on the core emotion we ALL experience as "the pain and shock of unwanted separation".

For example, if the dude displaying 'separation behavior' in the picture above were an alien who told you his friend had died and he was feeling "SHLazzAAAHHt", you would still be able to associate that percept with a concept in your own memory and empathize with what he was feeling.

You now know some of the benefits to biology and survival that the emotional system provides –this is what emotion is for; it is to help the human species survive and thrive, understand each other, communicate, “do the right thing”, and augment our ability to adapt intelligently by interacting in constantly changing circumstances.

 


 

 

What Happens If Things Go Wrong?

If you drink much from a bottle marked 'poison' it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.

Alice in Wonderland

 

As we know by now, when any problem arises, and there is no disease or injury, we find that one or more networks are either underused or being used for the wrong things.

A creature's mind and mood must be in tune with what the body is doing, or there will be motivation without purpose and energy is wasted. If our reality-assessment system develops as intended, with full congruous association, problems don't arise. We are primed with the basics only, all details to be filled in by our culture, and this system is a marvelous way to ensure that an organism is highly adaptable and can fit into any local variation of healthy culture just as well as it can fit into any local variation of healthy environment.

If we are get only examples of useful (healthy) foods from our culture as physical input, and are allowed to choose which particular items we like and dislike from those foods, nothing can go wrong and everything makes sense and we'll be happy to try anything new that we see others eating.

If we are given only examples of useful (meaningful) words from our culture's main language as linguistic input, we will choose which particular words we feel we can best express ourselves with from those words, and nothing can go wrong and everything makes sense, and we'll be happy to learn new words and languages later.

If we are given only examples of useful (healthy) emotions as emotional input, we will choose which particular emotions we feel we can best express ourselves with from those emotions in every given instance, and nothing can go wrong and everything makes sense, and we'll be happy to learn new experiences later. Biology, while dealing adeptly with the here and now, is always making plans for the next stage, so natural learning is easy.

Biology didn't make plans, however, for us being dropped into a dysfunctional society and force-fed a load of nonsense on all fronts by those older and (theoretically) wiser than ourselves.

Instead of healthy food choices, a new system often gets examples of starchy junk filled with addictive toxins. Instead of sensible examples of adults communicating, it gets examples of 'baby-talk' (and quickly realizes that it is being 'set apart' from adults, who do not speak to each other this way) followed by automatic repetition of whatever was heard on TV.

And instead of examples of healthy emotions being adeptly used to augment our interaction and understanding, we get examples of sentiment; a set of dysfunctional uncontrolled reactions emerging from anxiety-driven, pathological neurochemistry, that from experience we observe always seem to lead to harm. And nothing makes sense. And this sort of learning makes us UNeasy.

From every direction a lot of us have junk thrown at us as input from day one. Can we wonder in retrospect that some of us get out of shape, ill, confused, and for many people life just doesn't seem to make sense? And so it goes on, and the more nonsense is thrust at us, the more anxious we become, and the less we can think clearly.

Snapback warning!

Anyone with a tendency to conspiracy theories or blaming society/parents/teachers, please take a moment to remember the fact that none of this is deliberate; it is simply down to inherent vulnerabilities of complex dynamic systems, in this case biology. If our parents or teachers were awful, its because their parents or teachers were awful and so on back ad infinitum, and it's time to stop trying to lay blame and take responsibility from now on for programming our own minds. Whatever happened in the past is in no way a barrier to us, since we can now recognize what is going on and deliberately steer ourselves and our behavior back into health and intelligence.

We can reprogram ourselves by modeling healthy emotions, and just like the little dude who learned only Klingon, but as soon as he heard human, changed over fast, we will turn automatically away from the sentiment option simply because it becomes very obvious very fast that genuine emotion is the most effective way of achieving the beneficial outcomes we desire.

If we pay attention to and model only healthy emotions, even if we only start doing that in middle- or old age, we will soon end up with a healthy emotional system that will (as will a healthy physical system) then keep itself in balance. We don't have to pay lots of attention to sentiments to get rid of them; we have to pay lots of attention to emotion.

 

Emotional Stability - Staying in the Green Zone

Remember the green zone? Here we can apply it to healthy emotion, and see what occurs when we slip outside of the green zone in either direction. This is shown on the table below.

 

We have used some common names for healthy emotions in brackets alongside their core emotion associations. Feel free to copy the table and replace the common names with your own preferred names for the emotions (as listed in your Captain's Log from the table you filled in above.)

 

TOO MUCH

wrong input = sentiment

JUST RIGHT

correct input =

healthy emotion

NOT ENOUGH

no input = sentiment

compulsion, hedonism

comfort

(satisfaction, pleasure, happiness)

anhedonia

phobic fear

disgust

(repulsion)

apathy

obsession, greed, craving, envy,

desire

(excitement, eagerness)

boredom

panic

 

alarm

(concern)

no sense of danger, temerity

possessiveness, jealousy, adherence

empathy

(friendliness, amity)

isolation, alienation, loneliness

anger, rage

antipathy

(defensiveness, offense)

timidity, fear

hysteria

levity

(playfulness, mirth)

cheerlessness

pomposity, megalomania

gravity

(resolve, propriety)

irreverence, carelessness

arrogance, hubris, mania

certainty

(confidence, pride)

shyness, guilt, shame

paranoia

uncertainty

(doubt, suspicion

gullibility, self-delusion

dysmorphia

unity

(love, joy)

indifference

hatred

separation

(sorrow, grief)

depression

 

All of the sentiments (in the two outside columns) use the same neurotransmitters as emotions.

In the left hand column the chemistry is spiked with a cocktail of anxiety steroids, notably Cortisol (also the case in ADHD, mania, schizophrenia and OCD). Aggression, dictatorial behavior and mania present. Front loaders, particularly with weak N3, are at more risk than rearloaders of slipping out of the green zone in this direction.

In the right hand column, original chronic anxiety has led to downgrading of both transmitters and their receptors (or these may never have developed), and neurotransmitters cannot evoke their intended response. Connections have either failed to form or have literally burned out, and blood cortisol (plus various other transmitters) may be low even though anxiety is present (often the case in PTSD, unipolar depression and dementia-related conditions). Lack of response, apathy and social problems present. Rearloaders, particularly with weak N6, are more at risk than frontloaders of slipping in this direction.

 

Q: Which is it worse to be stuck in; wronguse or nonuse? And which is worse -frontloading or rearloading?


 

A: Many students at first consider wrong input to be less harmful than no input at all -with wronguse, the argument goes, at least networks have been built and all we have to do is install the 'new software'. Nonuse is pretty deadly, because brain cells are literally dying off.

What is missed in such considerations is (a) development can proceed at any age and (b) wronguse eventually leads to burnout of brain cells -leaving us in exactly the same situation on the road to senility.

Likewise, students who are frontloaders sometimes consider themselves as 'better than' rearloaders because they believe they have built more bits of brain (this is not necessarily true) whilst rearloaders consider themselves more fortunate because at least they have developed in the right order without skipping networks and can proceed without having to 'go backwards' and fill stuff in (also not necessarily true).

There is no 'best' way to be stuck! Like an engine with six cylinders, if any one is missing the whole will not perform as intended. The only way to develop and keep a good brain is to give it what it needs -start using it in the right way and keep using it in the right way.

If a particular network is underdeveloped, we will obviously have a shortage of the neurochemicals it produces, and if a network is overused or developed in the wrong order, we will have an excess of those chemicals, or the wrong chemicals, unbalancing our neurochemistry and harmfully affecting both our overall health and our everyday behavior.

 

Some students misunderstand emotional stability and see it as 'behaving like Mr.Spock' or some sort of monk, and suppressing emotions. 'Emotional stability' doesn't mean we are always calm and serene and never get excited or feel extremes of emotion -far from it! Nor does it mean that we should suppress emotion. Emotional stability means we continue to experience and express healthy emotions relevant to our ongoing circumstances and do not become 'unstable' by slipping into sentiment.

We learn this in the same way the unconscious learns everything -simply by practice. Our brains have learned to make sentimental reactions happen, by copying examples of others doing it, in the home, in public, on TV, in school and work, and many of us must now take control and make a concerted effort to get hold of examples of healthy emotion to start training ourselves anew, with new thoughts and new, more successful behaviors.

Both emotion and sentiment strongly affect our behavior and our attitudes. Emotion is designed to do this; for example our justified pride at a worthy achievement increases attitudes of friendliness and confidence and improves our behavior. Unjustified pride (hubris) however goes hand in hand with arrogance (unjustified confidence) and increases attitudes of racism and sexism. [76]

Our neurochemistry constantly affects both our brain wiring and whether we are likely to feel emotion or sentiment. This is why controlling anxiety is so important for achieving emotional stability.

You will recall that cortisol is an important transmitter for avoiding danger by initiating 'protection mode' behaviors such as the fight / flight response.

During 'protection mode' (which occurs in danger, injury or grief), stressors like cortisol and substance P are high, but from biology's POV it's worth risking slight damage to health in order to stay alive, and after we have escaped the bad sitiation any remaining cortisol is broken down during the resulting cascade, because the natural course of events for biology is that relaxation always follows stress. We achieve this by releasing serotonin and endorphins, and re-routing blood supply back to the frontal lobes (which is co-opted during an emergency in favor of muscles and bones), bringing the onset of relief, repairing any damage done, upgrading our immunity and returning our neurochemistry to a comfortable balance. As you know, this is the relaxation response.

In healthy circumstances this is all fine; because it's worth risking cortisol's toxic side effects temporarily in real emergencies. And the point is, intelligent organisms don't often have to. They learn enough to predict in advance where and when trouble is likely to occur and consequently avoid such situations, and they're confident enough to trust intelligence to manage things whenever they do have to confront them.

In almost all instances where sentiment is experienced, the stress/relaxation chemical cascade is incomplete or absent and the relaxation response fails to happen. When the unconscious knows that something is wrong, cortisol continues to be produced and builds up in the bloodstream (thus becoming an increasing problem with age.)

With the stress response constantly turned on creating an overdose of cortisol we are predisposed to sentiment, and with the blood flow to frontal nets permanently reduced, networks die back and our capacity for the higher functions of intelligence (including rationality and conscious control of rear systems) is compromised. We begin using rear networks for automatic making of decisions and determining output –something our executive networks should really be doing.

When we're not anxious we all know that in real life we like doing some things society, parents, religions or teachers tells us are bad, and dislike doing some things they tell us are 'good'. Our perception is not warped and we know a stupid rule or idea when we meet one. We can maintain our own integrity, remain true to ourselves, and navigate around the others' stupidity.

When we feel anxious, insecure and uneasy, though, we become vulnerable to coercion. We see someone who seems less anxious and more confident than ourselves, usually a teacher or a parent, sometimes the school bully, and we automatically unconsciously model them. But our perception is warped, and what we see as strength is in fact arrogance and pomposity.

We'll soon find this role model spends a lot of time telling other people what to do. They certainly seem to know what's what. If they don't like something, it gets automatically associated with 'bad' in our unconscious, which is not at all congruous with reality. Remember two world wars? Need we say more?

The result of this path is the circular state of chronic anxiety most people think of as 'normal'. It is 'generalised anxiety disorder' (GAD).

As long as our physiology continues to add excess cortisol to the neurotransmitters being released we will have no free will. We will continue to experience automatic reactions and behavior instead of autonomic responses, and sentiments instead of emotions. Excess cortisol destroys some other transmitters for healthy emotion too, which exacerbates the problem. With every sentiment on the menu we get a free side-salad of (short term) inability to use rational conscious thought, long term memory loss, learning difficulties, physical health problems, and frontal lobe degradation. [77]

 

In viewing the table above, you will notice that many sentiments are also linked with symptoms of psychological disturbances such as obsessive compulsive disorder, manic depression (bipolar affective disorder), ADHD and paranoia. In the 'green zone' model (which is based on current research), such disorders can be looked on as ‘extremes’ of sentiment, all with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) as their root cause.

Persons with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) exhibit increased metabolic rates in several brain regions including the occipital and temporal lobes, cerebellum and thalamus, compared with healthy controls. Increased metabolic activity in the basal ganglia has also been reported. Hyperactive neurotransmitter circuits between the cortex, thalamus, Amygdala and hypothalamus are implicated. [78]

Neurotransmitter imbalance can cause onset of anxiety even without an external cause. Underactivity or loss of of serotonergic (serotonin-producing) neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus, and/or loss of GABA-producing neurones that are widely distributed in the brain may result in a lack of the inhibitory effect which the relaxation response would normally initiate.

Overactivity of noradrenergic neurons may also produce excessive excitation (burnout) in the brain areas implicated in GAD, and helps explain the lowering of acetylcholine in dementia & related diseases. [78]

Sentiments can also become like habits we are addicted to. They are a learned set of reactions accompanied with feelings induced by the resulting behaviors (tensed muscles, tight throat, shallow breathing, hypertension, digestive shutdown), a lot of which trigger the chemicals that invoke pain, cell death and inflammation. Yet crying and being comforted by others reduces stress hormones, and the temporary relief that comes after it may prove irresistable to the insecure. For some, it may be the only way to get anything like a relaxation response.

When doused in anxiety hormones, the Amy and the Hippo (specifically the parahippocampal gyrus(PHG))[79] respond (quite reasonably) to incoming percepts with chemical cascades and associated graphic concepts of things going wrong. This causes immediate (again, quite reasonable) suspicion that something IS going wrong and whatever it is, it seems dangerous.

Increased activation in the right Amygdala causes stronger 'danger' weighting on everything perceived, and corresponds to an inability to detect trustworthy behavior, and a basic distrustfulness. The PHG in healthy life acts like a 'BS detector' and the more uncertain we become, the more active it gets. [79]

The unconscious mind is correct; something IS going wrong, and it IS dangerous. Half the brain is being consistently deprived of oxygen.

There is an argument that anxiety could be viewed as the mind simply making an automatic sane response to perceiving insane circumstances; but the problem with this argument lies in the word 'automatic'. With a fully mature system, we shouldn't be limited to automatic responses; we should have the automonous control we are intended to have of these systems and if we did, we'd see that the 'sane response to insane circumstances' is in fact adaptation; both of ourselves and the circumstances. Without frontal lobe tools, we cannot adapt to interact with people and situations competently because we can't think straight.

This should allay any doubts as to the benefits of our practising anxiety control! At this intermediate stage in NH most of us will have already experienced greater clarity as a result of such practices, and we may also have begun to notice from experience just how befuddled the mind can become when anxiety arises.

Instead of having to wait until anxiety has already taken over and caused problems, or discovering two days later (when the hormones have worn off) that we behaved in a stupid way, we can now notice how it feels when anxiety is trying to take us over and take steps to prevent it happening.

Although this is great, many students get frustrated during this phase, as for a while we still can't stop the anxious reactions even though we are noticing them, but this is a good sign of control-related networks growing and making connections. Also, this awareness of anxiety's onset gives you the opportunity to practice exercises & hacks etc to reduce anxiety while it's happening in real time, instead of getting caught up in the hormonal rush and behaving like a dumbass.

Once we understand how anxiety creeps up on our minds like the effects of a mind-numbing drug, we begin to learn tricks such as: if we get or see information that invokes sentiment, we don't respond until we feel totally calm and our brain has had time to restore frontal blood supply and reassess the situation. When calm, we may go and look up the sentiment in our 'green zone' table above and see what emotion it was replacing, and get some healthy emotion practice. Knowledge of what is going on gives us more power -to move towards interaction and autonomy of behavior instead of falling into anxiety and reacting automatically with sentiment.


 

Common Obstacles to Emotional Stability: The Vorlons and The Shadows

With practice, once we recognize subjectively how anxiety feels when it is happening to us, we start to be able to take control and remain calm in the midst of others' chaos, and at some point we have the experience of being able to continue thinking clearly when all around are not.

This experience really takes some students by surprise. It has been described variously as feeling like: "sobriety in a room full of drunk people"; "being a sighted person in a room full of blind people", "a free human being in a society full of zombie slaves", "stepping out of The Matrix", "suddenly having a superpower", and, "it's like there was a bag on my head, and I'd been trying to get it off for some time, and one day it just fell off and I could see that everyone else was still wearing one, but they don't know it's there... And they are frantically guessing what to do about all this unknown murky scary stuff called life that they think they can see through the cloth of the bag, and that's the whole of their reality."

 

The Vorlons

When you find yourself at this stage, beware! Some students immediately feel like a parent, and sentiment creeps in as patronizing sympathy (feeling 'sorry for' these unfortunate others), and/or pompous arrogance (trying to make them change, or push them to do things, 'for their own good'.)

This is a coercion trap. If you find yourself thinking righteously, "I only want to help them free their minds!" be aware that anxiety has got you and you are being arrogant and pompous. You have slipped out of the green zone, you're not thinking straight, and you're deluding yourself into believing that other people can be helped by your intentional interference, (or 'teaching' as its often called.)

For a good example, this was the attitude of the 'Vorlons' in Babylon 5, who believed they were here to 'parent' the younger species 'for their own good'.

What this means is coercion and it's exactly what interrupts others' development and gets in their way. This urge to control others "to help them" is based on anxiety and this must be understood before you go further.

Don't fall for this anxiety-based distraction! Remember, you are responsible for yourself and ONLY yourself, and whenever you are focusing on others and their business you are not only being rude, you are neglecting yourself and your own business, which is your own intelligence development! Rest assured that if intelligent people need your input they will ask for it; that's one of the things intelligence does best; it seeks out exactly what it needs for itself.

So if overcome by any sentiments of superiority, we must protect ourselves by firmly employing the core conditions in interactions with others (we'll give some examples in the next tutorial), and get on conscientiously with our own development.

By setting this example with our behavior, we are providing the best (and in fact the ONLY) input that can help other people, as no coercion is taking place and their intelligence can proceed without obstacles. Instead of trying to take over with (whatever good) intentions, we are trusting the intent of every intelligence to automatically recognize and model whatever it personally needs from our example, as it must. That's why focusing on our own development is the only way to help others. Living examples inspire respect, motivation and modeling in others. Coercion turns them off and motivates protective defensiveness.

That is not to say that our goal is 'to become something that others respect and want to emulate'; our goal is to set ourselves free from thinking about others and what they think of us, and keep moving towards greater intelligence ourselves, never allowing others' anxious intentions scare us into doing anything else.

All natural learning is automatic; there is no such thing as a teacher, except in the sense that whatever we model from all life, all persons, and all experience is our 'teacher'. We have no knowledge of what intelligence needs in others, because its needs will be completely different from those of our own, even from those of our own twin.

Our culture should have taught us round about age seven that its harmful (and consequently offensive) to interfere with other people's lives. Instead our society taught us that people interfering with and controlling others is what life's all about. But in real life, because of the way intelligence works, nobody can ever help anybody become more intelligent by intention, because any kind of coercion automatically turns off motivation and sends a 'warning, dictator alert' straight to the Amy. At that point, intelligence feels repelled (because unconsciously we know it's harmful) and if we're anxious we'll get annoyed, resentful, afraid or embarrassed.

But if we're not anxious we'll turn away and say "We'll learn best by ourselves, thankyou very much, now get the hell out of our galaxy".

In teenage years, this repulsion is called 'rebelling'. In terms of intelligence it is simply integrity; making a stand about what we know is and is not beneficial to our development, and practising input control accordingly.

To grow intelligence (in both ourselves and others) we have to stop trying to make things happen, play with lots of good input, and allow intelligence to work in the way it knows best (ie, it automatically selects and copies other intelligent behavior wherever and whenever it sees it). Intelligence is SELF-improving. Constant improvement by ourselves is what self-improving means.

 

Q: If we're not supposed to intentionally teach people, what are these tutorials for?

A: A good mnemonic for what they're for is 'FINE' (Facts, Ideas, News, Experiences).

We embrace the original spirit of the internet; tutorials and all other articles here are tools for open sharing of data (Facts), experiments & projects that might prove worthwhile (Ideas), the latest scientific discovery & research (NH News) and the methods, tools and tech we have found useful and that may be useful to others (Experiences). All of these provide useful information, which we believe all have right to access and which any intelligence may use as it pleases.

These tutorials are not here for those who want to be taught, they are here for those who want to teach themselves. We expect you to need to do things 'your way' and seek the input you personally need for improving your own lives and minds.

A good mnemonic for avoiding wasting our time in seeking input is: 'BLOC' (Beliefs, Lies, Opinions, Complaints). None of these are useful, most are harmful. As George Carlin said, "It's all bullshit and its bad for you, folks".


 

The Shadows

Another common problem at the stage when we discover anxiety-free experiences is the 'no pain no gain' argument. It too is anxiety-driven, comes from forgetting some stuff we have learned already and it goes like this: If you alter your input and make all efforts to avoid anxiety, and never challenge yourself, isn't that just like running away from reality and living in a dream world where nothing nasty ever happens? Shouldn't we be getting practice at dealing with the nasties of life that we shall at some point certainly have to face, rather than shielding ourselves?

An analogy often used is, we have to get used to encountering germs as a child and build up our immune system, or we'll be badly infected in later life -isn't anxiety just like that? We need exposure to nasty things in order to grow?

If you find yourself thinking such things, you are using the argument of "The Shadows" in Bablylon 5, and you have forgotten the vital difference between stress and anxiety as well as this golden rule: Always do things in the right order.

Now you remember! Stress/relaxation is essential for learning, whereas chronic stress (anxiety) prevents all learning. We can't experience stress/relaxation naturally until after we get rid of anxiety.

Anxiety results from long-term fight/flight response with the system in 'protection mode' with no relaxation response. No learning or growth can take place whilst we're in protection mode.

Stress is healthy, anxiety is pathological. Deliberately throwing stressors at a person already in chronic stress is just exacerbating the problem; it's like deliberately exposing someone to new diseases to 'improve their immune system' whilst they're already fighting a chronic infection with poorly-developed immunity.

From time to time, we will forget all this, and need to remind ourselves that we cannot do anything until we have got the tools with which to do it. Trying to do so is like trying to run before you have grown legs.

We cannot chew food until we have grown teeth, we cannot resist infections until our immune system is mature enough to do so (which is why we are still protected by breast milk). We cannot walk until our muscles have grown and developed, we cannot perceive real life in any rational way or make memories until we have built the brain networks and senses to do so, and we cannot adapt to stressors until we have learned the relaxation response and real-time control of body systems.

This classic misunderstanding is a major feature of JC Pearce's and Jean Liedloff's works [80]; it is the same mistake that has been made by parents, educators and well meaning child carers of the last several generations, resulting in the mental health mess that we see today.

This is the question they ask:

"If the infant never gets any knocks, hurts or disappointments from us, how will s/he learn about how to cope with such things in real life?"

Firstly this is assuming that 'real life' really IS full of bad problems and knocks and bummers, and the point is, if you're intelligent it isn't. Once you have built the tools to deal with stress, shit happens only rarely, because a strong intelligence is a good predictor, flexible, adaptable, interactive, and an adept director of its own circumstances.

Anxiety can only arise if we do not yet have the tools to adapt to deal with stressors. And we can't develop those tools while stressors are constantly incoming and anxiety is still present (because the brain can't grow AT ALL in anxiety-based chemistry and 'protection mode'). We can't even maintain frontal lobe blood supply when anxiety is present.

 

To recap, the right order is:

1. Reduce anxiety (relaxation response). Remove harmful input & prevent new incoming harmful input (input control). This changes our brain chemistry so that our brain is in growth & development mode again, and reestablishes blood supply to frontal lobes. This is basic level NH.

We need an anxiety-free zone for a certain period of time in order to trigger the gene transcription that reboots mental development. We can't develop the frontal lobes effectively if their blood supply is constantly compromised. That development is what provides us with the tools for adaptation to stress and control of circumstances, such as interaction and conscious input control.

 

2. Practice using stress-adaptation tools as the networks grow. This means we learn how to adapt ourselves to circumstances and how to respond to stressors with calm determination and focus. We also learn how to adapt our environment to suit ourselves (via input control, interaction, strategy & planning) so that fewer problems arise. This gives intelligence powerful tools to use. This is intermediate level NH.

To practice using these tools, all we need is everyday real life, which has quite enough foxy puzzles and stressors in it without requiring deliberate imposition of more by 'well-intentioned' others.

 

3. We can now go ahead with further development and augmentation. With optimal brain chemistry and now healthy responses, anxiety will NEVER arise. Stressors are now opportunities for improvement; they are no longer problems, they are interesting challenges. We now aim to stretch ourselves for learning purposes. Stress was never the enemy; in a healthy mind stress is on your side.

With anxiety present, we cannot have free will. Once we are able to maintain frontal lobe blood flow under stress, then we are in control and can pretty much deal with anything thrown at us and adapt with muscular-mindedness, addressing the issues competently with the tools of interaction so that problems do not arise. [81]

The logic of doing things in the right order, of building the foundations BEFORE the house, planting the seeds BEFORE expecting the plants to grow, may seem obvious, but it's surprising how often anxiety will make us forget it.

 

Why It's so Difficult to Tell If we're Feeling Sentiment

"Damage report?"

"I don't know! ... the damage report machine is broken!"

(Lister & Cat, Red Dwarf)

 

This quote describes exactly the problem we face when trying to tell sentiment from emotion. Until anxiety has reduced sufficiently, the system that should be detecting and diagnosing problems (our frontal lobes) aren't fully wired up and are running on low power. They can't wire up until brain chemistry returns to 'growth mode' and enough congruous associations have been made for us to have a basic picture of how reality works, and it can't get sufficient power while that power is being routed to muscles and bones instead of brain. That's what happens in protection mode.

Anxiety is always a double whammy to intelligence -perception is warped, and the frontal lobes’ clarity of judgment -the very thing that could have rationally questioned it- is shut down. You have probably already realized that when things go wrong and shut down frontal lobes, we become less able to tell whether or not things have gone wrong.

The very thing with which we can detect dysfunction; our intelligence, becomes itself dysfunctional, like a starship that keeps sounding 'red alert!' and calling us to battle stations because of dysfunction. Not knowing this is going on, the unconscious tends to blame anything external that comes to hand or things it personally is afraid of, for the 'danger'.

This is classic source attribution error. The real danger lies within, in the fact that our mind can't cope with stressors because it doesn't yet have the tools to do so and we are out of control and running on automatic. Sentiments wire in as automatic unconscious habits when the frontal lobes are shut down, using all the processing space intended for these tools. Because of brain plasticity, after a time these anxious reactions will have become habitual, along with the habits of bad input that induced them in the first place. [82]

Distraction is another problem. Emotion focuses our attention on what we are supposed to be doing. [83] Sentiment distracts our attention from what we're supposed to be doing. Both sentiment and emotions are attention-getters, because the unconscious is well aware that emotion is intended to communicate important (weighted) information.

Axons from the Amygdala converge on an attention hub in the brain called the thalamic reticular nucleus, directing attention where it needs to go. This pathway from the Amygdala to the reticular nucleus appear to be unusually strong, and anxiety disorders are often marked by hypervigilance to potential threats — real or, more often, perceived — in the outside world. In contrast, people with burnout and severe depression can often have trouble paying attention to anything outside of their own mind. [83]

We can also expect resistance to accepting that we're feeling sentiments, due to anxiety. Excess Cortisol has already been shown to affect our behavior and memory through the impact on blood supply to the brain and neurochemical imbalance. Effectively it rewires the brain to 'knock out' rationality and creativity, making us change-fearing robotic creatures of habit who make rote decisions and act automatically, instead of adapting and changing our behavior autonomously to improve outcomes.

Judgment is seriously affected too. Two areas of the brain involved in decision-making (the prelimbic cortex and the dorsomedial striatum) fall quickly into nonuse under the influence of anxiety, and then atrophy. This makes it harder and harder to make good decisions about what's really going on as time goes by.

This is why we start work on emotional stability by first consolidating our understanding of healthy emotion and practising it. Doing so gives us a 'base of knowledge' and a safe place to work outwards from, reduces anxiety, and improves our confidence and self esteem.

With those advantages we can progress to long-term regular hacks such as co counseling, interactional analysis or cognitive behavioral therapy, IF we feel they are necessary. For some people (usually those with well-developed and balanced rear nets), just recognizing and naming what they are meant to be feeling triggers immediate developmental change and no further hacking is necessary (if a program works really well and never crashes, why recode it?)

Most of us though find we need a technique such as co counseling or interactional analysis to help reprogram parts of N3, and we'll explain those methods in tutorial 10.

With these and other techniques that we'll explore in this and the next tutorials, we can efficiently develop a conscious strategy for self control and ensure emotional and physical behavior that is appropriate to our situation, circumstances and context; interactions that lead to successful outcomes instead of away from them.

This is the beginning of the process of unconscious and conscious integration and congruity. All that means is that the conscious mind and the unconscious mind will become ever more like close friends playing together instead of antagonists on a field of battle.

There are exercises for practising healthy emotions in the 'hacks & exercises' section of this tutorial.

 

 


Bulletproof Bunnies

 

It takes a certain critical mass of network-building practice AND environmental input to furnish us with effective experiential tools for dealing with and adapting to stressors, and without these tools, stressful situations without relaxation will lead to chronic anxiety. The whole point of achieving emotional stability is, once these networks are mature and we have these tools, the same experiences will NOT cause anxiety!

The real secret is, they won't BE the same experiences, because a very important variable in our experience will have changed -and it's ourselves.

We'd like to introduce you to Bob and Alice, who will feature in our next tutorial too. In our examples, Bob and Alice and their friends are our 'actors' who demonstrate behaviors. (Note: Alice is not always the sensible one!)

Imagine Alice and Bob go out for a meal together, and eat the exact same average meal. On the way out, some drunks on the street shout "F****** Weirdos!" Bob gets sick next day and Alice doesn't.

Bob is not a neurohacker. He's not going to think "Aha! Alice didn't get sick because her immunity's better than mine, since I'm anxious all the time," or, "Maybe I can't eat so much junk food as Alice because I'm anxious all the time and my digestion's compromised," or, "Well I did lay awake all night worrying if those drunks were shouting at us and why they might think we were weirdos." Bob is going to blame the restaurant for bad hygiene and write off Alice's escape as 'lucky'.

This may be what happened in reality, or it may not be. It's an unjustified guess, but Bob firmly believes that bacteria took action against him and his body reacted; that the drunks took action against him and he reacted. He has a world view in which action/reaction is 'normal', and 'bullets' like this hit Bob all the time.

In Alice's world, there are no bullets. Her system has the tools that enable her to adapt to cope with stressors (and this is true for emotional stressors and mental stressors just as much as physical stressors.) Alice can eat junk food in moderation with no problem. She lives in the here and now and remembers never to eat junk when unwell or depressed. She's in tune with her biology and if she feels the slightest bit out of balance she takes immediate steps to work with her body. Alice doesn't pay any attention to stupid drunks yelling things in public, because that's just what stupid drunks do every night all over the world and she also knows that whenever we pay attention to stupid we will become more stupid. Alice has better things to do with her mind and controls her own attention, never allowing stupidity to distract it.

The incident bounces off her mind like a bullet deflected from a force field; there is no association except the dismissive one for it to link on to, the Amy registers "Irrelevant; ignore", although Alice might take a glance at the drunks' appearance in order to recognize and avoid them in future, as she does with all stupid things.

This is why we don't have to show you how to dodge bullets (for 'bullets' read 'problems') -when you are ready, you won't have to. They won't BE bullets anymore, and you'll wonder how you ever perceived them as bullets in the first place. You'll see 'problems' for what they really are -changes in circumstances that you can apprehend in midflow, interact with as you please for learning purposes, or simply ignore as you move past.

A properly developed intelligence has the muscular-mindedness to interact with real life. We can employ the relaxation response at will, control our own neurochemistry and maintain frontal lobe blood flow despite stressful situations, decide of our own free will what to pay attention and what not to, and even raise our physical immunity. We are building the tools for these abilities whenever we practise anxiety reduction and input control.

This is what autonomy and free will are all about. Without anxiety we have the freedom and the power to interact in a dynamic way with reality; protected by the abilities that we have ourselves set up -the ability to control our bodies and minds in order to remain competent, intelligent, and rational.

With these abilities, many incidents no longer have the power to be stressors, and those that do can no longer build up to cause anxiety; they just become opportunities to push ourselves in order to learn even more adaptive skills. A free (autonomous) intelligence is self-improving. Even when something truly awful happens, such as the death of a loved one, emotional stability will enable us to grieve healthily and recover undamaged, able to access comforting memories.

But the most important part to remember is this: We cannot learn to do any of this in the first place if we are never given a safe, hassle-free space in which to develop the mental tools needed for the job.

If you've been practising regularly, are thinking more clearly and are aware of being less anxious, emotional stability is the final tool you'll need to begin real time interaction, and we'll be introducing exercises to practice real time interaction in the next tutorial.

 

 Golden Rule 3: You will Become More Like Whatever You are Surrounded By

In tutorial 8 we observed N1-N3's sub-directive: In developing networks 1- 3 we are mastering the art of adapting ourselves to better fit in with the needs of our context (environment & circumstances). That includes building the tools to deal with stressors effectively, and this golden rule applies directly to that process.

Every cell in the brain tries to adapt to everything in its environment; everything it perceives it is surrounded by. “Whatever you are surrounded by”, for the brain, means “input”. This is true in an internal, biochemical sense (cells are surrounded by chemical and electrical signals) and an external, physical environmental way (that we pick up with our senses), as well as in an abstract mental way (our own thoughts, behaviors, words, imaginings and memories -these too are part of our 'input').

A most important point we must therefore remember about anxiety is that until we are practising input control, its origin is very often NOT ourselves. The chemistry of anxiety is infectious, it is airborne and transferable by touch, it can be invoked by sound, color and smell, tone of voice, choice of words, place- or person-association, it triggers involuntary modeling via facial expression. It can usurp quorum sensing systems and spread mass panic, [84] so that is why your input control NH toolkit is your best friend.

One of the main ways anxiety spreads, as we discussed above, is through pheromones and scents; airborne chemicals that send a sample of “where we are at” through the air all around us. The smell of the sweat people produce when anxious is not only registered by your brain, but changes your behavior too. It activates a 'red alert' signal in a part of network 3, and cortisol rises (this change can be measured in your saliva). [85]

Obviously this input stops as soon as we are out of range, but basically, hanging around anxious people makes us feel anxious in exactly the same way that hanging around people who are attractive to us makes us feel attracted (this, too, starts up your nose).

Unconscious signals induce mimicry as much as or even more than conscious ones. Your own body will start to synchronize with the bodies of those you spend most of your time with. That includes your heart rate, breathing, and sleep cycle, for females menstruation and for males testosterone production, your hormones and your brain chemistry, and from there on in everything else about you that relies on brain chemistry to function. You literally will become dumber, if you hang out a lot with dumb people.

The same is true of watching dumb behavior, either on TV or in real life. If it is something you are laughing at, your brain can put it into perspective, but if you are not laughing (no signals from the facial muscles) the brain thinks it's serious input, meant to be copied and adapted to.

To summarize, a growing body of research suggests that subliminal sensory information, whether from scents, vision or hearing, affects perception. In fact, subliminal data have more effect on perception than those that we are conscious of. If we are conscious of a sound, visual stimulus or odor we tend to consciously attribute it to a cause and process it separately from other input. Conversely, subliminal input gets ‘lumped in’ with and attributed to any coincident input. Anxiety spreads in a predictable way, similar to a contagious disease.

Psychologists call this phenomenon emotional contagion, a three-step process through which one person's feelings transfer to another person. The first stage involves nonconscious mimicry, during which individuals subtly copy one another's nonverbal cues, including posture, facial expressions and movements. In effect, seeing my frown makes you more likely to frown. People may then experience a feedback stage--because you frowned, you now feel sad. During the final contagion stage, individuals share their experiences until their emotions and behaviors become synchronized. Thus, when you encounter a co-worker on a bad day, you may unknowingly pick up your colleague's nonverbal behaviors and begin to morph into an unhappy state. Mimicry is not all bad, however; a person can also adopt a friend or colleague's good mood, which can help enhance their bond. [109]

Families or groups we spend a lot of time with when growing up can have extra sinister effects.

Epigenetic changes trip genes on or off in our parents and the resulting changes can certainly be inherited. This is amazing, but there's a rather more amazing secondary mechanism called 'familial' inheritance, in which gene expression is not genetically inherited but adopted (copied) from those around us, so the habits of parents, peers and teachers can cause epigenetic changes in us too.

This is universal; the habits of those you are surrounded by, whether genetically related to you or not, can affect your genes. So this is a golden rule for a good reason -You really DO become more like whatever you are surrounded by in a scarily literal way, because it's a part of natural intelligence development to figure out what we are surrounded by and then adapt to 'fit in' with our surroundings, just as we later adapt our surroundings to better suit ourselves.

With enough regular exposure, your biology will adapt your genetic code to express itself more like others' (and this even includes other animals). Fortunately, it works the other way round, so as long as you practise input control, you'll just be a good healthy influence on everyone you meet.

This golden rule is obvious on the cognitive level, because it's how we interact and learn; we are natural 'modelers'. In order to learn a procedure we 'become more like the teacher', and we copy their behavior and train of thought (forging the same pathways in our own minds).

But the rule is also true on an unconscious level, and it's a part of how bonding happens in healthy relationships, and also how empathy functions. We pick up whatever it is that others are communicating unconsciously as well as hearing what they say and seeing what they do, and our own systems are designed to copy that.

We can however turn this biological tendency to our own advantage in both input and output control. There are hacks for this towards the end of this tutorial.

 

 


 

 

The Unconscious Mind

 

Q: Do you think most of the mind is conscious, or unconscious?

 

A: Although the conscious mind is what we notice above the surface precisely because it's conscious, the unconscious mind is the largest and most powerful part, remaining silent -but far from unheeded- below surface awareness.
 

Only a small percentage of the whole mind is conscious. The large majority of the brain's activity takes place on hidden levels; and the conscious part – the "me" that boots up when we wake up in the morning – is only a tiny bit of the brain's operations.

Think about it -at any given time, all memories, ideas, processes and thoughts that are out of current conscious awareness are by definition 'unconscious.' The conscious mind is constantly supported by vast unconscious resources.

Now think of all the things you know how to do without conscious awareness. If you drive, swim, dance or ride a bike, you use over 30 specific processes without being aware of any of them. These are processes requiring not just body maintenance but intelligent decision-making, judgment and learning.

The conscious mind is what we ordinarily think of when we say 'my mind.' It's associated with thinking consciously; communicating with words, analyzing and synthesizing and making judgments and decisions. The conscious mind actively directs its output because only so much information can reside in conscious awareness (and working memory) at once. Everything else falls back below the 'awareness' line, into unconsciousness.

So most of your intelligence is unconscious. It makes good sense, then, that most neurohacking will take place on an unconscious level. And it means that can realistically start thinking of ourselves as 'mostly unconscious intelligences', (as compared with 'totally unconscious intelligences' such as amebas or slime molds).

Far from being a largely conscious entity able to access a small supporting set of unconscious processes, we can now view our intelligence as a largely unconscious entity able to access a small enhancing set of conscious processes. Consciousness does not endow us with intelligence -it merely enhances the abilities of the intelligence we already have, giving it the opportunity to express itself rationally as well as metaphorically, abstractly as well as concretely.

The unconscious is where most of the work of the mind gets done; it's the repository of automatic skills, the source of intuition and dreams, creativity, problem-solving and information processing. Fleeting perceptions register on the unconscious mind all the time without our being consciously aware of them. Most unconscious responses are automatic, including those that we have formed from habits.

The fact that most of our intelligence is unconscious shouldn't come as any great surprise. We know that intelligent behavior can arise without conscious intelligence, and we observe that much of the automatic behavior of simple creatures (or robots) is intelligent behavior. Even the behavior of complex organisms like ants can be seen as simply 'programs' developed by evolution to ensure adaptive intelligent behavior (it's easy for such a program to 'emerge' when everything that doesn't behave in adaptive intelligent ways goes extinct).

Even so, it's easier to interpret their behavior as 'automatic programming' than it is our own complex behavior, and we also see that they do not appear to have free will.

With the emergence of emotion intelligence was able to motivate behavior consciously as well as unconsciously, and also able to reprogram automatic system with the most useful chosen behaviors. Emotion also enabled memory weighting and information categorization.

All this new processing relies on our database of associated concepts and their graphic representations in N3's inner model.

 

The Architecture of Memory and the Unconscious Inner Model

As we know, the unconscious processes information on an interior subjective model of reality, constructed from experience, memory, logical inference, and our brain's ability to spatially map out it's own internal representation of our surroundings. It picks out patterns from the stream of information it receives in the form of electrical signals, patterns that are image-based codes or odor-based codes or audio-based codes, that contain a compressed record of the proximal stimuli.

Our brain uses these patterns to assemble images on our internal 'screen', representations that are (if we are healthy) correctly related to our real surroundings. Data enters in 'bits', but our mind creates the appearance of smooth continuous courses of events. Our mind maintains this internal spatial map, like our own internal graphical model, so that we may consult it to form plans, take actions, move about, control and manipulate and interact with our environment and circumstances. But we don't really 'see' what is around us; we see whatever our perception enables us to know about our environment. It's a construct.

It's a modular construct, because the brain is modular and coordinates in the model match coordinates in the brain. And it's a spatial construct, because it develops from our brain's ability to spatially map out it's own internal representation of our surroundings.

As we stated above, the evolutionary shift from unconscious automatic control to autonomous self control emerges from biology's following 'least energy wasted/best results' algorithms.

"Best results" means a network is good at recognizing input patterns. In biological terms, 'least energy wasted' depends on a lot of things. It includes the energy costs not just of building new connections, but maintaining them, the energy to transmit along them, and signal delays, all of which increase as a function of connection length and number. [42]

Multiple studies of the brain overall and individual networks (modules) suggest that the summed length of the wiring diagram has been minimized.

Until very recently (2012) researchers assumed that the single criterion evolution is using to develop brain networks is the measure of whether a network is good at recognising input patterns or not. But this is not biology's only rule. There are two rules underlying the development of efficient modular networks, and the second rule reflects biology's obsession with energy-conservation. Indeed, without this rule networks do not evolve modularity. [43]

Selection for best pattern-recognition alone doesn't produce modular networks. Selection to reduce connection costs however produces modular networks (that is to say, modularity emerges when network costs are taken into account). [43]

'Evolvability' describes how well populations are capable of rapidly adapting to novel environments. [44] Experiments and simulations have shown that modular systems are more evolvable than non-modular systems when conditions change, and biological systems such as brain networks, gene regulatory networks and metabolic pathways tend to be modular. [42]

There is now clear evidence for the unconscious spatiotopic map in humans: one which can be influenced by image motion. [45]

It's also apparent that it's based on an hexagonal grid system. [46] In 2012 researchers discovered that memory itself uses a 6-bit system right down at the cellular level. [47] An essential chemical for LTP is the hexagonal enzyme CaMKII. Pre-synaptic excitation causes the snowflake-shaped CaMKII to transform, extending sets of 6 leg-like kinase domains above and below a central domain, the activated CaMKII resembling a double-sided insect.

Each kinase domain can phosphorylate a substrate, and thus encode one bit of synaptic information. Ordered arrays of bits are termed bytes, and 6 kinase domains on one side of each CaMKII can thus phosphorylate and encode calcium-mediated synaptic inputs as 6-bit bytes. This results in hexagonally-based patterns of phosphorylated tubulins in microtubules forming an inter-neuronal substrate for memory. [47]

Microtubule-associated protein logic gates have been demonstrated and show how patterns of phosphorylated tubulins in microtubules can control neuronal functions by triggering axonal firings, regulating synapses, and traversing scale.

The most detailed images of brain wiring itself, to date (2012), also reveal a pervasive 3D grid structure. The wiring of the mature brain appears to mirror three primal pathways established in embryonic development. [49]

Network connections form along perpendicular pathways, running horizontally, vertically and transversely. This grid structure appears to guide connectivity, which limits options for growing nerve fibers to change direction during development. This may enforce a more efficient, orderly way for the fibers to find their proper connections – and for the structure to adapt through evolution [49]

One of the results of all this inner geometry is that the inner model shares it. The mind associates its own design with the nature of reality as it knows it, and we have to remember that almost all input to N3 comes from within.

N3 has only one direct sensory apparatus for input and that is the olfactory system. All the rest of its input comes from other brain networks -not (and this is very important)- not from the outside world. N3 is like a dude in a windowless capsule, with cameras, tools and sensors on the outside and computers and monitors on the inside. It cannot see or feel or hear anything directly for itself from what is 'out there'. It's in a virtual reality and it has to predict what things are like from whatever data is available to model reality from.

Everything in reality has to be representable on the same model as a 'code image' with multiple associations. The model, in this respect, is a 'context' for reality-portrayal that must model the context of reality itself as well as the architectire of the brain.

Below is a diagram of how an hexagonal inner-model context with six core concepts can be applied to multiple sets of associations.

 

 

The unconscious uses the same contextual model and the same core concepts regardless of the details populating it. For example it can model 'functions of network 3'; 'types of memory'; 'basic behaviors' and 'emotions' onto the exact same background context, as seen above.

 

Unconscious Code

Imagine your unconscious mind (the great majority of your intelligence) as an onboard supercomputer that has been programmed with graphic images of factual information about reality learned through the experience of several billion years, it can't speak any language and can only communicate in its own codes. Every new human gets one. This, taking up most of the brain, is your 'body of knowledge' -knowledge that your system has 'embodied' literally into its genome over billions of years.

This experience-programmed computer, whose 'rules for success' were laid down by direct real-life feedback favoring pattern-recognition and energy-conservation algorithms, doesn’t classify the world in the same terms that intellect and academia do, it categorizes it in the terms of actual practical evolutionary experience of reality. Nor can it think in words; its entire memory is a massive network of associated graphic concepts placed according to an inner model that it has constructed from all previous evolutionary experience. The unconscious contains -or rather, embodies- the accumulated knowledge of life thriving and adapting in reality through time.

Despite the difference in taxonomic systems, this knowledge is far from randomly stored or categorized -the unconscious mind has evolved its own associations between branches of knowledge and they are not at all the same as those synthetic (and often changing) categories we have organized in academia.

Consequently, those of us who had a school education and were taught categorization according to society’s ‘reductionist style’ categorizations may feel that understanding N3’s map can seem like trying to understand how an alien civilisation has classified its knowledge! But it’s easier than we may initially think, because the brain’s map is our very own biological construct, based on human needs, and it makes intuitive sense as well as cognitive sense. We don’t in fact so much have to learn it as to ‘remember it is there'.

This is a treasure we are already carrying in our heads, it is our inherited "intrinsic (inner) culture". Whatever adaptations we make in our own life experience that affect our genome will be passed on in that intrinsic 'body of knowledge' to future generations, and our ability to interface it in sync with conscious processing and our extrinsic (outer) culture in real time is the measure of our congruity of association.

Researchers began to discover some time ago (2009) how to 'read' some aspects of unconscious code; for example the timing of when and for how long olfactory neurons respond to odors is how the brain encodes smell, and this can be viewed by observation of only one or two neurons. Individual neurons preserve almost the full information about the precise temporal dynamics of the odor. Researchers can predict the firing pattern of a neuron from the sequence of odor molecules, or predict the odor's temporal sequence from the neuron's firing pattern. [50]

A month later others announced that by placing a rat in a virtual reality maze under fMRI, just by looking at the brain data of place cells one can predict exactly where it is in that virtual reality environment. In other words, researchers can 'read' its spatial perception. [51]

It was the discovery that these same patterns were repeated in sleep that led to the discovery of memory-defragging. Work with humans has now shown that researchers can tell where a person is "standing" within a virtual reality room on the basis of the pattern of activity in their brain alone. [51] Spatial representations of the type investigated in the study are thought to form the scaffold 'grid' of the inner model. The unconscious uses imagery associated with patterns to represent all concepts in this model.

In 2011 researchers had the fun idea of connecting neurons to computers to decipher the enigmatic code of neuronal circuits. A setup using electrodes and living nerves in a petri dish allowed them to create hierarchical networks. The patterns in the networks can be seen and simplified, and connectivity between cells can be controlled to see how the neuronal network responds to various chemicals and conditions. [52]

Three months later, others had shown that different individuals' brains use the same, common neural code to recognize complex visual images. Their study demonstrated that objects are similarly represented across different brains, allowing for reliable classification of one person's brain activity based on another's, and the team developed a new method called hyperalignment to classify this common code and the parameters that transform an individual's brain activity patterns into the code. [53]

The parameters are a set of numbers that act like a combination that unlocks that individual's brain's code, allowing activity patterns in that person's brain to be decoded – specifying the visual images that evoked those patterns -- by comparing them to patterns in other people's brains. [53]

Participants in this study watched the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark while their patterns of brain activity were measured using fMRI. In two separate experiments, they viewed still images of seven categories of faces and objects, or six animal species. Analysis of the brain activity patterns evoked by the movie produced the common code. Once the brain patterns were in the common code, including responses that were not evoked by the movie, distinct patterns were detected that were common across individuals and specific for fine distinctions. [54]

The unconscious isn't reading its own patterns in the same way computers enable us to consciously do; it simply associates images with patterns (concepts). Nor does it label concepts on the inner model in words as we have ours in the diagram above. It doesn't even see things like matter and energy, space and time, dog and monkey as individual items but as agents within a continuum. The continuum of energy/matter gives rise to the objects and events in the continuum of spacetime; that's its 'big picture', simply because that IS the big picture.

The major part of our intelligence's personal experience of reality from the beginning of time is in fact interaction with itself. The unconscious has a sense of direction and knows which parts of the brain receive or send information. Imagination builds a symmetrical construct with the spacetime continuum on one side, matter and energy on the other, and their interactions taking place in the middle not just because that's how the brain is built but because that's how the mind processes stuff.

To the unconscious, spacetime issues 'belong' at the right hand side of the model because that is where all memories and awareness of such issues 'come from' in its reality. [55]

 

Unconscious Programs

 

Big fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
and so, ad infinitum.

"The Siphonaptera"

 

Concept-Sets

'A continuum' is one of our unconscious concept-sets. Concept-sets are not merely one concept represented by one 'bit' of code, but a set of associated concepts that the unconscious 'expects' to occur together; wherever you find a continuum, for example, the unconscious will expect to find a continuous extent, series, set, or whole. These are the details, some or all of which it predicts will occur together with the concept 'continuum'; telling the system something like, "concepts for properties x and y are usually associated with concept z".

This entire set of concepts is packed together inside N3's image for 'continuum', and that's a concept set. A concept-set is a 'byte' of information, a compressed image representing up to six 'details' concepts nested inside a 'basic' concept. This is how memory expands fractally; every concept may have nested sets of concepts compressed inside it.

This memory trick of packing details inside details reflects the pattern of infinite regress that is manifest when we zoom in on any fractal image, but here we are dealing with qualities of meaning and on each new level, meaning is added with every new layer of details. To keep space-allocation optimal, when memory is unused the 'details' sets least often accessed are the first to be deconstructed for recycling and with the removal of every 'bit' some resolution is lost. This is why, in memory loss through non-use, it is ordinarily the case that the fine details are likely to fade before the overall impressions do (in fact if both are being lost simultaneously it is a sign of certain neurodegenerative diseases rather than non-use).

Concept-sets (C sets) are 'bytes' that occur in all memory, and ordinarily they associate with one core concept. For example the concept 'red' associates with the C set 'color' which is mainly processed in N3 and associated with the core concept, 'density'.

However, 'continuum' is an example of a core-concept-set (CC set). These encode properties, principles or processes of reality, and they associate with all core concepts.

For example, 'Continuum' can be related to the core concept 'matter' if one considers a continuum of agents from which to choose one, or with 'space' where some images unconsciously associated with it are temperature gauges, number lines, the electromagnetic spectrum and measuring sticks (they are associated with it because we measure events on a continuum with all these systems and we treat them as a 'background' measure against which events occur). Spacetime itself is a continuum, and so is matter/energy.

'Polarity' is another CC set we are unconsciously familiar with, for example we can see how it relates to 'matter' (thin object/wide object), 'space' (big place/ small place, north pole/ south pole) 'time' (daytime/ night time, dark season/ light season, cold time/ warm time), and so on.

Just as the appearance of an object or the frequency of a sound or smell or the development of an organism conforms to a particular concept-pattern, a series of events can conform to a single concept-pattern that now contains an inner 'nested' set of concepts that are also events.

The nested set of associations in the CC set for 'polarity' carries the implicate (unconscious) information: "where x occurs, y will probably occur, and they are reasonably likely to have two opposite, complementary or contrasting principles or tendencies".

Notice terms such as 'probably' and 'reasonably likely'. The unconscious mind is an imagination-based prediction engine and thinks in terms of probabilities rather than absolutes. 'Probably' sounds vague, but intelligence knows that reality always holds the potential to be unpredictable, as it has learned through aeons of experience, and it is not inaccurate in its vaguery; it is thinking like the scientist who admits, "We can never prove anything with 100% certainty because somewhere in the universe there may be exceptions we don't yet know about." Nor is unconscious computation mere guesswork; the prediction of probabilities relies on hard figures from both experience and input data to reliably perceive and remember, as well as forecast events reliably as 'probable'. It is simply aware of its own limitations in the real world.

 

Cycles and Spirals

A repeating cycle is another CC set, images associated with this include the circular arrow. A repeating cycle or spiral of events is another process that conforms to a specific concept-set of associated bits, events making up a 'bigger event'. Regardless of what words or symbols we use to represent it, we all have an inner unconscious concept of what a repetitive cycle IS. We understand the pattern of a repeating course of events, and we can also abstract that same concept to be used in any time scale, place or construct with our imagination.

For example, we can understand that day/night is a repetitive cycle, that life itself is a repetitive cycle, that learning or doing certain tasks involves a repetitive cycle of movements, and so on. We recognize the repetitive cycle concept as a basic 'course of events' behind a lot of different things, regardless of their individual details, the mind can see they have this one thing in common and has abstracted it.


Balance

'Balance' is another CC set the mind is accustomed to (as well as courses of events that enable it to be achieved), because right from day 1 of our existence the unconscious brain has been using neural feedback and hormones to learn how to affect internal homeostasis, maintaining a balanced dynamic equilibrium of temperature, respiration, digestion etc.

Later (when developing N2) the mind abstracts and applies the same concept to achieving the equilibrium of balance in behavioral terms of locomotion (ie, not falling over when we're walking). The mind can abstract the ideas of balance as a state and modulation as a process as concepts in their own right at this stage, and when developing N3 will be using them to maintain emotional balance via exactly the same means (modulation of neurotransmitters & hormones). The details (WHAT neurotransmitters/hormones) will vary depending on the application, but the basics (procedures or 'courses of events' that can lead to balance); the underlying concept we have grasped unconsciously, remains the same.

Feedback from internal chemistry is also input to N3 –we can often forget this- and it’s treated just the same as any other input. The concept of balance has been 'abstracted' but is still just as effective as it ever was.

 

CC sets are used in the mind's programs, abstracting a 'course of events' into a process. For example the CC set that recognizes 'repetitive cycle' can be turned around by imagination to 'command' the mind to start a repetitive cycle of processing on details x and y.

The same processes, properties and principles that apply to reality apply equally to the mind itself, and the unconscious recognizes that the same patterns we perceive out in the world apply also to ourselves; for example 'polarity' applies to our emotions (happy/sad), our behaviors (sleep/wake), our energy levels (tired/energetic), our appetites (hungry/satiated), our state of wellness (ill/healthy) and our state of being (dead/alive.)


Parts of a Whole

Once the unconscious has grasped a sufficient critical mass of CC sets and the associations within them, it is able to associate them together as parts of more complex processes. The 'parts of a whole' CC set is the idea that big things are 'probably' made up of smaller things all interacting together.

CC sets are amalgamates of bits of code, just like computer programs are amalgamates of bits of code. CC sets presented in particular orders determine most of an unconscious program's structure, and its structure determines what functions it will able to carry out.

Our entire experience of the world is made up of patterns and sequences. They are everywhere; dark time becomes light time, cold season becomes hot season, creatures migrate across vast distances in ever-different formations. Landscapes are constantly in perpetual change. Intelligence needed a way to make sense of these natural patterns.

Humans are extraordinarily good pattern-detectors; so much so that we happily see them even when they are not really there (the reason a lot of coincidences can cause a lot of superstitions). When they really are there, we are fast to detect them.

 

Here's a simple pattern of events, seen in cave-dweller terms:

One warm time, few green caterpillars, lots of birds. No food for birds, many birds starve.

Next warm time, few birds, lots of green caterpillars. Birds eat many caterpillars.

Next warm time, few green caterpillars, lots of birds. No food for birds, many birds starve.

 

After a critical mass of these associations, after sleeping on it N3 can grasp the 'deja vu' and rewrite this as:

Warm time A = bird time / Warm time B = caterpillar time / ... Repeats!

 

N3 has no words, so it thinks out all this in image concepts. It has no idea that this is referred to by science as two populations in an ecological dynamic equilibrium. But it does recognize the pattern of events "A...B...A...etc." as one that occurs in many other circumstances; as a little 'program' of repeating concepts that has multiple applications.

Knowing this pattern enables prediction of so much more than what food will be available when, and the 'bird/caterpillar program' becomes a concept associated with forward planning, assessment of new territories, the weather, harvests, animal habits, conception, migration, the life cycle, calendars, and so on.

Research has demonstrated that individuals register information about the frequency of events automatically (i.e., outside of conscious awareness and without engaging conscious information processing resources). Moreover, perceivers do this unintentionally, truly "automatically," regardless of the instructions they receive, and regardless of the information processing goals they have. [56]

The ability to unconsciously and relatively accurately tally the frequency of events appears to have little or no relation to the individual's age, education, intelligence, or personality, because it represents one of the fundamental building blocks of human orientation in the environment and possibly the acquisition of procedural knowledge and experience in general. [57]

The most basic concepts of mathematics; space and quantity, are hardwired into our brains as part of that 'body of knowledge' programmed by evolutionary experience. Even simple animals have a sense of distance and number, assessing when their group is outnumbered or overcrowded, deciding when to fight or run, calculating when prey is within striking distance.

Having a grasp of these basic concepts was the difference between survival and extinction, life and death, and all animals have them. But in humans intelligence takes these basics and is able to start to fill in the details. We have evolved to spot patterns, to make connections, to count, to record the seasons as relevant to our lives, and to order by categorization the world around us. This is how not just science and mathematics have emerged; it is how intelligence in our species has emerged. [61]


Agents, Contexts, Interactions

This is a default program that applies to the processing of all events; they are seen in terms of association of agents (individual items; N1), with contexts (background and circumstances, N2), and interactions (the behavior of agents within the context, N3).

All agents and contexts are classified as such according to their past associations, predicted likely associations, and current associations in the given instant. Contexts can be nested and something that is an agent in one set of associations can be a context in others, for example in a concrete material context, a book is an agent and a library is a context in relation to that agent, and an interaction is someone moving the book. Yet words in the book are agents in the context of the book, a reader is an agent in the same context, and an interaction is a reader scanning the words. The unconscious mind sees no problem with a context beng an agent in another context either. It knows about relativity, and that all things both perceive and are directed via their current form, context and interactions.

In exactly the same way in the abstract context of symbols, our understanding of language is contextual. The same word can have a completely different meaning in a different context, and swapping the context by implication makes for much comedic innuendo and many boobs.

This program itself ('agents-contexts-interactions') forms a context for ALL processing. Different networks are primed to process different types of agents, contexts and interactions, allocated by their associations with core concepts, both on concrete and abstract levels.

 

COMP VC

This is an unconscious program you should already recognize; the one we use for all successful learning and memory. In fact it's the program for successful emergence of intelligence overall, abstracted into our personal developmental context.

If we run this program, intelligence emergence MUST take place. If we run it on a platform that can accommodate a developing intelligence, biological or otherwise, and nothing gets in its way, then intelligence has no choice but to emerge, just as surely as if you mix sodium and chlorine in the same context you'll get table salt emerging every single time.

Here is the 'pattern of events' that make up COMP VC, broken down into simple processes:

 

  1. "Many into one, part 1" (Gather together many similar agents associated by similar type.)
  2. "One into many, part 1" (Spread similar agents out into different contexts.)
  3. "Adaptation, part 1" (Allow agents to interact with and adapt themselves to their context's needs.)
  4. "Many into one, part 2" (Gather together many different agents associated by similar type, synchronize and synthesize them into one construct.)
  5. "One into many, part 2" (Spread similar agents out into different contexts, analyze them and individualize them for many contexts.)
  6. "Adaptation, part 2" (Allow agents to interact with and adapt their contexts to their own needs.)

 

This is not a repeating cycle, but a spiral of events. We can recognize this same pattern of events in many varied contexts; for examples the memory cycle, the learning cycle, and (below) the evolution of life:

 

  1. Biogenesis (Gather together many similar agents organized by type.) (single cells)
  2. Differentiation/morphogenesis (Spread apart similar agents into different contexts.)
  3. Adaptation (Allow agents to interact with and adapt to their context's needs, including each other.) (Once upon a time, an ameba ate a bacterium and multicellular life was born).
  4. Co-evolution/cooperation (Gather together many different agents organized by type, synchronize and synthesize them into one construct.) (symbiosis).
  5. Speciation/variation (Spread agents out into different contexts, analyze them and individualize them for many contexts.)
  6. Interactive Ecology (Allow agents to interact with and adapt their contexts to their own needs, including each other.)

 

This program is a process that applies to all things that develop and grow, not just biological things. Each stage describes a concept that can be abstracted into multiple contexts; for example stage 4 could describe building a house or getting an orchestra together. Stage 5 could describe adding individual rooms to the house or booking the orchestra to play in different contexts such as movie music, recordings and live concerts.

In stage six you'd let the occupants decorate their own rooms and the orchestra would have grown good enough to start deciding where it wanted to play next instead of relying on offers.

 


Goldilocks

Sensory input is embodied in a spectrum (a continuum) that exhibits both polarity and balance, in that we know what it's like to experience 'too much' (sensory overload) versus 'not enough' (sensory deprivation) and also 'just right'. Assessing and maintaining equilibrium is the underlying concept, fairly simple as there are only these three possibilities to choose from.

Our physical, intimate and immediate knowledge of the real world (experience) is not just what enables us to walk and learn to balance, it is what enables us to understand the pattern of changes in ourselves that enables 'balance' to be achieved.

By viewing the concepts of 'too much' or 'too little', 'too close' or 'too far', as having existence as 'things' in their own right, and then applying those concepts abstractly to other circumstances, the unconscious has learned how the same pattern; Too Much/Just Right/Not Enough; is interwoven throughout all sensory and behavioral life experience. Materials are too heavy to lift or too light for protection, food is either too fast to catch or to slow to waste time waiting for, stuff is either too big to fit in your bag or not big enough to feed seven. The weather can be either too cold or too hot to be out comfortably in.

Releasing certain molecules at a certain time requires the same pattern of behavior (the same 'program' for digesting food in the stomach, setting up a specific brain chemistry, or setting up a specific body chemistry such as priming an organism's muscles to run or preparing it for sex.) If a chemical soup (which neurotransmission essentially establishes) does not receive or respond to a certain amount of added input chemical, nothing changes. Cells will not fire, and on the behavioral level this is 'not enough' to alter the mood or affect motivation.

If a chemical soup responds to an added chemical with a strong reaction that throws the system out of balance, this is 'too much'. Emotional balance means getting it 'just right'.

The "Goldilocks" program applies to us personally in all sorts of walks of life, such as not eating too much or too little, not moving too fast or too slow, not getting too tired or too energetic, not pulling/pushing too hard or inadequately, not getting too stressed out or too bored, not having your bed too big or too small, your porridge too hot or too cold. The way to thrive is to get it all 'just right'; then we 'all live happily ever after'.

To the body and senses, the goldilocks pattern applies to optimal sensory load. In terms of physical body sensation, optimal sensory load gives rise to sensual (NOT sexual) pleasure, and the body feels comfortable. With either too much (sensory overload) or not enough (sensory deprivation), it feels pain.

Comfortable operating conditions and systems damage-detection (pain) are not emotions; they are physical experiences; feedback for us to tell if all is in balance. Why are these physical experiences synchronized with mental experiences such as Pleasure and distress? Simple single-celled animals automatically move into the green zone by simple reflex behavior, no thought or emotion required, but that limits them when an unpleasant stimulus cannot be avoided; they're unable to adapt and must just keep running on automatic, futilely trying to get away or to attack the intruder, or starving to death failing to recognise food that doesn't move.

All creatures KNOW the program for finding balance unconsciously, as the saying goes, 'balls to bones'. We embody it, and we also 'know' that our green zone boundaries expand with experience and growth (a baby creature cannot lift as much as a large one) and that they vary between individuals (some smaller creatures can lift more than some larger creatures).

Long before we're old enough to have heard the story of Goldilocks, we have unconsciously mastered the method of decision-making metaphorized in it. Infants ignore information that is too simple or too complex, focusing instead on situations that are "just right".

This has even been named 'the goldilocks effect' by the research team that discovered it. [62] Instead of novelty or familiarity per se, the research shows that even tiny babies seek out situations with just the right amount of surprise or complexity. We are programmed to look for the optimal input, to lose interest when input becomes too predictable , or when the pattern seems too random and unpredictable to make sense yet. The unconscious 'knows' exactly what sort of input currently suits us best, in real time.

The "Goldilocks" attention pattern supports other theories of adult learning. At every age natural learners direct their attention to material that contains just the right amount of challenge for their current learning state, because this optimal complexity triggers the right amount of memory weighting for the fastest learning as well as stimulation and the motivation to continue. [62]

Understanding the unconscious mind and doing any serious work with it requires understanding of these basic programs and their vital importance to it, because (a) they are the playbook of 'game rules' it lives by and (b) they are very powerful NH tools. We'll be exploring them further in the next tutorial.


Translating the Code

Imagination uses N3's graphic format as a two-way communication medium between the unconscious model and the conscious mind. It functions like a universal translator through which material and processes in the unconscious mind can be understood by the whole brain and come into conscious awareness.

And vice versa -the conscious mind can also use the graphic medium of patterns to communicate with the unconscious mind. This is how cognitive behavioral therapy and co-counseling work -the conscious mind sends information about whatever issue it wants to address, through N3 to the unconscious. When it hears things in words, the unconscious finds the patterns that sensibly associate with them. (Remember, 'sensibly' means 'according to the senses'). When we habitually follow good patterns of thought, the network-wiring must follow. Surround a system with congruity, and it will become more like whatever it is surrounded by.

And everything makes sense.

 

All N3 produces is its concept-related graphics, but for each network there is automatically a different 'key' for translating the code, because each network holds its own particular associations with a given image in its own format.

Every network provides a different 'context' for data (agents) to be assessed against and processed in. For examples, in N5 a given concept image will be associated with particular formal words, in N4 the same image will be associated with metaphor and procedures, in N3 it will be associated with pictures or 'movie clips' that prompt the release of transmitters associated with particular emotions, and in N2 and N1 the same concept image will be associated with muscular changes that trigger certain movements, behaviors and facial expressions, via the sensory/motor cortices.

It becomes more obvious how all this can happen at once when we know that N3 monitors and coordinates all these processes into one smooth real time input (perception), and N6 monitors and coordinates all these processes into one smooth real time output (interaction). We see how the whole brain can be thus involved on every level of every response and every interaction through modular processes running in parallel.

The concept of having a multiplicity of things all associated via the same code is not strange to us -in our high-tech lives we associate patterns with meaning like this all the time. We use bar codes and other patterns to represent all sorts of varied information including the triggering of automatic processes, and we are long-used to categorizing things using numeric or alphabetic representations (not to mention words). All of these systems use 'agents' (individual items with points of similarity) and 'a context' (the database), where 'interactions' are operations such as additions, removals, replications, new categories and so on.

A series of 'chinese rooms' can demonstrate the process: Every room gets the same picture, and each room has the same instructions: "IF this pattern arrives as input, THEN do x". But in every room the instruction for 'x' is different. In N3 x might mean, 'make these proteins' -let's say they turn out to be dopamine, noradrenaline and oxytocin. In N1 x means 'increase heart rate and respiration', in N2 x means 'kiss this person'. In N4 x means 'send procedural memories of sexual procedure experience to N3 cache,' in N5 x means thinking, 'Wow you're sexy!' and possibly 'have I got any condoms?' already; and N6 coordinates all this internal and external thought and behavior and feeling into one smooth well-timed flow of congruous interaction. And everything makes sense.


Basics are More Important than Details

The unconscious knows that programs (the underlying operations) of what is going on are much more important than details (the particular data being processed); and their relationships are always more important to our wellbeing than the details they apply to, because they apply to the whole of life.

Some programs are repetitions, some are polar shifts, some run in cycles dictated by time or circumstances, some lead specifically in one direction, others cause multiple changes. Some courses of events are action-reactions, some are interactions in dynamic equilibrium. We make congruous associations: pendulums swing, water going down holes moves in spirals, most things that are not birds fall downwards when you drop them and most things that are birds fly south in the cold time, just after the buffalo go.

These patterns are the programs of reality; the procedures that take place in all human lives and in everything around us that have been experienced by humanity since humanity began. They are viewed by N4 as the 'plots' of life just like the plots of stories.

If we know the programs of reality, know how they unfold, and can match our current circumstances up with them, we can predict a good course and navigate through changes regardless of any cultural or environmental or circumstantial details, we can predict sensible interactions (what programs we should run next) because we 'know how the pattern goes'.

It's like being an actor watching a movie with a view to joining in as a character with scripts we already know the gist of. With practice and experience, the unconscious quickly finds which of our own interaction programs (scripts) for the best predicted outcome matches up best with the movie it perceives is currently running in reality, and runs it, knowing that it's highly likely to succeed because all programs have to respond to interactive programs; it's literally their nature.

A lot of unconscious processing strategy concerns energy-conservation. Conscious thought is way more power-hungry than unconscious thought. So one of the first moves of the unconscious for associating information is to know what programs (plots) are already running and identify incoming percepts in the context of their associated programs.

Looking at the 'big picture' (the context, in our analogy the plot of the movie) before looking at all the individual agents and items of the code (actors and props) involved makes good sense and prevents wasting energy. Details can be held in RAM for as long as is necessary so we can always go back and look at more details, or leave them for the conscious mind to catch up with.

Obviously the most important programs to begin with are those dedicated to identifying dangers or benefits, and those that achieve balance and keep us in the green zone (ensuring we are following up the opportunity for every available benefit). Danger and benefit identification are about plain survival, but knowing how to maintain healthy balance is the key to thriving, so 'goldilocks' is a major player, as is knowing 'where you are' in COMP VC.

The mind doesn't usually get hit by something totally new all the time, so most of the time it is already aware of 'what program is running' because of where we are now and what it is currently doing. If the unconscious fails to recognize how an item fits in to a program, it can request more details on the fly and orient the external sensors and attention to get them (we call this 'paying attention') very fast. So most input occurs during 'known' circumstances and falls within a range of probability that the unconscious more or less 'expects'.

To encourage congruity, all we have to do is look at these basics; the program patterns in our lives. The details do not matter; if the basics are congruous then the rest must of necessity follow. We'll be focusing specifically on this in the next tutorial.

 

 

DO IT NOW

 

Rules into Commands

Which of these 'golden rules' do you suppose could be used as unconscious program commands? What might the commands be?

 

rules

possible commands

If the brain doesn’t get what it needs, the mind won’t do what you want.

 

Behave as though it’s happening, and the brain will think it’s happening.

 

You become more like whatever you are surrounded by

 

Cells that fire together, wire together

 

Know yourself

 

Always do things in the right order.

 

 

Answers at end of tutorial

 

 Emotional Stability

 

Remember to avoid this common misunderstanding: Emotional stability is NOT about suppressing emotion. It is about enabling emotion to function healthily in a healthy mind. There is nothing wrong with intelligent healthy uncertainty –that’s how we avoid being conned into giving our bank details to foreign princesses.

There is nothing wrong with being alarmed in alarming circumstances, or concerned over a loved one’s wellbeing. There is nothing wrong with grief or sadness in times of loss, or defending yourself powerfully when offended or attacked.

There is nothing wrong with lust between sexually attracted persons, or deep love and joy between those who bond. These are natural healthy emotions working for our benefit in natural events of human life, important for humankind’s wellbeing throughout our evolution.

But anxiety and sentiment are not. All they can do is damage your brain, and if you really want to have free will and a good quality (and length) of life experience, they must go.

Neither is emotional balance about suppressing sentiment. First and foremost it is about regularly practising healthy emotion and getting our brains used to those habits. Once we've got a good example to compare against, we will become more adept at spotting sentiment, knowing which healthy emotion it is hijacking, and invoking that healthy emotion to take over the usurped network/s.

Never focus on the problem in NH; always focus on the solution. The solution here lies in more and more healthy emotional behavior, and often, the only other thing people have to do to switch from sentiment to emotion is reduce anxiety. Biology, given the chance to function as it should, usually takes the opportunity.

Both the healthy emotions and the unhealthy sentiments use gene transcription to control brain and body chemistry. This is one way NH can adjust emotional health –by using epigenetics to control expression of the genome. This is not necessarily a high-tech process. The simplest method is via Input Control.

Input control & the relaxation response remove anxiety triggers for a while until we get our chemistry in balance. This is NOT avoiding problems; it is solving them. If we are too drunk to think properly, we must avoid alcohol for a while, and if we are too anxious to think properly, we must avoid anxiety for a while.

Once we have made the switch, we can face higher stressors without them affecting us; we are able to adapt to deal with circumstances without getting anxious. This is a permanent change if we do it right, because it’s how biology designed us to be. We will literally never have to feel anxious again, and we will discover a world of wonderful emotion that greatly enhances our life experience. When we’ve experienced that heady freedom, we'll wonder why we were ever stuck in anxiety, and realize how much we were missing out.

Input control is not “avoiding reality”. In fact, we are avoiding artifice and stepping INTO reality. Reality is not society. Reality is how biology works, how your brain works and how the REAL world works (not society’s ‘ideal world’).

Not knowing what reality IS can really hold us back, and if we’re very indoctrinated when we first start, it can take a long time for us to understand that society is not the real world. Societies come and go; reality will be around for as long as the universe exists. And our mind is designed to work with reality, because intelligence can only associate with what is real. We can only experience the real world when we are anxiety-free, because we can’t perceive anything properly when we are not.

After around 4 billion years of working out the best moves for adaptation and development, we believe biology probably knows what it’s doing, and that sentiment has arisen in our species only where biology has been thwarted rather than heeded in the development of intelligence.

If we try to do things in the wrong order (ie, face the stressors before we have developed the tools to deal with them) we will only end up with a dysfunctional system stuck in a mess it doesn't have the ability to solve, and nowhere to go to develop those tools. In JCP's terms, keeping a developing mind free from anxiety is not an issue of sweet sentiment, it is the issue of the development of intelligence itself; in fact it's only because we got hassle back in the past that we failed to develop those tools first time round! [80]

 

Researchers have seen exactly the same intrusion of sentiment-based behavior and mental disturbance in ‘domesticated’ animals whose biology has been similarly interfered with -and incidentally the same propensity to become addicted to drugs and the same related physical & mental illnesses.

 

 


 

 

 

NHA Guide to Methods & Technology

 

Because processing incorporates feedback, in NH terms the links between sensorimotor neurotransmission, behavior and emotion gives us another of those lovely 'multidependent' systems that can be hacked at various points; for example:

  • Control neurotransmission (chemistry) and you modulate emotion and behavior.
  • Control behavior and you modulate neurotransmission and emotion.
  • Control emotion and you modulate neurotransmission and behavior.

 

Bear this in mind when selecting your methods, because one of the three will almost certainly be easier for you personally.


For Emotional Stability & Congruous Association

In order to ensure congruous association, it helps if the conscious mind and the unconscious mind can communicate with each other quickly and well. Congruity of association is important for emotional stability as well as many other major intelligence factors, so if we are 'in two minds' with the front end striving to be society's ideal and the rear end trying to follow biological intent and entelechy, it's a priority to improve communication between networks and build up the physical connections between them. We cannot expect congruity from any system if parts of it cannot 'talk to' each other.

There are two 'ways in' for building up the communication highways that enable strong conscious awareness of unconscious content (and intent); Bottom-up, and Top-down. Bottom-up methods consist of adapting conscious awareness to be more aware of unconscious content (adapt yourself to suit the context, for example hypnosis or chemicals). Top-down methods consist of adapting unconscious knowledge to be more easily understood by the conscious mind (adapt the context to suit yourself, for example Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or input control). You should already know enough to be aware that fastest results come from doing both regularly.

Main Bottom-up methods and some Top-down methods for emotional stability and congruous association are discussed here. More Top-down methods will be discussed in the next tutorial.


Lifestyle & Behavioral

Garbage In = Garbage Out

In your input control you should by now have considered all of the following: diet, sleep, exercise, environment, chemicals, media, your own thoughts, and the company you keep. Here are some important points to remember:

Nobody is going to achieve emotional stability if their blood sugar levels are up and down like a hookers knickers. There may come a point where you have to choose between sugar and sanity. If this happens, remember that sugar can be slowly replaced with honey, sanity cannot. [

There is some promising research on the correlation between healthy gut flora and emotional stability [86]

Waking up to a rush of cortisol every morning due to an alarm clock is not good for emotional stability. The very name of the device gives its effects away!

Short bursts of intense exercise are better for the brain and body than long periods of working out. [87]

 

Meditation

Is well known for its effects on emotional stability and ability to initiate the relaxation response. However, as always everyone is different and beginning long periods of meditation from an anxious state of mind is probably a bad idea. Simple relaxation exercises like yoga or tai chi or simple activities such as gardening are very helpful to some.

 

Recent (2012) meditation research has focused on creating new techniques mixing meditation and other methods to reduce destructive sentiments while improving social and emotional behavior.

For example, researchers developed a 42-hour, eight-week training program that provided good results, integrating secular meditation practices with techniques learned from the scientific study of emotion. It incorporated three categories of meditative practice:

1. Concentration practices involving sustained, focused attention on a specific mental or sensory experience

2. Mindfulness practices involving the close examination of one's body and feelings

3. Directive practices designed to promote empathy and compassion toward others.

 

Students learned to better understand the relationship between emotion and cognition, and to better recognize emotions in others and their own emotional patterns so they could better resolve problems in relationships. In addition, depressed mood levels dropped by more than half. In a follow-up assessment five months later, many of the positive changes remained. [88]

Meditation has also been discovered to improve awareness of subliminal input (often thus rendering it less powerful) [89]

 

Mindfulness

Other studies have examined mindfulness, aka "integrative body-mind training (IBMT)" and its effects; researchers report improved mood changes coinciding with (measurable) increased axonal density -- more brain-signaling connections -- and an expansion of myelin, the protective fatty tissue that surrounds the axons, in the brain's anterior cingulate region (N6), after one month of regular practice. Activity between N6 and N3 facilitates self-regulation and emotional coordination.

These changes are the same ones found in our original emotional development, and may indicate the recommencement of development. [90]

 

Exercise Your Free Will

Remember the benefits of natural surroundings as input, and use your knowledge both in where you go and how you decorate your surroundings. Just being outdoors in nature changes our neurochemistry.

Recreation can and should be fun, but remember that if we are anxious some things, for example alcohol, stimulants, sugar and psychedelics, as well as many chemicals in processed foods, can exacerbate unhealthy sentiment. Learn what substances make you feel calm and what substances make you excited. Don't use mood-enhancers when in bad moods! And don't use psychedelics to achieve 'altered states' (or for any serious NH such as memory-adjustment), if you know you are or think you may be emotionally unstable. Have patience; all things change with time.

You are the captain. You have the power to surround yourself with textures and colors and smells and objects that inspire you and augment your abilities, or slow you down and dull them. Which will you choose? You have the power to give your attention to media that tell you the truth about reality, or that feed you the usual bullshit. Which will you choose? You have the power to watch movies and programs with good role models, and listen to music that inspires healthy emotion and augments your abilities, or you can watch stuff and listen to stuff that depresses you and produces harmful sentiment. Which will you choose? You have the power to interact with people who inspire you and augment your abilities, or those who seem to drain you, make you feel tired and anxious. Which will you choose?

 

Sound and Vision

Humans, and many non-human animals, produce and respond to harsh, unpredictable, nonlinear sounds when alarmed. Nonlinearities in music and soundtracks can be simulated through the use of technological manipulations. Recent work found that film soundtracks from different genres differentially contain such sounds and they affect both our emotional arousal and our mood. When visuals are added, as in a movie, their influence changes our arousal levels; in other words they become context-dependent. [91]

This is media hacking unconscious mind, and changing it. We think its nicer if you're in control of what's changing, and what its changing into. It's your mind. Take control.

 

Modeling

Imagination has evolved to augment our ability to interact with reality via prediction and memory. With self-control the mind has the power to create its own input -to imagine things on the inside of the model (implicately)- and unconsciously intelligence will start working out how to reproduce them (or the closest thing it can find to them) in reality (explicately). Items in our imagination prompt the mind to make things 'become more like' whatever it believes we are surrounded by.

This tendency is already taken advantage of by 'mainstream' NH. For example, athletes commonly use images these days to mentally rehearse how they want to perform by picturing themselves successfully completing their competition. A tennis player may see a tennis ball striking the racket at just the right spot, at just the perfect moment in the swing. Studies show that this form of imaging as input improves performance.

With balanced rear nets, when we know enough to know what we are doing, control of self and input can develop several powerful abilities, but we leave exercises for this until intermediate level because with an uncontrolled or unaware mind, all the unconscious gets for modeling is whatever input is thrust upon it (and the unconscious will go right ahead and try to reproduce it regardless).

You will find exercises for practising healthy emotion via modeling later in this tutorial.

 

Chemistry

The useful thing about neurotransmitters (and hacking them) is: neurotransmitters do everything. They can whizz around the brain as ‘flying programs’ and yet behave in finely-tuned accurate ways because they can only be ‘read’ by a receptor of the correct type for their molecular pattern.

They perform different functions in different networks, and different functions in the same network.

The cellular level is susceptible to hacking because cells don’t have free will and they don’t have cognition. They can’t decide: “Oh, bugger it, I’m not going to respond to these signals right now, because there’s nothing exciting REALLY going on out there; I’m only getting these signals because this body has taken some amphetamines”. Cells are totally controlled by their environment. We can’t ‘change their minds’ unless we change their environment. We can 'fake the signals' and alter a cell’s belief about what it perceives, which is why artificial drugs that fit natural receptors work so well; we can change cells’ environments, and consequently their behavior, and consequently ours. That's what hacking with chemistry is largely about.

Various chemicals can help us in achieving emotional stability, but the complexity we face is that everyone is different and we need to know how they affect us personally rather than look at how they affect others.

For example if we personally are short of NE, small amounts of alcohol or stimulants can help us achieve emotional stability by increasing confidence to 'just right'. But if we are not, the addition of more NE may exacerbate arrogance. If we are short of ACh, small amounts of tobacco and/or marijuana may help creative focus and reduce distractions, but if we are not, large amounts may put us at risk of OCD.

This is where 'knowing yourself' really comes into NH, because it gives you the power to tailor your own nootropics to your own specific needs, just as you can tailor your own space to your own specific needs.

Being closely aware of your own responses and your own neurology cannot be taught, no matter how many tutorials we do or who else assesses us, although it can be helped by self assessment. It is an ability that can only be built up by practice at actually doing it; only by knowing really well which are our weak and strong networks and how our systems currently respond to environmental and inner changes can we navigate successfully with chemistry to remain in the green zone.

NOT knowing yourself can lead to two unpleasant "Jekyll and Hyde" effects, the first type occurs where someone is perfectly fine as long as they don't do 'x' (for 'x' read anything from drinking soda to mainlining heroin to watching horror movies) but it is clear that they have no idea how 'x' really affects their state of mind (because 'x' mucks up their awareness, perception and memory as well as their neurochemistry.)

The second way "Jekyll and Hyde" can happen is when some neurochemical drops below 'expected' levels, and this often happens when people try to give up habits and don't replace them with anything healthier. In this case, someone is absolutely fine as long as they continue to do 'y' (for 'y' read anything from Prozac to marijuana to going out to work). We also see this effect when someone stops taking antipsychotics because they 'feel better now', and don't notice their behavior becoming ever-more bizarre.

Things that keep us in or throw us out of balance are important to know about, and their effects on us are all part of 'knowing ourselves'. So we also need to know about addiction, and how it applies in our lives.

Dictionary definitions of addiction are usually as follows: "the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma."

By this definition, one could legitimately say that we are all addicted to breathing oxygen, so let's first acknowledge this -being addicted to healthy habits of thought and behavior is a pretty good thing, and conscious reason has no incongruity with conscious experience in agreeing that we have evolved with a built-in need for some things such as air, food and water, complete with full body awareness of how long we can go without them and their 'goldilocks zone'; i.e., what happens when we get too much or not enough of them. This sort of awareness is automatic and controls things such as the 'dive reflex' and feedback about hydration, hunger and temperature.

It's a different story with introduced chemicals, including foods, and we have to allow our brain/body systems to 'learn' where the goldilocks zone lies for us personally by trial and error (ideally from only healthy choices, although most of us have experienced this sort of experimentation with alcohol in our youth.)

Our individual responses to chemistry are as varied as our individual personalities, because the thing most chemicals target is the same thing that modulates personality -neurotransmitters. We all need healthy neurotransmission to achieve emotional stability and some of us find that if genetics or experience have resulted in our being one or two short of a six pack, replacement therapy works beautifully. Obviously, stimulating the brain to produce its own healthy chemistry is the overall aim, but temporary replacement with a substitute can trigger this process, as many have found with SSRIs, growth hormone and oxytocin. Once networks are exposed to a chemical on a regular basis, they often start building more receptors for that chemical.

So if you are on anything prescribed long-term and concerned about addiction, especially if it is anything with harmful side effects, you should make sure to get blood testing and reviews so that you can alter the dosage if new receptors have formed, or consider switching between different medications from time to time to eliminate 'accumulative' effects, one of which may be addiction.

The most dangerous kind of addiction, and the sort that can do us most harm, is the kind that is both harmful and that we don't know we have, and/or that anxiety will make us deny we have.

The most common examples of harmful 'unknown' addictions are sugar, TV, noise, money, sleeping pills, constant company, and material possessions. This should enable us to see that 'addiction' is not a simple concept. It can consist of merely compulsive automatic habits (good or bad), or physical dependencies (good or bad) due to chemical states or changes in our bodies and minds. All we seek to make you aware of here is that addiction in itself is not a problem -it is what we are addicted TO, and WHY, that needs to be looked at and fully understood in terms of knowing ourselves.

Weaker networks are more susceptible to addiction because the unconscious knows that they need more good input to fully develop and the addictive activity is whatever gets the network into the emotional state it feels most comfortable with. Sometimes its for anxiolytic purposes, and whatever substance or activity reduces anxiety becomes addictive. Sometimes it is for neurotransmitter-replacement, such as opiates for endorphins, SSRIs for serotonin, MDMA for oxytocin or nicotine for ACh. Such substances can become addictive because the more balanced emotional state is addictive -it's what we are supposed to be feeling!

People who know themselves this well are effectively 'avoiding Mr. Hyde', and that's fine in the short term. In the long term we must make all efforts to be self-sufficient as we can with regard to neurotransmission. If we know what we may be deficient in, we can explore the many things that may be helpful, and often gentler adjusters may be found in the plant world than in the use of hard pharmaceuticals, and we've also known of cases where people have discovered they are paying a fortune for a drug made from something that grows wild in their own yard.

Two particular substances have earned a reputation (among some) for enabling emotional stability: Lithium, and Marijuana. They have also unfortunately earned the reputation (among others) for dreadful side effects including permanently loose bowels/stomach pain on the lithium side and permanent paranoia/apathy on the marijuana side. Some of these different responses are determined by genetics, others by experience. These are two perfect examples of what not to forget -(altogether now...) "EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT!"

If you want to learn more about drugs and chemicals, visit the 'Drugs & Chemicals' section of NHA library. Chemicals for accessing unconscious awareness are discussed below.

 

Tech

There have been good reports of many technologies for improving mood and maintaining emotional stability. If you know yourself well enough to recognize triggering factors for mood swings, systems such as Sunlight therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or vitamin supplementation during sunlight depletion are very useful.

DBS is showing promise for depression and so is TMS in many instances, and brain tech like this is now in much more common use. [92] DBS is of course vulnerable to hacking, as (a) once you have the electrodes in the signal is calibrated to 'just right' by asking the patient how they feel and whether they want more stimulation (which for some people is a bit like saying, "Are you sure you wouldn't like some more free heroin, Mr. Smith, or have you had enough?" and (b) the very software that does this calibration can be hacked. There has also been slow but steady progress in DBS for other disorders, and some wonder if the potential for 'abuse' is slowing keeness to adopt. [93]

TMS is beyond availability for most unless they have lots of cash or DIY abilities, but in many cases similar (and gentler) effects can be achieved with NMS.

NMS can be good for balancing N3, particularly for calibrating the Hippo & Amy into a healthy 'green zone' between paranoia and gullibility, and has more recently been used on more frontal regions such as the left and right frontal lobes, the caudate nucleus and the septum. [94] There are good indications it helps some people with depression.

NMS uses 'modeling feedback' similar to that presented by the Proteus and other machines, but the signals are magnetic pulses rather than light/sound. Modeling feedback, where input is provided for your system to copy, is an adaptation of ordinary biofeedback (where the input is provided by your own system). Modeling feedback is used to reduce high blood pressure or irregular heart rate in similar ways -the body is given an example of healthy rhythms, and follows the example, eventually learning the habit of keeping healthy rhythms going on its own.

In the neural version, the brain is shown examples of healthy rhythms recorded from these brain parts, and copies them; slowly changing its own rhythm to match the input rhythm. Once the brain has experienced healthy balanced signaling, it has an example in memory to copy and reproduce. It becomes more like whatever it is surrounded by.

When working with NMS its important to remember that artefacts can arise such as hypnagogic imagery (more info below), out-of-body experiences, or 'visions'. Remember that everything going on has its origin in your own perception, and you'll be fine.

CES can be good for 'balancing' networks once they have achieved sufficiently similar density. The FDA has approved CES devices for anxiety, depression, and insomnia. CES's main benefit seems to lie in its production of alpha rhythms in individuals who otherwise find it very difficult to relax. Initiation of the relaxation response by this means may be behind its success as a 'normalizer' or 'balancer'. Effects may not be so great for rear loaders, but we await evidence or information on this (so if you tend to rearloading and you've tried it, let us know!) It may also be better at balancing ipsilaterally (ie, left and right hemispheres & CC) rather than front-to-back, but again evidence is lacking.

Research shows promise for the use of CES in recovery from mild brain injury and concussion [95]

To learn more about all of these consult the 'Methods & Tech' section of NHA library, and Tutorial 7.

 

Psychological & cognitive techniques; for example Co counseling, EFT, CBT, Interactional analysis, etc will be covered in Tutorial 16.

 

 


 

Getting Into the Garden

Methods of Consciously Accessing Unconscious Awareness

 

'Well, I'll eat it,' said Alice, 'and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key;

and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door;

so either way I'll get into the garden, and I don't care which happens!'

Lewis Carroll; "Alice in Wonderland"

 

Altered States

Get real about altered states, and don't associate the term with psychedelic acid parties. If you are depressed and you deliberately cheer yourself up, that's an altered state. If you have a headache and you take a pain killer, that's an altered state. If you're hungry and you eat a good meal, that's an altered state. Think like a neurohacker -pretty much everything alters our state, but we're in charge of what goes in there -so which way would we like to alter it right now?

At this stage in NH we should know what sort of things make us feel good, and be doing them regularly. Many of us want to 'alter our states' because of an underlying neurochemical deficiency, but most use 'recreational' intoxicants to allay anxiety symptoms.

If your interest in altered states is more esoteric, mystical or spiritual, or if you consider playing with your mind to be a spiritual experience, you may want to take a more multiple approach combining sound, light, odors, music, dance, artwork, an outdoor context, chemicals etc; in whatever combination works for you. Most people would be more likely, for example, to get an altered state 'experience' on LSD when walking through a beautiful forest than they would when reading a novel, but again we have to apply the rule here; 'everyone is different'.

 

Don't Take the Mind for a Ride if it Doesn't Want to Go

'Mystical' states can be achieved best with a selection of types of input control, including sensory deprivation (not recommended for beginners) , music, dance, chanting and rhythm, intoxicants, scents, light, texture, shape, color and sound, asthetics, meditation, exercise, nutrition, posture, facial expression, technology and chemicals.

There are many 'traditional' substances imbibed, drunk or snorted as part of ritual or recreational altered state experiences, and plenty of information on them on this site and all over the internet. We are not here to tell you what to choose to do or not do, but we can tell you that the starting state of mind as well as our experiential context determines a lot of our experience with psychedelics.

If you haven't done psychedelics before, its best to do it with a trusted friend, preferably one who's done it before. Nobody can tell you what to expect, because we're all different; you may experience feeling drunk, lusty, joyful, excited or profound. Lights or sounds may seem different, and synesthesia may occur (for example perceiving colors when hearing music).

Things that are normally straightforward, such as taking a bus journey, may seem extremely complicated. You may misinterpret shadows as solid objects, or experience some (or lots of) incidents or things as hysterically funny, or get the impression you can tell what others are thinking or feeling. You may feel like you did when you were seven years old, you may feel as though you are timeless, you might feel one with the universe.

Like most of us experience with alcohol, we have to get used to how things affect us individually, but being anxiety-free and emotionally balanced is the best foundation for mystical work.

There is no scientific proof that we are aware of that working with psychedelics is essential to NH or to brain development. If the mind doesn't want to go for a ride, don't make it.

There are many people who will claim, "this stuff gives you a fantastic time" about any number of substances. Usually they're trying to sell it. Remember that what one person experiences with one substance tells you nothing about what the exact same substance will do for another person. Anyone who says 'this stuff is good for everybody' is talking BS.

On the practical side, remember that many things sold on the street or on the internet are not what the seller claims they are (or even thinks they are), and some additives or substitutes have bad side effects. That's another good reason for testing something with very small amounts before making friends with it.

These are exactly the same rules that are taught in field agent survival classes with regard to wild foods: if you're not sure what something is, start with very small amounts.

It's hard not to start with a small amount of some substances because they come in very small amounts, but if you can cut it in half, or into quarters, why not do so?

Mind explorations work best if you have something fun to do during the experience. If you're creative that's easy, but doing something fun and simple with friends (such as a forest walk or going to a concert) often gives the best results.

As you might expect, the big enemy is anxiety. It doesn't mix well with spiritual exploration via chemistry. So if you want to play with psychedelics, arrange your circumstances so you are surrounded by beautiful scenes or close trusted friends. Do not drive, do not go shooting, do not operate heavy machinery, do not stop police officers on the sidewalk to tell them you are expanding the frontiers of your mind or how weird their hats look.

 

Intuition

Most of us are familiar with the unconscious mind using the imagination to communicate with the conscious mind via intuition. For example new ideas, hunches, sudden solutions, insights and inventions all come from the unconscious to the conscious mind through the medium of the imagination.

These are everyday examples of what happens when unconscious intelligence and processes communicate through the imagination with the conscious mind.

Unfortunately, society has discouraged us from giving this information credibility. "It's just your imagination" is a commonly heard dismissal of information coming from the unconscious mind. This kind of conditioning has served to keep us disconnected from the deep richness of our vast unconscious resources. The funniest dismissive phrase about intuition is, "It's all in your mind." On consideration, most of us would agree that this is a pretty good thing. -Where else, one may ask, would any of us require our thoughts and perceptions to be coming from? This is like claiming, "Your brain is all in your head", which most of us would also tend to agree is a pretty good thing.

The unconscious part of our minds through history has been regarded as the domain of dreams, fancies, mental disorders and general woo-woo. Intuition has traditionally gotten a bad name for relying too much on emotion rather than reason, which is amusing because paradoxically the unconscious is perhaps the part of the mind that works most like a computer, in that it calculates without conscious knowledge of its own calculation. A major factor of intuition is that it intrudes into conscious experience; one that we are a lot more aware of than processes that remain unconscious only.

Intuition (intrinsic tuition, or 'tuition from within'), is a marvelous tool that can bring unconscious awareness into conscious awareness, but we can trust the accuracy of intuition only so far as association is congruous. If it isn't, 'hunches' will turn out to be unreliable (which is why so many people are skeptical from experience about the validity of intuition -theirs don't work out too well.)

A really good test for checking congruity of associations when you are making decisions is that a good decision will make sense logically and also ‘feel right’.

Having reliable intuition is an obvious advantage and is well-recognized and respected in some mainstream areas, for example detective, special forces and espionage work.

In law-enforcement subculture, the terms 'sixth sense', 'gut feeling' and 'hunch' are all used with universal understanding yet no clear definition -an experienced operative will tell you intuition is something one develops over time, and when you have it you know it. It can 'make the hair on your neck stand up' is one frequent comment, [96] and this is a common physical effect we also see in many other mammals automatically in response to alarm.

Intuitive behavior, what these people call a 'sixth sense' can be explained fairly easily when you know about the unconscious mind and how it's designed to communicate with our consciousness. In times of danger, the unconscious mind giving you that 'funny feeling' may be all it is currently able to accomplish, but with training intuition can be honed and sharpened like any other skill.

In trying to improve intuition you will get nowhere from the ontology (background beliefs about reality) that unconscious information is somehow supernatural or comes to you by magic or is a message from god or ESP. We need to cut through the woo-woo and grasp a firm understanding of exactly what is really going on and how this ability works in order to control and improve it.

Intuition is often described as a 'gut feeling' because coming from the unconscious down the 'short road', the 'feeling' often arrives before cognitive nets have had time to come to any conclusions themselves. The awareness arrives before the proof, the solution before the working, and that often creeps us out.

People who grow up in natural (enriched) surroundings learn about this automatic sort of function during their youth, courtesy of real life experience. Nothing makes you realize you're not in control like suddenly finding yourself up a tree with a snarling dog or annoyed bull at the bottom and having no idea how you got up there, or memory of having seen the animal until after you were up there.

This is not the same thing as an emergency response due to conscious input -we realize later that we didn't actually see or hear the dog or bull before we were up the tree, it's almost as if we got up the tree in some kind of trance, or 'in the zone'. When association is congruous we can see this intuition as a natural ability and we start to make friends with this mysterious warning system and trust it to help us out.

People who use their creative ability all the time, such as artists, scientists, engineers and mathematicians often get used to the idea that it's possible to understand something before they can explain it (and that that indeed is the basis for all creative innovation and scientific discovery).

If you find it hard to relate to these ideas, consider intuitive behavior (instinct), such as the way we know how to have sex without needing to be taught, that is the nature of unconscious knowledge. Conscious knowledge, experience and skills may make us better at sex, but nobody ever had to teach us where to put what; the knowledge just 'came into' conscious awareness in the same way we 'knew how to' breastfeed when we were born.

Being natural opportunists, most NH students when developing intuition also start thinking about what else we can be taught 'from within'. Intuitive behavior is applicable to any field, and it can be learned, examined, tested, studied and taught.

 

The Accuracy of Intuition Relies on Congruous Association

For as long as association remains congruous, intuition will serve us well; we will learn from experience how it interfaces with conscious awareness and be aware of it as unconscious information. If association isn't congruous, we might believe intuition is something like a magic power or a guardian angel, and it won't develop properly because instead of being out there in the real world praticing using it, we'll be isolated somewhere trying to develop ESP with playing cards or attempting to summon the guardian through prayer. Meanwhile, intuition atrophies.

Research shows that some amount of relevant unconscious association is always required for intuition to be accurate. For example, in one study participants were asked to predict the weather. While participants who trusted their 'feelings' were better able to intuitively predict the weather, they were only able to do so for the weather in their own local areas; not for the weather anywhere else. Researchers reasoned this is because "they don't possess a knowledge base that would help them to make those predictions." As another example, only participants who had some background knowledge about a particular game and current players benefited from trust in feelings in predicting winners. [97]

Likewise, growing up in natural surroundings gives us an unconscious knowledge base sufficient to make accurate decisions about reality. We know that dogs and bulls exist, we know it's possible to be harmed by them, and that's enough to give us reason to pick up unconscious subliminal signals that can detect their presence before there is conscious input.

Thus, this is another 'if=then' situation -IF we have a proper associative knowledge base, THEN we can trust intuition.

Intuition is also responsible for much creative inspiration. Research is showing that creativity is fostered by tasks that allow the body to relax and the mind to wander (which may be why Archimedes made his breakthrough discovery of displacement whilst relaxing in the bath) and is even encouraged by the contents of dream sleep.

It's long been known that that rapid-eye-movement sleep grants creative insight. The fact that allowing the mind to wander does the same, whilst known to creative people unconsciously from experience for hundreds if not thousands of years, has only recently (2012) been scientifically explained by conscious minds.

Research shows that mind-wandering (with or without mindfulness) is only helpful for creative issues that are already being concentrated on. Intuition is an ongoing association-dedicated service, rather than something that triggers a general increase in creative problem-solving ability. [98]

Daydreams appear to follow the same 90-120 minute cycle that characterize the fluctuation between REM and NREM periods, as well as fluctuations in mental capabilities associated with the right and left hemisphere. [99] That is, the cerebral hemisphere tend to oscillate in activity every 90-120 minutes -- a cycle which appears to correspond to the REM-NREM cycle and the appearance of day and night dreams.

 

Zoning Out

The creative state known as 'the zone' is related to these states but more complex, being used during creative interaction rather than during creative idea-generation. Research shows that allowing the brain to enter this state when it is performing complex tasks can have real benefits. Zoning out may have aided humans as an evolutionary strategy when survival depended on creative solutions.

Being in the Zone has been described as experiencing 'getting out of the way and allowing pure intelligence to be in the driving seat for a while', and Zoning is possibly as close as many people ever get to experiencing their potential power. Doing it increases production of alpha brainwaves and the internal release of acetylcholine, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins, which puts us in the perfect chemical state for pursuing our own creative goals, puzzle-solving, exploration and adventures in real life (if we have them) and (if we don't have them) explains much of the addiction to computer games seen in our times. [100]

 

Sleep and Dream Work

Note: It's not safe to do dream work whilst on any kind of sleep medication or whilst on long-term daily use of alcohol.

Many people have received workable new ideas and insights, accurate hunches, and unexpected intuitive understandings by considering their dreams in a waking state.

While sleeping and dreaming, internal sensory filtering is reduced (due to decreased 5HT) and motor functioning is inhibited -which prevents us (usually) from walking about and acting out our dreams.

Lucid dreaming, directed dreaming, hypnagogic states and self suggestion can also enhance access to unconscious awareness, as can ordinary dreaming by accident. These techniques (except the last one) can be difficult to master and are greatly assisted by knowing biofeedback basics and other kinds of feedback-assisted self control.

Those students wishing to pursue these kinds of activities should begin with dream-tracking; keeping a record of everything you remember from dreams as soon as you awake, regardless of what time it is.

Once you start dream tracking, the first thing you'll notice is memory improvement. This can take days or weeks to kick in and it's a sign that your unconscious is aware of what you're doing and is beginning to help you. It has noticed that for some reason these days dream content must be important to remember (because you are regularly writing it down), it has noticed the new habit and will now helpfully make an effort to remember more for your notes. The more you persist, the more it will remember.

Beware of devices or applications that help you wake up every time you go into or come out of REM sleep. Whilst these do indeed increase clarity of dream recall, they interrupt natural sleep patterns, which always slows down the performance of overall intelligence.

 

Weird Things that Happen in Dream Work

Imagination trying to play

At some point along the way dream recall may get so detailed and/or complex and 'storylike' that you may wonder whether your unconscious is starting to make stuff up and convince you that's what you really dreamed about.

If this happens, don't panic. Suspected confabulation is a sign of a developing imagination that needs to practice and play with its new skills. Slow up on the dream work and increase input of creative projects you are interested in pursuing in real life, you will give it direction and focus.

 

Hypnagogic images

These are usually experienced just as going to sleep, or when relaxing somewhere alone and quiet. They can also come as a side effect with some kinds of drugs. Suddenly there are vivid inner visions of N3's grid, lines, angles and shapes associated with it, or more abstract geometric figures. If anyone remembers the arcade game 'galaxians', that's the usual color scheme; fluorescent green wireframe lines on a black background , although there are many variations. Some hypnagogic imagery is very reminiscent of 'The Matrix' and many other portrayals of computer-generated imagery and it often also 'scrolls'. For reasons of such associations it really frightens some people (especially with strong N3s who watch a lot of sci fi) when they don't know what it is.

Images tend to be moving and some have called hypnagogic imagery "the Tetris effect".

If this happens, don't panic. Hypnagogic imagery is well-known and a lot of people can induce it in themselves on purpose and do so for fun and learning.

There is also an audio component and hypnagogic sounds vary as much as the visuals, including snatches of speech, sudden noises or musical tones. And even the tactile senses can get involved, giving the impression of floating or flying or the impressions of textures.

Hypnagogic imagery correlates with increased activity between N3 and N4 during sleep and also during alpha wave production; hence its occurence in meditation. [101] Electrophysiologically the right hemisphere becomes highly active during REM, whereas, conversely, the left hemisphere becomes more active during N-REM. [102] Measurements of cerebral blood flow have shown an increase in the right temporal regions during REM sleep and in subjects who upon wakening report visual, hypnagogic, hallucinatory and auditory dreaming. [103]

(Interestingly, deliberate induced or enhanced activity in the right temporal and temporal-occipital area acts to increase dreaming and REM sleep for an atypically long time period). [104]

It is likely that hypnagogic phenomena indicate access to unconscious awareness during the time that defragging is going on (hence it can also happen in blank staring or meditation). It is a trance state (not fully conscious, not fully unconscious) where the conscious mind 'goes to meet the unconscious halfway'.

During dreaming we are often semi-aware of the content of the files being replayed and defragged (for example if we have been on the sea that day, dreams often include the tactile impression of floating in waves, or if we are a rat learning a maze, the maze will occupy much of defragging time and we will 'dream the maze' as the information is transferred to long term memory.)

But hypnagogics take us beyond the content of the mind to its processes; what we are watching is data being 'ported' from one format/representational code to another. The quickly-changing imagery may be a direct feed from whatever is on N3's 'screen', in dreams this is usually memory replay mixed with images from N3 looking through the database to find matching concept patterns for re-coding recent experience, but in hypnagogic states it is more like the inner representation of the actual process of turning abstract ideas into concrete imagery and vice versa. Its technical name is "autosymbolism". [105]

 

Programming in Key Ideas for Dream or Trance Work

Staring at patterns and colors and designs like mandalas when inducing trance is one way of directing this type of imagery, which will of course include recent patterns viewed and their associations; and that's why shamans and spiritual seekers do this. If we need to access unconscious awareness to solve a problem, we can direct the area of search. A shaman sitting on a mat staring at a pattern is programming in "search tags" or "key concepts" so that the information processed will be in the area of the problem considered; exactly as we may 'mull over' the facts of a problem or difficult decision in words in our heads before 'sleeping on it' and allowing the unconscious to do all the work of association that points to an answer.

Perhaps the best-known example of the usefulness of this phenomenon is the chemist Kekule's realization that the structure of benzene was a closed ring while half-asleep in front of a fire and 'seeing' molecules forming into snakes, one of which grabbed its tail in its mouth. [106]

This was intelligence breaking through even though Kekule wasn't trying to do it on purpose. When we do it on purpose, a lot more intelligence can 'break through'. This is one way the conscious mind and unconscious mind are (or should be) able to work together -the conscious mind uses the unconscious exactly like a computer; it deliberately puts all the facts and data in at one end, asks a question, and allows the machine to solve the problem 'while you sleep'.

A 2001 study found that, while problems can also be solved in full-blown dreams from later stages of sleep, hypnagogia was especially likely to solve problems which benefit from hallucinatory images being critically examined while still before the eyes. [107]

There are hacks for inducing hypnagogic experiences in the hacks section of this tutorial.

Hypnagogia can be influenced by self-suggestion, hypnosis, or "passive concentration". [108] This is exactly what the shaman is doing when staring at images. Our modern equivalent is the dude who sets out all his equations or a mind map of a subject on a big board or a spreadsheet, associates it with a clear question, and stares at it blankly long enough for the unconscious to make it a priority for defragging (you make it the main thing in that day's input). Intense emotion (for example the desire to know the answer or the excitement of the chase) serves to enhance the function, and so of course do chemicals, by giving 'extra weighting' to the issues under consideration.

This does not mean 'worrying about things'. Mulling over difficulties instead of inputting data is about as much use to the unconscious as it is to the progress of a computer waiting for a critical mass of input to calculate the solution to a problem. The enabling state of mind is one of playfulness and curiosity, as any anxiety about the issues under consideration will prevent access to unconscious awareness.

Play on the surface, and all the work goes on underneath.

Often, you don't have to bother sleeping to solve problems in this way. Taking a break doing something totally different that requires little thought allows the unconscious to work on the problem while you amuse yourself. A software engineer colleague "goes away and watches star trek" whenever she gets stuck, personally I mess about in the garden when it's not too cold and fall back on sci fi or natural history when it is. Relaxing in the bath is a favorite 'time out' pastime for getting inspired too. Ask Archimedes.

Allowing the mind to 'wander', initializing the relaxation response, blank staring, meditation, dream sleep, hypnosis, mindfulness, music, dancing and some recreational drugs enable easier access to unconscious awareness. It seems we access unconscious awareness most easily when we are relaxed, receptive and playful. Play as always is the catalyst for intelligence growth.

 

Practical Assignment 1 - Emotional Stability

Identify and note examples of the 12 healthy emotions, portrayed in visual media you already have access to (for example movies, TV series, pictures). It's very easy to identify levity and grief. Can you find examples of all 12?

Make notes of the media that contain examples of other people (real or fictional) experiencing Comfort, Desire, Amity, Levity, Certainty, and Joy. Use these references for your own modeling practice.

Recall examples of yourself experiencing healthy emotions in the past, and use them to help evoke a pleasant emotion in the here and now.

Imagine things that you would feel amused about or excited by, and use these images to evoke similar feelings now.

Using a mirror and the reference pictures of facial expressions in this tutorial, see how well you can mimic each of the faces expressing Comfort, Desire, Amity, Levity, Certainty, and Joy. Which do you find hardest to mimic? Is there a correlation between the ones you find easy/hard and your strongest/weakest networks?

 

Practical Assignment 2 - Congruous Association

Which expressions are associated with which emotions and which possible behaviors?

 

 

Self Assessment

Snapback warning! Do not do this assessment if any anxiety is present. If anxiety arises during the assessment, stop. Come back to it when you feel relaxed and receptive.

Make a copy of the 'green zone' table showing emotions and sentiments from this tutorial, so that you can look at it while reading this text.

Remember a situation that you have been in the recent past, or an experience that you have had, where things did not turn out well. (Take it easy on yourself and do not start with major traumas!)

Regardless of whatever you were feeling at the time of the experience, look down the green zone column and decide which emotion would have been most appropriate in that situation (it may be the one you were feeling at the time, it may not.)

Look to the left and right of the emotion you chose as 'most appropriate'. If one of these sentiments is what you actually were feeling, you now know what healthy emotion was being replaced.

This may seem like no big deal; recognizing that we were feeling x when we should have been feeling y. But the next time we feel 'y', our unconscious will remember that it should be 'x' and start adjusting accordingly.

Work through situations that have failed to be as successful as you would like in the recent past and do this with each one. Don't do it with long-past issues at this stage.

By doing this you will be able to assess which particular areas our emotional spectrum has problems with.

For example, one NH student who's a graphic artist found that in every recent situation when logically he should have been feeling justified certainty (confidence), he was getting anxious and ending up with shyness and stage-fright and feelings of guilt that his work or ability wasn't good enough. Just noticing this enabled him to stop and think -"This is good work and I should feel rightly proud of it. If someone else doesn't like it, I'll listen to why, and if complaints are justified I will end up even better at what I do. Either way, there's nothing here to be afraid of."

 

 


 

 

Towards Entelechy

 

We've got nothing to fear...but fear itself
Not pain, not failure, not fatal tragedy
Not the faulty units in this mad machinery
Not the broken contacts in emotional chemistry

And the things that we fear are a weapon to be held against us...

He's not afraid of your judgment
He knows of horrors worse than your Hell
He's a little bit afraid of dying
But he's a lot more afraid of your lying

And the things that he fears are a weapon to be held against him...

Like a steely blade in a silken sheath
We don't see what they're made of
They shout about love, but when push comes to shove
They live for the things they're afraid of

And the knowledge that they fear is a weapon to be used against them...

 

(Neil Peart; Rush; excerpts from "The Weapon")

 

 

Remember sometimes when everything seems wrong, sometimes it is. There’s nothing wrong with feeling disgusted or unhappy about deleterious behavior when it inevitably crosses your path. The way out of getting drawn into it is to be appreciative of your own intelligence and freedom from stupidity. When you are well, be glad! : ) MJN

 

 

 

 The Most Important Bits to Remember 

 

Networks are kept wired by practice (use). The helpful or harmful nature of that use is irrelevant to an unconscious system.

We prioritise our attention to focus on items that are interesting, either because they are potentially beneficial to us or (equally important for survival) because they may be harmful. Emotion (and sentiment) always capture our attention as 'important'.

Healthy emotions help us to get in the right mood for whatever behavior may be required, and our basic behaviors (and hence emotions) are relatively simple. For example, the emotion of amity (friendliness) is appropriate to the behavior of empathy (we like it, we want to be closer to it) and the emotion of antipathy (offense or defensiveness) is appropriate to the behavior of defending ourselves (we don't like it, it's harmful, we want to get rid of it.)

Physical sensations associated with chemical changes and the concepts assumed to accompany them are the basis of emotion. Sensory overload is painful, sensory deprivation boring, and we are motivated to move away from both and towards benefits. Anticipation of our needs fulfilled is exciting, and having them fulfilled is satisfying, and we are motivated to move towards.

Animals’ experiences living in groups demands (and benefits from) more complex communication of ideas than simple drives and instincts. Emotion forms a part of communication –particularly unconscious communication- and can be conveyed by body language, gestures, tone of voice and pheromones as well as in words and noises.

The advantage of being able to communicate emotional experience through facial expression and body language enables us to act out memories, communicating dangers before we even have language. All emotions are associated with different sounds that we make when having them, which may well be the basis of language.

Emotion enables strong empathy, multi-format communication and lasting alliances; big advantages for any creature whose young take a long time to develop and who lives in interactive groups that face collective as well as individual problems. Mentally emotion can both motivate and inspire not just exploration and learning, but higher functions like design and creativity and judgement.

Emotion is tied intimately to the performance of our immune system, our self esteem and our physical and mental health.

All your memories are modulated by emotion, and the very act of remembering long-term is facilitated by it. Without emotion, there would be no intelligence because there would be no long term memory. Emotion triggers the release of the hormones and neurotransmitters we need to make memories permanent.

Motivation is essential for all behaviors. In automatic systems, motivation is provided by unconscious automation. In autonomous systems, emotion is needed to provide motivation for consciously directed behaviors.

The best way to avoid sentiment is to practise healthy emotion.

In understanding the unconscious, remember that basics are more important than details; contexts are more important than agents, processes are more important than data, in other words, the universe is more important (and more than) its material contents or its forces, but emergent from interaction between the two. The programs underlying ALL behavior are the important things to grasp.

 

Control neurotransmission (chemistry) and you modulate emotion and behavior.

Control behavior and you modulate neurotransmission and emotion.

Control emotion and you modulate neurotransmission and behavior.

...Do humans have free will? ...Only if they choose to make it so.

 

 


 

 



DO IT NOW

HACKS - For Emotional Stability and Unconscious Congruity

 

The First Step Towards Emotional Stability, for Absolute Beginners

…Is anxiety reduction. True emotion springs naturally from a healthy mind freed from anxiety. Emotion is a versatile, flexible and creative tool, like an extra sense, when we are not stuck in sentiment. It gives us the ability to perceive more of the truth, because it is aligned with the real world and is natural, rather than an artificial construct created by false assumptions via distorted perception.

If you’re stuck in sentiment it can seem like nothing will ever change, but the best proof is in practice, because if you start practising full emotion you’ll prove to yourself not only that things can change for the better, but that they do and they have. You can gain a much greater volitional control over what you feel and express, but to do so you have to take a break from constant distractions and hassle. Consider all anxiety-reducing techniques you can find and find the ones most suited to you. Overall, the most powerful seem to be meditation, humor, and input control.

 

Hacks for improving self control via input and increasing autonomy (freedom of choice in behavior, or 'willpower')

Using golden rule 3 in input control and output control

We already know that input control is an important key for adjusting personality, behavior, health and intelligence. Now that we also know how pervasive simple, everyday influences are you can see why it makes such a big difference when we adjust a lot of little things.

Do you remember our description of input control from tutorial 2?

Changes in the inner environment (your brain chemistry) in response to changes in the overall environment (your context) are what signals the genome. Input control is all about making beneficial changes happen on purpose in that 'inner environment' by manipulating input from the overall environment.

Emotional stability is the first step to emotional autonomy, free will and self control. At this stage in NH we are ready to begin the shift between 'adapting ourselves to fit in with environmental needs' and 'adapting the environment to fit in with our own needs'. By reducing anxiety we have allowed the brain to build the tools for 'adapting' to deal with stressors in a healthier way, and can now use our own behavior to 'change our minds'. We have a selection of NH tools and the knowledge of how to use them to protect ourselves from anxiety during this stage of development. So from this tutorial onwards, we'll also be looking at methods for output control as well as input control.

So far in implementing input control we have focused on ourselves; our habits, our forms of entertainment, our immediate surroundings, our diet, and everything about us. In this tutorial we've taken a look at some contextual things we're all surrounded by -other people- and how to protect ourselves from unhealthy influences, especially unconscious ones.

Obviously, we cannot isolate ourselves for fear of “catching the anxiety virus” because that would limit our cultural interaction to an unhealthy degree. But what we can do is (1) use types of input control that take advantage of this golden rule and (2) begin using output control to help create a relaxing context and avoid unwanted encounters.

Many tricks include both: for example if you sit alone and appear not to be doing very much in crowded public places like bars, parks or beaches, you are sending out an ancient mammalian body-language message that you're 'available for communication'. This attracts others to approach you, especially if you're looking around bored, so if you are stuck in a place where you notice a large number of stressed-out people are around, do something to engage your attention (for example, read a book, play with your ipad, do a crossword, doodle on paper, put on headphones). As well as distracting your own attention into helpful input, you are automatically distracting attention away from yourself -strangers are less likely to approach you if you're busy doing something, and to anxious strangers you are also less of a threat.

With a small bit of forward planning you can always have something about your person (even if its only your own mind) to 'pass the time' if present company is unwholesome. Remember too that it's repetition which signals the genome and makes habits become automatic, so one-off sojourns in anxious company are not very harmful.

 

Listen to the music

Here are some neurotransmitters and the emotions/colloquial terms they are associated with:

  • Serotonin – comfort, happiness, calm, ("laid back")

  • Dopamine – desire, lust, excitement, fun, ("hot")

  • Oxytocin - friendship, warmth, cameraderie, trust ("friendly")

  • Acetylcholine - focused, inspired, creative, light-hearted ("In the Zone")

  • Norepinephrine –Self esteem, confidence, pride ("cool")

  • Endorphins - joy, bliss, fulfilment, ("blissed out")

 

Consider your music collection. What sort of music do you associate with these moods and emotions? Listen to some of your favourite tracks and decide which category they fall into by what sort of moods they inspire.

You may have already discovered that you can hack your mood with music, movies and radio. Once you know what sort of music inspires different moods for you, you can use this information to fine-tune your personal plan.

Make a music collection that includes all the categories above. Use the NH tools that you already have at your disposal –music and movies are cheaper than drugs and have fewer side effects!

 

Talking the talk

Our own thoughts are input too. Our mind can hear what we say, including in our mind. This is “talking the talk” and it's all a part of walking the path as well as knowing the path. Talk to your own unconscious. Reassure it and remind it of the truth; that our own thoughts are not anxious, that we are aware of how others can affect us, and we understand that we're going to feel a little tense and must actively practice remaining relaxed in these circumstances.

Your mind hears you and listens to you and thinks your words are very important (why should it not?) and this is a good example of being able to use strong networks to help balance weak ones. Most westerners have a strong N5 and a predisposition to logic and rationality, so let's use it to our advantage by reminding N3 of what we know. This is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and is a great tool if you have strong front nets.

We can use it whenever we are aware of changes in our behavior which have a clear reason. For example, if we trip or overbalance when drunk, we don't think there's anything wrong with us because we know very well how our biology is affected by that drug, even though we may not know the chemistry details. If we start overbalancing all the time when not drunk, we get concerned because that's a checksum error; the brain doesn't know what's going on.

It's good that we are sensitive to our surroundings, because it indicates our unconscious awareness is developing its valuable warning system telling us when we need to assert systems-control. The moment we notice any change in how we feel when around anxious or aggressive behavior, we can remind our mind why it's happening. We can explain the checksum error to our unconscious mind exactly as we do when falling over drunk: "Take extra care to maintain balance here, because we're under chemical influences".

Tell your unconscious what's going on. If you see anxious behavior, think “they're doing that because they're anxious, I'm glad I don't behave that way”. If you start feeling anxious around people, remind your brain that you're picking up their pheromones and that it's okay to calm down. Take a few slow deep breaths to help your physiology readjust your heart rate and slow cortisol production. Tell your unconscious "It's okay; this is not my problem".

It may sound strange that you can talk to your own brain and be understood by the unconscious parts, but this is true. It's simply “input” and it's treated as part of the incoming data about 'what's going on'. All you are doing is sending the message “problem explained! -cancel red alert; it's okay”, and as you develop this habit your unconscious will learn to comply without needing to know why, because it trusts you absolutely. So take care of it, and don't let it get ambushed by anxiety.

You can increase the percentage of input from yourself in ANY situation.

We're not suggesting that you should talk aloud to yourself (although you can in private if you like). Unconscious information is received whenever you think the thoughts; whenever you imagine the images. This means thought alone can be used as a defensive strategy.

Association, imagination and memory are all affected by emotion and mood. If you become aware that you are for some reason feeling "in a bad mood", you can plan a strategy for deliberately changing it via input control, for example: stop what you are doing and take a break, eat something nutritious, get sleep if you need to, occupy your mind with funny or interesting things until it can get 'off the subject' of your annoyance. Give your mind time to assimilate all the unconscious information it has collected in short term memory. Use the relaxation response. Developing self awareness (knowing how your own chemistry works and what unbalances it) is important at this stage.

We are NOT 'at the mercy of' our moods; we are responsible for them. Just like you probably have strategies for getting rid of an unpleasant headache, so we can have strategies for getting rid of an unpleasant mood.

 

various options for input and output control

Use your face: Our own facial expression tells our brain and other people's how seriously to take input and what sort of chemicals to respond with. Use a mirror and pictures of the basic emotions (in this tutorial, above) to model the facial expressions of healthy emotions. The signals your face sends to your brain will encourage the growth of healthy emotion response networks, and you will more automatically use them in appropriate social situations.

Use your body: Our posture can make others (and ourselves) feel unconsciously more or less anxious. Deliberately look out for and interrupt any unconscious habits of modeling the behavior, postures or verbal accents of anxious people when you're with them -remind yourself of, and take care to maintain, your own posture and your own voice, and remain aware of the volume and speed of your speech.

'Smelling' of oxytocin spreads goodwill to all humans, but can make you gullible, especially if NE is high. DIY sex or massage before an attractive encounter will make you 'smell' more attractive and less anxious during that encounter (but do wash your hands before making the gourmet meal).

Doing things that you enjoy with accompanying smells will increase your sensitivity of the smells themselves and augment the experience with higher resolution memory. A massage with natural flowers in the room will make you release more serotonin and oxytocin. Lovemaking with flowers in the room has similar effects on dopamine.

Be aware, and take responsibility for your own attention. Recognize what's really going on around you and remind yourself of it: Sometimes even just realizing that someone else around you is anxious can prevent you from modeling them.

By now we should be increasing conscious awareness of unconscious systems such as attention, and taking responsibility for what we pay it to. We can hack automation by various means and one of the best is the noble art of ignoring things. Go to places that have a TV on and practice NOT paying any attention to it. Behave as if it isn't there. Deliberately focus your attention on things such as: who is the healthiest looking person in the room? Who is the most interesting-looking person in the room? Whose clothing is the most aestheticallly pleasing? Who is the noisiest person in the room? Where are the nicest combinations of colors in the room? Where is the light and shadow effect most pleasing in the room? Can you remember when you first came here? What was your first impression of this place? Was it accurate? Has this place been here for a long time, or a short time? If you owned this place, what would you do with it? Where is the nearest natural scene? What is the best item or activity available to you in this place?

By occupying your own attention in these ways, it will get used to being directed by your conscious mind rather than wandering about undirected responding automatically to everything the eyeballs turn towards. Do not be a robot! Take responsibilty, because that gives you respond-ablity.

Anxious people routinely employ sentimental imagery in the media and even during ordinary social interactions to attempt to bias the decisions of others. This 'subliminal advertising' can be done the other way round: visual scenes such as smiling and attractive faces, natural surroundings, lighting effects, music, creativity, sensory enhancement, chemicals, meditation, appetizing foods, comedy, fantasy, scents, nature documentaries, new ideas and beautiful pictures can all evoke strong healthy emotions in ourselves and those around us.

In media, take responsibility for being 'programme controller' for yourself instead of taking your input from whatever is being pushed at you. Don't use the radio or TV just to 'make a noise'. If you need to go to a public place where screens and adverts are everywhere, train yourself to be able to NOT look at them. Focus your attention on the most aesthetically pleasing object in the room, then search for other wholesome visual input. Make it a habit to always seek out the most wholesome thing in every environment and circumstance. That way even in bad circumstances you are still getting some good input, an it also teaches you which are the most 'deprived' and which the most 'enriched' places to hang out.

Learn how to entertain yourself; plan an evening as though you were inviting your double round for a good time, then live it. If you have to wait in a boring place, play mental games to pass the time using only your mind, for example using your memory, imagination or intellect.

Who we are today is largely the result of what input we have experienced in the past, but that doesn't matter, because who we are tomorrow is largely the result of what input we are providing for our own experience today. The best way to assure success in the future is to construct it in the here and now.


Behavioral control

We are developing a powerful interface with our unconscious computer. All we have to do is build that interface, and the computer will solve all the problems and avoid all the bullets. We build that interface by interaction between conscious and unconscious processes, and that means practicing directing normally unconscious processes.

Remember, we can express things to others' unconscious awareness in just the same way they can to ours: by the unconscious messages in our own behavior and chemistry. If others are 'surrounded by you' frequently enough and your input is good, they will automatically improve.

We'll learn more about this in the next tutorial when we explore the core conditions for interaction. (If you want to know more before going on, read “Interaction and core conditions: the basics” in the Basics section of the Library).

 

hacks for improving congruity and communication between unconscious & conscious awareness

lucid dreaming

Lucid Dreaming is consciously being aware within your dream.

Studying your dreams can teach you many things about yourself. The state of dreaming can arguably be viewed as the ultimate form of meditation. Dreams bring your unconscious mind to the forefront, and can convey unconscious knowledge about your health, relationships, and other matters. For example, they may offer symbolic images that tell you about biological processes going on inside your body, and what you need to do to stay healthy.

When you are dreaming and you become conscious that you are dreaming you can start to control your dreams. It can be an exhilarating experience, and the feeling of euphoria after your first few lucid dreams can last for days. To start remembering your dreams try this simple technique -- Keep a dream journal. Even writing a few short sentences about your dream is enough. This will get you into the habit of remembering your ordinary dreams and to start looking for dream signs within your dreams.

Next, pick out dream signs. A lot of your ordinary dreams will have objects or people in them that could act as a cue to becoming lucid in your dreams. Choose an easily-remembered one that you can use as a reminder that you're dreaming. Whenever you see it in a dream, your unconscious can be trained to give you lucid awareness whilst still dreaming.

Working from themes or symbols that have occured in your own sleeping dreams is often most productive here. Refer to the 'basics/ details/ idea' document.

If your images are irrelevant, erratic, unfocused, confusing and generally not getting anywhere it may be useful to start off by 'entering' an imagined archetypal scene.

The scene should, as far as possibe, be emotionally neutral in itself so that the dream activity that evolves out of this scene relates to current feelings in your mind rather than associations with the scene. A meadow, hill or brook are usually suitable. (check that the scene you chose doesn't have any strong associations for you.) Then once you have got yourself into the dream it should take over and develop naturally.

To be consciously aware in your dream world means you have to be conscious and aware in your waking world, so high anxiety will prevent lucid dreaming. Being consciously aware means looking around you in the here and now and being aware of what you see, feel, hear, smell and touch and able to think about it. If you start to consciously focus more often on awareness in the world around you, you will carry this ability over into the dream world.

Ask yourself right now ‘Am I dreaming?’. Your obvious answer is to say no, of course you are not dreaming. How do you know? Try and think about why and how you know you are not dreaming. This again will carry over into your dreaming world and your unconscious will start asking the same questions in your dreams.

The unconscious is very suggestible. Many people have their first lucid dream simply by reading an article like this about it. You might find that you become over-excited at first and lose the lucid dream, however, your first lucid dream will be remembered for years to come. By far the best technique for overcoming anxiety at the surprise of finding yourself aware that you are dreaming is calming yourself down with self suggestion and hypnotic scripts (see below). If you find that you are losing your lucidity, you can talk to yourself to calm yourself down and just start noticing the things around you in your dream. Hypnotic scripts encourage you to look at details and this focuses your mind on staying lucid.

 

inducing hypnagogic experiences

Hypnagogic experiences can be induced in a number of ways, from sensorimotor tricks such as holding up one of your arms as you go to sleep, to using tech to induce alpha or theta states which are subjectively similar to sleep onset. [111]

More complex methods include forms of sensory deprivation or enhancement, the use of techniques like meditation to "hover on the edge of sleep" thereby extending the duration of the hypnagogic state, self-suggestion, and training yourself in the art of introspection to heighten observation and attention while relaxing front networks.

Most of these are also hypnosis techniques, so read on...

 

self-hypnosis

Hypnosis is one of those methods that is both a hack and an exercise! We'll include self-hypnosis techniques in these practical sections from now on.

In tutorial 2 we outlined briefly some benefits of self-hypnosis. It's way more effective than getting someone else to do it -simply because with a stranger involved, the unconscious feels more stressed and often suspects coercion. This is why many people can't 'be hypnotized' by others, and we recommend self-hypnosis as being a lot easier for this reason.

Before doing anything it's always useful to know what it is, so let's shift our concept of hypnosis associations away from 'you are feeling sleepy' and stage magicians and pendulums and old horror movies. Hypnosis is simply the focused, relaxed use of imagination-based abilities. It is the beginning of 'self-programing' for many and as such their gateway to self awareness and self control.

Hypnosis is one of the most effective methods for inducing interaction between unconscious and conscious awareness, because it induces the brain chemistry that correlates with the first stage of COMP VC.

If we couldn't 'go into hypnosis', we wouldn't be able to learn, to sleep, or to get ourselves anxious by doing 'negative self hypnosis'. (You know when you imagine things going wrong and it makes you feel anxious? Well that's hypnosis!) When you are 'hypnotized', you are just really relaxed and focused; you have achieved the relaxation response chemistry, and added CNS ACh.

That's the state of 'concentration' in COMP VC; the perfect chemistry to begin learning, as we are fearless, comfortable and receptive. It is important to learn that hypnosis isn't like being asleep - we can be aware of everything around us, just like when we meditate (in fact the two states are nearly identical). In hypnosis, we simply have a stronger focus on input, plus wonderful deep relaxation.

We never try to 'tell ourselves what to do' in hypnosis. As in any other context, coercion slows us down and gets in the way. We need the unconscious to work with our conscious minds because it wants to, because it feels safe and it knows from experience that's the most beneficial thing it can do. And its fun. Exercises in self hypnosis give it that experience.

The intelligence factors we are using in self hypnosis are attention, orientation, association and imagination, plus our ability to initiate the relaxation response. When we go into hypnosis, we simply get very involved with an inner reality, and we create this involvement, this focus, by drawing attention to detail in an interesting way. This is not just about creative imagination or data-mining our memory, it's about controlling our attention - learning how to get it focused on one or several things.

 

We use various tools in hypnosis that make it easier for interaction and communication between conscious and unconscious awareness. The most helpful ones to learn to use first are hypnotic 'scripting' (HS) and the six 'hypnotic language/thought patterns' that are useful in programming:

  • Universal Nominalizations (UN)
  • Embedded 'commands' (EC)
  • Metaphor and analogy formats (M/A)
  • Illusory choice algorithms (ICA)
  • Presupposition algorithms (PA)
  • Adjunctive suggestions (AS)

 

To be good at hypnosis we need to practise using these tools until they are familiar and easy. We'll give examples of how to use them in this and the next few tutorials.

 

Universal Nominalizations (UN)

UNs are words whose specific meaning is personally interpretable (unlike words such as 'head', 'mathematics', or 'tree' that have specific formal scientific definitions). Using UNs in hypnotic scripts tends to grab unconscious attention and to focus us inwardly.

UNs are words that tend to evoke emotion and imagination, and can be used against us by unscrupulous people (and are every day in the advertising industry, by professional interrogation teams, and by all political and religious leaders.) You'll start to notice how others fall unconsciously into using them if they get confused (or are trying to confuse you), but like many other tools they can be used for our benefit in healthy ways.

Sentiment-related words like 'worry', 'guilt' and 'shame' are UNs too, and unfortunately they tend to encourage inner searches just as efficiently laced with anxiety. That's why we avoid sentiment terms in hypnosis. Instead of saying, "I felt worried" we replace it with something like "I felt less confident". Instead of saying "I felt angry" we say "I felt less amity" or "I felt less empathy". It is important to use positive nominalisations during hypnosis, rather than 'the absence of negatives'. For example, "A pleasant memory came to mind" rather than "No nasty memories came to mind".

Of all hypnotic language/thought patterns, UNs are one of the most important to learn about.

The first stage in self-hypnosis is the relaxation stage and if you can't achieve the relaxation response you won't achieve self-hypnosis (and you shouldn't be doing intermediate tutorials).

Those who have got this far will already have their own favorite methods for inducing the RR, so we begin with that.

The next time you deliberately initiate the relaxation response, focus on the experience and sensation of gently directing your mind to create a restful state of internal calm. This is the same method you will use for self-hypnosis, so that's where we start.

When we are in a state of relaxation, we induce an hypnotic state by drawing attention to details of an experienced event. The idea is to 'create a VR scene' in our mind.

We use UNs in hypnotic scripting to develop the most important hypnotic ability -the ability to recreate concept-sets consciously within the mind.

 

Try this exercise: (you will need somewhere comfortable to sit or lie and some way of writing things down.)

Invoke a pleasant memory of an experience you have already had; something relaxing such as a holiday, a cool place you have really been to, or something you have enjoyed doing. Instead of just recalling this as 'walking in the forest' or 'sitting by the lake', break the experience down into the separate components of experience and write down what you remember seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling (tactile sensation) and mood (emotion) in the event you are describing, incorporating the experience into a dialogue (like a story) and associating as many UNs as you can with your experience, from those in the list below:

 

Universal Nominalizations (UNs):

Peace Calm Relax Tranquility Easy Nice Pleasant Peaceful Relaxation Strength Lovely Special Wonderful Deep Amazing Comfortable Warm Cool Drift Float Dream Fantastic Enjoyment Sleepy Gentle

 

To help you, here's another student's example:

"We went to a lovely forest on Jersey Island, there was a deep, deep ravine with a fantastic view all the way down and a wonderful slim bridge across the gap. I stood on the bridge in the pleasant semi-shade and felt an amazing special calm and tranquility. I could see lovely shades of green with flashes of color, in trees and plants everywhere around. There was almost silence, behind me the gentle drift of dream-like voices, ahead the peaceful sounds of nature, leaves drifting and floating by on either side in the warm breeze, comfortable on my skin, smelling wonderfully of pine resin and flowers. The lovely taste of strawberries was still in my mouth as we'd eaten some. I felt relaxation and strength, all at the same time."

 

...we count 23 UNs in this example.

Words, even silently in our minds, can evoke an experience. When you're building up an hypnotic experience, you're looking to use all the components of experience. Read back your story, imagining yourself in the same situation now, then 'zoom in' on one detail and think of more associated details. For example, in the story above, what position is the body in, what sort of other things are there to be seen? What is the texture of the ground beneath or objects in the hands? What sort of clothing is being worn? What is overhead? What other colors make up the landscape? What other sounds form an ambient backdrop? Analyse the details of what makes up a particular taste or texture or sound.

Now write this second part down, incorporating it into the dialogue and using UNs as before.

This is a basic hypnotic script. The next stage is to either record your script and play it back to yourself, or ask an assistant to read it to you in a calm, peaceful voice, immediately after you have achieved the relaxation response. As you listen, you will drift away from the immediate environment and start to focus on the scene in your imagination. Look at each detail and notice how memory 'goes searching' for associations. Noticing the details in surroundings and in our own body deepens relaxation, and UNs interspersed in the contents tend to increase this capacity for this inner search.

If you do this exercise regularly, you will achieve an hypnotic state.

 

Embedded 'commands' (EC)

Rather than be too direct when doing hypnosis, this hypnotic language/thought pattern allows us to be more subtle in imparting interactive instructions. If we want the unconscious to listen carefully, for example, we could say: "Listen carefully", or we could say "When we listen carefully, we tend to remember much more."

By saying this, we have not only given the instruction, 'listen carefully’, but also put it within a context that gives the unconscious mind a compelling reason to do so.

When read aloud, the embedded command ('listen carefully') should be emphasized or spoken slightly differently to the rest of the sentence to 'mark it out' so that the unconscious mind is more likely to pick it out.

Here is an example of an hypnotic script containing embedded commands:

 

UPPER CASE = Universal Nominalization

Underlined = Embedded Suggestion

"You can go into hypnosis with eyes open or eyes closed, but it may well be more COMFORTABLE just to take a moment to close your eyes right now. And the interesting thing is that when you begin to relax deeply, the flow of blood in the body is altered. When a person becomes tense, blood tends to leave the stomach and go into the major muscle areas and people can develop digestive problems but when you RELAX, quite often parts of the body feel warmer. The hands can feel warmer sometimes and blood flows into the hands and the stomach often begins to function in a very NICE, EVEN way as you begin to RELAX. Now what you can do, is just to take a few seconds now to imagine the sort of place where you could be at this time on listening to this where you’d be BEAUTIFULLY, NICELY, PEACEFUL and RELAXED. The sort of place that can give you the space in your mind, to really learn and discover the new ways of doing and being in your life."

 

IMPORTANT!: When you record hypnotic scripts, do not listen to them when your conscious attention is employed (for example using machinery or driving).

There will be more self hypnosis exercises in the next tutorial.

 

hacks to help you build up strong congruity in association & imagination

Data mining & coding

You need either your neurohacking diary and a pen, or a (small) computer. You’ll have to carry it with you for a while so try to make it light.

Prepare a spreadsheet or note page as follows: create three columns, the first two of which are only about 3cm/1" wide each.

Label the leftmost column ‘Basics’, the central column ‘Details’ and the right hand column ‘Idea’.

Carry this document with you as you go about your daily life. Whenever you have an idea, you should make a note of it.

What do we mean by ‘an idea’? Well, it might be, “Hey, I haven’t eaten Chinese food for ages; I’ll have some tonight!” It may be, “Ah, I wish I’d said such-and-such a thing to so-and-so in that argument with John at work today.” Or it may be, “Wouldn’t it be great if someone wrote a computer game about giant lobsters?” Many ideas crop up in our everyday thoughts all the time.

But this is not just a simple record of thoughts. The ‘Basics’ column is where you list the 'overall subject' of your idea; the examples here would be ‘Food’, ‘Argument’, and ‘Game’. The basics will be big concepts associated with many thoughts.

The Details column is for the details, in this case ‘Chinese’, ‘John’, and ‘giant lobsters’.

The last column is for the actual idea. Don’t write in lots more details, just one or two sentences at most.

You can collect as many ideas as you like, but about a week is a good length of time. After a week, look through your list of ideas. Ignore the actual ideas themselves; just look at the 'Basics' column. Scan the list for recurring subjects.

For each recurring subject, begin a new page. Title the top of the new page with the subject, then make 3 columns as before.

Transcribe (or cut/paste) the ideas from the first set of sheets onto their relevant pages, but instead of naming the ‘subject’, number them instead. The second and third columns will be exactly the same. Now you have subject-specific sheets for recurring subjects. Once you have subject-specific sheets, you can collect your ideas there instead.

You need about three weeks’ worth of ideas to move on to looking for patterns. To do this, think about how the ideas connect with each other. Look at what subject your unconscious pays the most attention to (it will be the biggest subject list). Think about what you might be paying too much attention to! Think about what inspires you… Look for associations.

If you kept your lists well, some things will become apparent to you straight away. We may be surprised at the things we discover, once we realize what we spend most of our time thinking about!

What’s the point? In much the same way as keeping a dream diary improves your dream recall, keeping an ideas diary improves your strategic thinking and your awareness of unconscious content. Your mind ‘gets the hang’ of what you appear to want from it and begins to associate ideas for you in the same way that you associate them in your notebook.

If you then pay more attention to creative or logical thoughts, more of them will occur to you. Doing this exercise properly can really make you consciously aware of the plasticity of your brain, and you’ll begin to get a glimpse of some of the things you will be able to do with it as you start to direct that.

 

Improving sensorimotor association & balance

Tune into your body

Take a minute out and sit very still. Now, place your hands on the arms of the chair or the desk in front of you, and try to focus your attention on counting your heartbeats. Can you feel a throbbing drum beat, a sense of vibration, or nothing at all? How does your bladder feel? Is it empty or will you need to visit the bathroom soon? How relaxed are you -particularly in the back and shoulder areas?

You may be surprised to learn that tuning in to these bodily sensations is helping you think. Recent discoveries about mind-body connections have overturned the view of the body as a passive vehicle driven by the brain. Instead there is more of a partnership, with bodily experiences playing an active role in your mental life. The brain cannot act independently of the body. Tune in to the body's signals like this, and you can exploit the association to improve your creativity, memory and self-control.

 

Find out if you have a sensory orientation bias.

Nobody is totally left- or right-handed, but most people have a dominant hand. The degree of dominance for different tasks varies and will tell you about the degree of density of the sensorimotor networks associated with each hand. These exercises will show you the degree of dominance.

 

1. Screw up three balls of A4 paper and make a 'target' on the floor [masking tape on carpet is great] with an inner square of about a foot [30cm]. Sit opposite your target, about 12 feet away. Try and land the paper balls in the target square, first throwing with one hand, then the other. Measure how close each ball got after the throw and note which hand did best.

2. Using a stopwatch, measure how long it takes you to write out the alphabet with one hand and then the other.

3. Get some lined paper. Draw a horizontal line between two of the lines all the way across the page, first with one hand, then the other. Count how often your line touched the sides for each hand.

4. Get a pair of tweezers, a box of matches and a stopwatch. Measure how long it takes you to remove all the matches from the box one at a time with the tweezers, using first one hand and then the other.

5. Now measure how long it takes you to get them back in, by the same method.

 

Now you can calculate your sensory orientation. Which hand won, overall?

If they were both about the same, you can ignore the 'sensory orientation & balance' exercises in the section below. If you found you had a strongly dominant hand, you should do them.

 

Verbal learning memory booster

memory can be boosted by taking a brief wakeful rest after learning something verbally new, and that memory lasts not just immediately but over a longer term.

"Boosting new memories with wakeful resting." July 23rd, 2012. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-07-boosting-memories-resting.html

 

Exercises

 

Exercises for sensory orientation and balance (to improve congruous association of sensory motor & spatial networks).

You need to concentrate on the hand that GOT THE LOWEST SCORES in the hacks section tests above.

 

1. For an ongoing 'balancing' exercise for networks 1 & 2, use your non-dominant hand to write out a simple sentence of your choosing [between ten and fifteen words is best] once a day. Time it. When your non-dominant hand is as fast as your dominant hand, just practise this exercise once or twice a week.

 

2. This is an exercise that can strengthen neural connections and even create new ones.

Switch the hand you are using to control the computer mouse or track pad. Use the hand you normally do NOT use.

What do you notice?

Does your brain assume that directions are 'the other way round'?

Is it harder to be precise and accurate with your motions?

Do you feel like you did when you were first learning to tie shoelaces?

If you are feeling uncomfortable and awkward don’t worry, your brain is learning a new skill.

Try other neural building and strengthening exercises with everyday movements. Use your opposite hand to brush your teeth, dial the phone or operate the TV remote. Try drawing simple shapes (eg square, triangle, circle), letters of the alphabet, and numbers with the non-dominant hand.

 

3. Engage different senses

Try to include one or more of your senses in an everyday task

Get dressed/undressed with your eyes closed (don't do this one in the office).

Share a meal with a friend and use only visual cues to communicate. No talking. -Do you find you make eye contact more?

 

4. Combine two senses:

Listen to music and smell flowers, perfume or incense

Listen to the rain and tap your fingers

Watch clouds and play with modeling clay at the same time

 

5. Break routines:

Go to a regular destination by a new route

Eat with your 'opposite' hand

Get your food from somewhere different

 

6. Close your eyes. Now, with eyes completely shut, use your other senses to hone in on a specific familiar object. Whether it's the front door, the coffee pot or your shoes, use only your other senses to find your way to it. By facilitating spatial memory, sense of smell and touch, the brain is automatically associating nerve pathways and allowing cells that fire together to wire together.

 

7. Break the Regimen. Change your daily routine by simply adding or subtracting components from usual activities. A good example of this would be to have a family member or friend accompany you while you work. Or better still, do something you normally wouldn't do - e.g., go to the park instead of the mall; walking somewhere as opposed to driving there.

 

exercises for improving self control/ autonomy ('willpower') via input

looking at addictions

People tend to know consciously when they are addicted to smoking or drinking or gambling.

The most common examples of harmful unknown addictions are sugar, TV, noise, money, sleeping pills, constant company, and material possessions.

Now consider: is anything on this list an essential biological need that we are born with?

Imagine yourself on a remote beautiful island where there is plenty of food and water and a friendly tribe of fun people, who really like you. Think about it...in this situation, if any of the items on the above list were taken away, would you experience 'severe trauma'? How would you feel about the prospect of never getting it again?

Is there anything not on the list that you would experience trauma leaving behind?

Now imagine some people you already know and like are transported there with you. They could be family members or friends. Consider how each one of them would cope in that situation without the stuff in the above list. What other activities or items do you think they might have trouble doing without.

How easily would your companions adapt to the new situation? Chances are you find yourself thinking things like, "Well, so-and-so would be fine as long as there weren't any snakes", or "That person would only be happy if there were loads of hot girls", or "This person would go mad without access to burgers/ TV/ baseball". You could probably also assess who would settle down and adapt the fastest, and the effect that the behavior of some of you would have on the behavior of the others.

Now imagine someone you respect (factual or fictional) in the same situation. How easily would they adapt? Do you think it's their personality and attitude or their physical behavior or their neurochemistry that would help or hinder them?

Thought exercises like this help us empathize with people's similarities as well as differences, and they also help us to get a perspective on our own addictions and to 'know ourselves'. That helps us to look in the right areas for healthier input as replacements for neurodegenerative habits.

If you suspect you may be addicted to anything that's getting in the way of independence, hack it. Self control is not about stopping ourselves from doing things; it is about choosing to do things and interactively directing the flow of our lives.

 

Exercises for practising healthy emotions and making congruous association between emotions and events

Don't do these all in the same session! One at a time is best, or one in the morning and one in the evening at most.

Every time you genuinely laugh, you're helping yourself move towards or stay in the green zone. Levity, or 'mirth' is a core emotion. It's a good one to start with, because most of us already know what it feels like to experience amusement. Plus you can always ask a friend to tickle you.

Learn what things you can think about, listen to, watch or read that make you laugh, and DO your NH -pay attention to them. Your mission is to make yourself laugh and WHILE LAUGHING, think to yourself "This is levity" (or whatever name you have chosen.) Pay attention to the way you feel when you laugh, bodily, mentally, and associate it all with the name you have chosen for this experience. Also remind yourself that this is causing the release of healthy transmitters.

 

Q: Can you remember what they are likely to be?

Clues: Consider which network is most active when you're amused, and what transmitters are associated with this behavior.

This chemical helps us feel focused but relaxed, and motivates us to 'stay on target'.


A: If you got 'Acetylcholine', good for you. Due to different cascades in varying circumstances other transmitters likely to be released are oxytocin and serotonin. If you got both of those, laugh it up some more.

 

Next, go for comfort/happiness/pleasure: practice identifying and invoking sensory pleasure in yourself and learn how to make your body feel nice and your surroundings feel comfortable. Consider what your favorite tastes and textures are, what music helps you feel relaxed and chilled out, what sort of activities leave you with a feeling of warm satisfaction. Notice how your behavior can change what emotions you feel. In the same way as you did for levity, deliberately think about the associations between the feeling and the name you have chosen for this emotion.

Explore the many sub-categories of desire including lust, hunger (try fasting all day then eating whatever you like in the evening), excitement (try to find something non-sexual to get excited about. Think of a project you could get excited about), intrigue (think of a puzzle or mystery that you would really like to solve, or something you would love to know about but don't).

Think about people you like and respect, and either are or would like to be friends with. What friendly things can you imagine doing for somebody really cool? Thinking about these behaviors will invoke feelings of amity and friendliness. Spend a while enjoying what it feels like. Notice how different it feels to lust and mirth.

Think of something you know you are good at doing and consider how confidently you behave when doing it. Spend time being proud of yourself for being such a cool dude that you care about your mind and the quality of your life and are taking positive steps to improve it. Consider improvements you have noticed and remember that is the result of YOUR good work, taking care of yourself as all intelligent beings should. This is genuinely-deserved pride, so notice how it improves your self esteem.

Think about the things that give you joy. If you're not sure you've experienced joy yet, imagine being with a whole group of people who love you and respect you, as you do them. Imagine things that you think are beautiful, magical, amazing, mind-blowing and wonderful.

We do not recommend you deliberately practice each networks' hazard-related emotions; disgust, alarm, offense, gravity, uncertainty or grief. Even though these are all healthy emotions, and will be useful later, they cannot assist us at this stage.

First become familiar with the 'growth' related emotions. At the same time, begin looking at your input with a critical eye. When you watch a movie or read a story, what healthy emotions are portrayed?

If you cannot find any, its likely that you've been soaking up examples of sentiment, so review your reading, listening and watching habits -are they encouraging you to behave in foolish ways?

 

practising healthy emotion via modeling

Choose your partners: by now you should have located some examples of healthy emotion in video & literature media that you have been able to model. Now it's time to use your imagination and abstract this behavior into everyday real life.

As you go about your daily life, it is inevitable that you will witness (and maybe involved in) events that are emotional. Imagine how your role models for healthy emotion would respond in these various situations.

Consider circumstances in your own life that are emotional and ask yourself how your role models would respond. Also think about past events in the same manner. If you see beneficial outcomes, incorporate the behaviors into your own responses.

Next, abstract the characters into fantasy scenarios. Put them through their emotional paces and observe.

Then imagine yourself in these various scenarios and considering what emotions you would expect to feel and how you would respond with healthy emotion in the following situations (remember, you are only allowed to consider healthy emotional responses). If you have difficulty with this exercise, go back to considering how your healthy emotion role models would respond.

 

Being misunderstood

Someone you like offering a sexual encounter

The death of a loved one

Losing contact with loved ones unexpectedly

Discovering a new activity that is very interesting

Injury or illness (oneself or a loved one)

A generally-unpleasant idiot tells a good joke

Receiving an unexpected great gift from a friend

Being abused or ignored

Becoming a parent (in healthy circumstances)

Excessive demands from others

A challenging problem you seem to be stuck on

Disagreements with allies or loved ones

Someone you don't like telling you that they love you

Lack of experience necessary to do an important task

Making presentations in front of respected allies

A super-nice meal in relaxing circumstances

Getting through boring unproductive and time-consuming incidents

Someone you really love telling you that they love you

Coercion of any kind

An interesting-looking stranger being friendly

Someone you like telling you they don't like you

Stranger on a plane faints and nobody knows what to do

Facing & treating phobias (e.g., morbid fear of the dark, silence, insects, disease, flying, heights, public speaking, chatting with strangers at a party)

Being asked to join something you really want to be part of

Someone you find sexually attractive rejecting your advances

Someone intelligent telling you you're cool

Waiting for medical test results or similar important news

A professional massage from a friend you really trust


 

Congruous association and trust

We include this as it is a common problem for students to understand the concept of 'trust' if they have been used to using sentiment.

When you have congruous association, trust is a relative concept (that is to say, nobody can be trusted to have competence in all fields and abilities.) We probably know an assortment of people whom we might variously trust to drive a car safely, cook us a good meal or hold on to something important for us without forgetting about it. We may not know anyone we could trust to do safe open heart surgery, helicopter piloting, or bomb-disposal.

Trust has NOTHING to do with morality. You cannot trust me to fly a helicopter because I have no idea how to. I'm not a trustworthy pilot. We trust our brain and body to remember how to walk safely in most terrains. WE may not trust them to be able to do so on craggy ice or in deep sand. These are facts, with no emotional values attached.

Trust is about ability. Can you trust someone to have an ability? Think of six people you know and like. Which of the following things do you think each one is able to do competently? Which ones could you be trusted to do?

 

Remember to post a letter on a certain day

Write a computer program

Pay attention to what is said

Remember that something is meant to be kept confidential

Keep something confidential

Understand the importance of something to someone else even though it's not important to them

Fly a plane

Design an efficient trap for catching live animals

Arrive at a place at an exact time

Change a baby

Navigate a strange place without getting lost

Remember that they promised to do something

Handle dangerous reptiles

Learn a new dance

 

Trust is about capability-assessment. Is someone ABLE to keep a secret? Is someone ABLE to fly a plane? Is someone ABLE to copy a procedure? Is someone ABLE to experience genuine emotion? Is someone ABLE to control their emotional expression? Is someone ABLE to interact? The inability to keep a secret or remember something important is a lack of ability, not morality.

If someone is not able to do something, it is not a moral judgement to assume they cannot be trusted to do it safely. If they are, they can. It's important to remove sentimental attachments from the concept of trust, because trust is simply a measure of ability. There are things that none of us could be trusted to do (a professional ballet dance, for example), and that does not mean there is anything wrong with us (unless we're professional ballet dancers). NOBODY is 100% 'trustworthy' because nobody can be competent at dong everything. EVERYONE is 'trustworthy' in the things that they are competent at doing.

To find out what someone can be trusted to do, you need to know them really well. That includes yourself.


 

Core skills for emotional stability

1. Recognizing healthy emotion

An inability to recognize real emotion leaves us at the mercy of sentiment. Without healthy emotional empathy we are effectively emotionally 'tone deaf'. We need to hunt down and model examples of healthy emotions.

2. Autonomous motivation

Has your 'get up and go' got up and went? Evoking emotions and inspiring ourselves in the pursuit of a goal is essential for paying attention, for self-motivation and for creativity. We should be taking increasing responsibility for how we feel and respond at this stage in NH.

3. Understanding how the emotional system can be hijacked by anxiety

Awareness of how the emotional system works gives us the details of how to interact with it. We have explored this to some extent in this tutorial and will continue to look into it in T10.

4. Practising emotional direction/management

Handling emotions so they are appropriate and interactive is an ability that builds on awareness of how the emotional system works. Emotional self-control, and the ability to delay 'instant' gratification and control impulsiveness, underlie accomplishment of every sort. The ability to soothe oneself, to shake of gnawing anxiety, gloom or irritability are basic emotional abilities that are meant to be a part of natural human intelligence development. It doesn't matter if we've been denied them in the past; we can learn them now.

5. Self assessment -know yourself emotionally

Recognizing a feeling 'as it happens' in real time is the axis of our power in self direction. The better we know your own responses, the better we can direct them in future.

6. Interaction/ handling relationships

This is mainly about skill in understanding and responding effectively to emotions and sentiments in others, and social competence, and we'll be exploring that in tutorial 10.


Each of these domains represents a body of habit and response that with the correct moves can be improved upon, moving from immature action/reaction behavior into more mature and successful interactive behavior.

 

***

Appreciations

Much of the research for this tutorial was inspired by online conversations with members of NHA. Many thanks to all of you for great useful feedback and most especially LeScal, for those long long emails and discussions (it was worth it dude!) : )

****

 

 


 

Footnotes, Refs & Answers

[1] Toshiyuki Nakagaki; "Japan scientists hope slime holds intelligence key." December 28th, 2011. http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-12-japan-scientists-slime-intelligence-key.html

slime mold fun:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3z_mdaQ5ac&feature=related

www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZUQQmcR5-g

[2] Professor Zafar Bashir, Dr Clea Warburton and Dr Douglas Caruana, "Study provides potential explanation for mechanisms of associative memory." December 13th, 2011. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-12-potential-explanation-mechanisms-associative-memory.html

[3] Dr D'Armond Speers; http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2391707/posts

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quorum_sensing

[5] Joseph E. LeDoux (2008), Scholarpedia, 3(4):2698. doi:10.4249/scholarpedia.2698

[6] http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-king-s-breakfast/

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Colwyn Trevarthen: What Is It Like To Be a Person Who Knows Nothing? -Defining the Active Intersubjective Mind of a Newborn Human Being.

Willett Kempton: The Rhythmic Basis of Interactional Microsynchrony

William S Condon: The Relation of Interactional Synchrony to Cognitive and Emotional Processes

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***

ANSWERS

Answer to "See which network automatically takes on a puzzle"

You build a 3D pyramid, using the plasticine or whatever to hold the sticks together. If you tried to solve this with N2, spatial manipulation and pattern-matching, you probably found you couldn't. It takes N3 and imagination to apply the concept of 3 dimensions to a 2D pattern. The initial pattern you are told to make primes your brain for thinking in 2D, and it takes practice to automatically apply lateral thinking. However, it is a skill that can be learned.


Answers to Transmitter/behavior associations

In doing these exercises you may have thought that in some cases all the transmitters are necessary at different times during different parts of the task, and you'd be right. All that's required at this level is that you get to know which main ones are involved with motivating what sort of behaviors.

(a) Self-grooming behavior : (Possibly) ACh (body) + GABA (brain); Serotonin + Cortisol

You may need to stop the bird flying around, slow it down and reduce its body and mind activity, for that you'd need GABA and (bodily) ACh. If it's already sitting still, you need to make it feel disgusted with its grubby feathers and aware that dirt is dangerous, so you need serotonin + cortisol. It is going to be grooming itself (as opposed to others), so you don't need any 'cooperation' commands. The grooming stimulus must be programmed to stop cortisol release and increase serotonin, allowing the bird to experience comfort, sensory pleasure and the relaxation response when it is comfortable and clean.

(b) nest-making behavior : NE (body & brain) + Glu (brain) + ACh (body & brain) + DA + OT

You need lots of bodily motion, so you need NE in the ANS and CNS, Glu, and DA. The birds have to spread out and hunt for building-materials (DA), then slow down and gather together their materials into a nest construct (ACh in ANS and CNS). They will need focus and duration for a timed ongoing procedure, tool use, plus cooperation and synchronized working with a mate (ACh in the CNS) and they need trust and ongoing pair-bonding with the mate to maintain motivation (OT).

(c) defending young from a predator : NE (body) + Glu (brain) + DA + Cortisol

You need NE & Glu for speed of both body and mind. You need DA & Cortisol for alarm and defensive behavior.

(d) chasing prey : NE (body) + Glu (brain) + DA + ACh

You need NE & Glu for speed of both body and mind. You need DA for desire and ACh for focus.

(e) showing young how to fly NE (body) + Glu (brain) + DA+ ACh (CNS) + Oxytocin

You need NE & Glu for speed of both body and mind. You need DA to get the birds motivated to spread out and stretch their skills, ACh for cooperation and focusing on nurturing young, and OT for bonding, modeling and empathy.

 

You can also maybe think of other transmitters that might be necessary in these procedures, but these are the main ones.


 

Answers to 'Rules into commands'

 

golden rules

possible commands

If the brain doesn’t get what it needs, the mind won’t do what you want.

IF you don't get what you need, THEN send stress signals

Behave as though it’s happening, and the brain will think it’s happening.

IF something is perceived, THEN assume it's happening

You become more like whatever you are surrounded by

Adapt to better fit in with whatever you are surrounded by

Cells that fire together, wire together

IF cells fire together, THEN wire them together

Know yourself

Initiate feedback-guided self-diagnostic

Always do things in the right order.

Read commands in the order they are presented

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 14:04