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Neurohacking - Tutorials
Written by NHA   
Friday, 10 April 2009 16:31
Article Index
Neurohacking Tutorial 2 - N1 & N2 + Self Assessment
New Perspective On Mental Health
Sleep and Food
Epigenetics and Input Control
Summary and Exercices
All Pages



A New Perspective On Mental Health


In tutorial 1 we looked at some of the main changes in what we now know about the brain and intelligence. Here we’ll take a brief look at what the new scientific discoveries have told us about the nature of mental health.

Consider what's changed: we now know that the quality and quantity of brain cell connections we can develop determines not only our intelligence but also our personality overall and ultimately our mental health. Most importantly, we know that the quality and quantity of connections is not fixed, but can be increased by pursuing the correct behaviors to stimulate their development, or decreased by giving them unhealthy input or no input at all.

The hard part of this discovery to take for some researchers is the revelation of how easy it is to accidentally damage intelligence by misusing or not using the brain, but that’s good news to neurohackers because it teaches us more about what to avoid!

The concept of ‘mental health’ has also changed fundamentally because of this knowledge, but not everyone is yet aware of this. When the previous generation of neuroscientists were students, (not too long ago), ‘mental health’ was basically about deciding who was ‘sane’ or ‘insane’, and this was portrayed by medical science [rather short-sightedly] as a simple polarity. Either you were sane, or you weren’t.

You were either strolling along on the top of the cliff of sanity, or you had ‘gone over the edge’ or fallen, or jumped, or been pushed off it; you either ‘got the plot’ or you had ‘lost the plot on drugs, man’; granddad either ‘still had all his marbles’ or had ‘lost his marbles, poor old thing’.

Neuroscience has progressed a heck of a lot since then, partly because some researchers began to ask the sorts of questions that most people never even thought about –like, where and why and how and when did granddad drop the first marble, and, how many marbles did granddad start out with, and how many must we lose before we are, effectively, a marble-free zone, and whether that was inevitable, and whether we couldn’t increase our marble stash, and so on…

Way back then, not only did we not have any of the tech to find much of this out; there was also a certain degree of trepidation about the research itself. ’Most people’ includes ‘most scientists’ [scientists are people too] and I’m not sure that most people even wanted to think about whether they personally might have dropped a couple of marbles already during situations of personal chronic stress, let alone contemplate the possibility that they might not be able to pick them up again.

Also, before the advent of fMRI et al, we did not have the ability to properly show the development of mental dysfunction, and consequently we could not detect it until it became relatively severe. We recognized ‘depression’ and ‘bipolar disorder’ as mental problems but we were not able to see the precursors (what changes lead to these conditions) and consequently we did not grasp the true nature of mental health itself, because it turned out to be not a polarity at all but a 'sliding scale' balance that can go 'out of the zone' in either direction; very much like the health of the body.


“You’ve been down that road Neo. You know exactly where it ends”

(Trinity, “The Matrix”)

We now know that people do not just ‘become depressed’ or ‘go senile’, there is a series of traceable changes towards and away from these states, based on habits of thought and behavior, all the way from total mental health to total mental dysfunction. Dysfunction begins when these changes lead us outside of the green zone. Development and repair occur when the changes move us closer to the zone or keep us in the zone.

Networks can stop working properly and decline for a long time [sometimes years] without you or anybody else noticing any change and before you show any outward symptoms of malfunction, unless you know what you are looking for.

Now that researchers do know what to look for, we can assess the health of a particular brain by looking at and assessing the kind of behaviors displayed by the individual right now, because we know where those behaviors lead –towards or away from entelechy. Thus if we take the right steps, we can improve performance and prevent decline.



Another area that has experienced much new discovery lately is neurotransmission (the role of brain chemicals in signaling, thought, mood and interaction). The most important and useful brain chemicals a neurohacker can know about are neurotransmitters. They are the chemicals that signal cells, they make up part of that all-important 'inner environment'.

Most transmitters are produced by the first three networks. A transmitter is important wherever it is used as well as where it is released, and many neurotransmitters are used all over the brain. This is why, if insufficient amounts of transmitter are made by just one network, the whole brain will be deficient, so we learn which bits to hack to get our transmitters back into balanced production.

Transmitters released in the brain and hormones released by the body also have optimal effect on the brain only if they have somewhere to go. For example, if the network for receiving any chemical is very sparse, no matter how much of the chemical is produced it will have little effect on the brain! This is why it is important to have all your networks developed enough to do their job well.

That doesn’t mean brain size is the important thing though! (Einstein had a notably small brain.) It is the density of networks that matters, and that is about how many connections each network can make. And how many transmitters can use them. The more connections, the more sites for receiving and sending transmitters, and this is what gives your brain faster processing speed and better multitasking [parallel processing] skills.

Here’s a list of the networks, together with some of the main transmitters they use. Don’t worry if you know nothing about neurotransmitters yet; you’ll get used to what they do as we’re going along, because we’ll remind you, probably until you are really sick of it.


  • Network 1 – Serotonin, Acetylcholine
  • Network 2 – Dopamine, Norepinephrine
  • Network 3 – Oxytocin, Cortisol
  • Network 4 – Acetylcholine, Dopamine
  • Network 5 – Norepinephrine, Serotonin
  • Network 6 –  Endorphins, ACTH 


Other substances as well as neurotransmitters, such as glucose, Omega 3 fatty acids [and some things as simple as water], are constantly needed by the entire brain. Your overall diet should be providing these basics, but no matter what you eat or what supplements you take you cannot make or use sufficient amounts of neurotransmitters without having sufficiently developed networks to do so. 

Replacing transmitters or stimulating receivers with drugs can work to improve your state of mind and intelligence to some extent in the short term. But the only long-term way to keep transmitters balanced and improve your brain is to get it naturally fit and keep it that way.


What Happens If Things Go Wrong?


Below is a diagram that we are going to use a lot. You should sketch or copy it in your Captain's log.


Map of Networks as Seen From Above



This is a schematic map (not a literal portrayal) of brain networks. The brain is 3-dimensional, and we are restricted to 2-D, so we have had to ‘flatten’ the structure to show the relationships of networks from underneath and on top. The numbers of the networks are placed roughly where network cores are if we took a slice across the brain from ear to ear (the front of the brain is at the top.)

This is the ‘ideal’ version of the map with all colored networks fully functional.

As we said in tutorial 1, usually there are only two ways in which networks can go wrong. Either [nonuse] some networks are wasting away doing nothing, or [wronguse] one or more networks are doing the wrong things instead of what they should be doing, which confuses and slows down all the other departments and also wastes a lot of time. Both are pretty harmful, because both lead to degradation in the end.

Perhaps surprisingly, nonuse and wronguse usually happen together. Here’s why:

Nonuse can lead to wronguse: Every little neuron is like a member of your ‘starship’ crew; a valuable employee. When any network gets low input, less exercise and less nutrients it does less work, and that network slowly becomes 'downsized' (because resources (cells and nutrients) are removed from networks if they’re idle for any length of time). This is plasticity, enabling the brain to adapt, but whenever some networks are sparse the rest of the networks are left with a heavier workload. They take over more and more functions they are not designed for (they begin wronguse) and the neglected networks with the least input (whole sections of your ship!) begin to close down. All the abilities, applications and skills they would have provided inevitably go down with them. -And that means we lose those abilities and we get dumber!

Wronguse can lead to nonuse: When a network starts dealing with the wrong information and doing the wrong things, it gets big ideas about itself and its own importance and tries to take over the whole ship. It begins to believe [and so do we, because dominant networks dominate thinking] that it can run things entirely on its own, and that its way of doing things is the only valid way that there is. It diverts all the information and abilities of all the other departments into the service of its own agenda via spreading ‘thought propaganda’, and actively discourages us to use any departments it doesn’t understand by labeling them either ‘unimportant’ or ‘dangerous’ (these fall into nonuse).

Eventually the rogue network does the equivalent of mutiny and takes command of the ship. This is where mental problems begin; when a part of the ‘machine’ is trying to run the whole machine but has already unknowingly shut down many of the other parts!

This is what is referred to in Matrix Theory as being ‘stuck in a Matrix’; and Personality theory calls the associated mental state “incongruity”.

(If you want to know more about this before going on, read “Biological psychology & personality theory: the basics”; in the Basics section of the library. If you want to know more about Matrix theory see the 'Theory & Research' section of the library).

Becoming stuck seriously limits our intelligence, because our talents are slowly restricted to the thoughts, interests, memories and abilities of a single brain network, and our awareness narrows down along with it so that we do not see that we are missing anything. So ‘wrong use’ of some departments also leads to ‘non-use’ of others!

One main reason this very common problem starts is due to a change of blood flow to different parts of your brain. This can happen because some networks have been developed in the wrong order (due to past nonuse & wronguse), or it can happen for chemical reasons (some neurochemicals and hormones increase or decrease the blood flow to certain parts of the brain).

This is how anxiety has such a powerful effect on thinking. The hormones it produces reduce blood flow to frontal networks, making it harder for your conscious mind to think clearly; and increasing blood flow to muscles and the skeletal system.

There are classic patterns of nonuse/wronguse. By far the most common two are colloquially known as “Frontloading” and “Rearloading”.

Any combination of front nets in wronguse and rear nets in nonuse is ‘frontloading’. Below are some examples of typical frontloading:


In these maps, colored nets are in wronguse and white nets in nonuse. 

Any combination of rear nets in wronguse and front nets in nonuse is 'rearloading'. Below are some examples of typical rearloading:


In these maps, colored networks are in wronguse and white networks are in nonuse.


The brain is meant to function as a whole. Our thoughts and memories must be selected from all our experience; not just one section of it. Remember, shutting down a network cuts off access to any long term memories it is storing and any processing tasks it can do! Most networks by themselves are shallow and rather close-minded, unable to attend to or understand (and eventually even to perceive) anything unless it is relevant to themselves and their own particular processes.

When one or two networks try to take over everything, general anxiety disorders and personality disorders will eventually emerge, because the mind actually gets anxious when it can't work properly, but in a 'catch 22' it cannot work properly when it’s anxious!

Think of your starship’s crew, down below, if they are getting danger signals. Front nets (sections) are closed down by anxiety… the crew below would be sending the bridge a message like “Warning! We are getting signals that things are about to go badly wrong!” But they don't get the information to tell them what is wrong, why, where or how (only front nets could work that out). Unaware that the problem is internal, the unsuspecting Captain naturally focuses on events outside the ship looking for the cause.

When communication with front nets goes down, we are not aware of our state of mind in a conscious manner. We usually blame the anxiety on something on the outside, and this is the root of paranoia. But the unconscious brain is aware when it’s “being pushed in the wrong direction” and slipping outside the entelechy zone, and it knows this will have eventual serious effects on the whole brain, so it keeps sending the hormonal danger signals.


Q: How can such a small problem escalate into such a big issue?

A: A big part of the problem of unbalanced networks concerns the fact that every brain network uses its own “favorite” chemicals as transmitters, and we need a balance of these brain chemicals in order to maintain a ‘balanced’ mind, personality and awareness.

If any network is under-used, we will get a deficiency in the particular transmitters it produces and uses, and this will in turn cause the loss of the ‘receptor’ tissue in all other networks that use those transmitters waiting in vain to receive them.

This is why many psychiatric disorders can be successfully treated by drugs either replacing or enhancing these chemicals. The great majority of medication for psychiatric disorders works this way [the chemical changes caused by SSRIs, for example, actually cause new brain-growth in network 3, replacing some of the receptor connections that have been lost and even growing whole new cells].

Sometimes, the brain’s unconscious awareness of a neurotransmitter imbalance results in people unknowingly ‘self-medicating’ by using tobacco, coffee or alcohol, or other drugs that influence brain chemicals’ production, because many recreational drugs also target neurotransmission and replace the signals that anxiety has blocked, or reduce anxiety hormones themselves, speeding up repair and growth.

Neurotransmitters are designed to work together, so by exercising all of your networks you will enable the production of all the essential neurotransmitters for your health and intelligence, and keep your personality as well-balanced as your brain chemistry.

Exercising networks also improves your body health –because neurotransmitters control many hormones as well (that’s how psychological problems can cause physical symptoms such as headaches or raised blood pressure.)

Whatever the first symptoms, the results of unbalanced brain activity always eventually manifests as loss of brain tissue. Loss of a little will just slow us down, and if it’s just for a short time or due to something like injury, we can always build it back up again. But slow, permanent ongoing loss will eventually lead to irreversible loss of memory, and from there to confusion and senility. That’s why it’s important to prevent rather than cure!

You don’t have to learn all about neurotransmitters in order to protect your health, but you should be aware that most psychological disorders begin with the initial wrong use of networks and an associated imbalance of neurotransmitters.

Most people start out in NH with some network imbalance, but fortunately, any degradation can be reversed. We can shape up our brains and get them fit, even if we already have some problems when we begin. It does take some time and effort to achieve mental fitness and high intelligence, and obviously the more ‘out of shape’ you are, the more you’ll have to do, but then again, the more you have to gain!




To summarize; you would be very unusual if you started out in neurohacking with an optimally performing brain, because as far as we know, nobody does. We all begin in varying stages of fitness, both physically and mentally.

Mental health is a balance, much like physical health. It is obvious to us that there is a long, sliding scale in physical health & fitness between, say, an obese sedentary alcoholic smoker, or a person with serious malnutrition, and an athlete in top form! Most of us are a bit vague about where exactly we think a line could be drawn between being fit and unhealthy, but most of us would say we are ‘around average’ physical fitness most of the time, and that’s probably fair enough unless you are Superman or seriously ill.

The equivalent of absolute physical health for intelligence is optimal mental function, (and then the possibility of augmenting that to become mentally ‘superfit’; -the equivalent of a mental athlete). It's obvious that in just the same way we vary physically, everyone starts out in a different place on that mental ‘fitness scale’ in the beginning, and everyone has different experiences, and everyone develops at a different pace. So there is no ‘average’ intelligence and there is no point where intelligence can be said to be ‘fixed’ or ‘finished’, and there is no 'average' mental health, because all of these things change throughout our lives.

So there is no ‘average’ neurohacker and no 'usual' goal in NH apart from getting into the entelechy zone, the 'journey' itself is the most important thing so you must select what you need and what is useful to you as we are going along –that is how you tailor this program for yourself personally. Your FA (next tutorial) will tell you what sort of shape your brain is in, and that will guide you in what exercises to select and what hacks you can do to improve.

We do all benefit from the same basics, however, so now we’re going to have an in-depth look at the first golden rule.



Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 12:58