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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



“Behave as though it’s happening, and the brain will think it’s happening.” This is not just a golden rule; it’s a master rule that applies to perception and processing itself.

It’s also the secret behind the ‘placebo effect’. When the brain ‘thinks things are happening’, gene transcription factors alter the expression of your genome. So it doesn’t matter if you don’t think you’re highly intelligent already; you can always become so, if you have enough time and you learn what you’re doing, which genes to turn on and how to go about it.

The terms 'epigenetics' and 'proteomics' sound horribly scientific and complicated, but they're not. In effect, turning on the proteome via triggering genes through epigenetics is what you do any time you go to the gym and exercise!

Your unconscious biology doesn’t know about gyms and weights and benches and stuff, it only knows that you are a biological creature whose lifestyle seems to regularly demand periods of increased exertion. Therefore, reasons the genome, the tools for that lifestyle need to be provided, so it churns out the proteins to increase muscle size and upgrade the cardio vascular system.

Biology doesn’t care whether you’re out hunting deer or running on a treadmill, all it knows is that your physical movements are associated with a lifestyle that needs bigger muscles and better circulation, and the signals from your behavior are what is telling the genome to turn on the genes to make the proteins that build and maintain them. You are eliminating the things limiting the body and setting up the conditions for fitness to develop, and it cannot do otherwise.

The genome just responds to chemical signals for ‘needs’. The whole point of epigenetics is that changing conditions triggers different genes. By using anxiety reduction and input control you are eliminating the things limiting the brain and setting up the conditions for intelligence to develop, and it cannot do otherwise.


Input Control

We are used to thinking of the ‘environment’ as meaning “outdoors”, because we talk a lot about nature and ecology and this is where the word gets used, but “environment” really means ‘whatever something is surrounded by’. The environment for a bunch of bacteria in a test tube is whatever liquid they are floating in, and the environment for a brain cell is whatever chemicals it is floating in. If you like you can think of the planet as the ‘overall’ environment and the brain chemistry as the ‘local’ or 'inner' environment for networks.

Brain networks get their input from various places; from your senses obviously, but also from the body and from other networks inside the brain itself. The brain thinks of all these sources as its “environment”.

Changes in the inner environment (your brain chemistry) in response to changes In the overall environment 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.

Environmental effects on learning and memory became apparent in the late Sixties and early Seventies, when Mark Rosenzweig and colleagues examined how manipulating levels of sensory stimulation, exercise and social interaction affected rats’ behavior.

Back then, laboratory rats typically lived in a cage with bedding, food and water but little else. In the enriched environments (EE) that Rosenzweig’s group created, animals got access to a changing roster of things to play with and increased opportunities for socialization and exercise.

The brains of EE rats were larger and they outperformed controls (which were housed in typical cages) in learning and memory tasks. Subsequent work by researchers looking at the cellular level has shown that EE triggers changes in the density of brain networks and upgrades resistance to neurodegenerative disease and learning-related neural activity.

A lot has been discovered in epigenetics since then. Behavioral, cellular and molecular studies have revealed significant effects of enriched environments on our own species, and provided new insights into mechanisms of experience-dependent plasticity, including developing new brain cells (adult neurogenesis) and new brain connections (synaptic plasticity).

For neurohackers, these discoveries have helped explain how a lot of things work, including bio- and neurofeedback, electrical and magnetic stimulation, placebos, dietary and behavioral therapy, and development itself. What we had been doing for all this time with all these input control methods was epigenetics. Epigenetics was the missing link –the thing that explained how “A causes B”, the method by which all these practices were having an effect.

It’s easy to see that the mind learns by interacting with things and copying or practicing them until they become habitual; but what epigenetics told us is that every cell in the brain tries to adapt to everything in its environment; everything it perceives it is surrounded by. The mind discriminates about what we want to remember and learn, but we are still affected by millions of subliminal, unconscious inputs every second of every day.

Because a million little signals change a network, if we select more of the signals deliberately ourselves, we can choose the ones that grow intelligence rather than be subjected to a contradictory and chaotic input. This gave us many new methods of input control.

The mind likes life to make sense, because it should (and we know that unconsciously). We get anxious when it doesn’t seem to. We say things like, “It isn’t fair!”, “It isn’t right!”, and we think things like “There’s something missing”, “It’s all wrong”. Life makes sense when we are in an enriched environment that promotes growth and development, rather than living like bored lab rats. Because we’re intelligent, an enriched environment is where biology expects us to be. If the brain keeps getting messages we haven’t got there yet, it gets confused.

The feeling of “things not being like they should” is one of the causes of chronic unconscious anxiety. On the surface it may only cause confusion, but the thing about brains is, they don’t develop when they don’t feel comfortable with things because if they don’t feel comfortable, they focus on protection, like a ship under attack reroutes main power to defenses. If a mind doesn’t know what’s going on; if life doesn’t make sense in some way, it creates an ‘unknown’ area where “anything could happen”. We don’t feel safe in this state of mind. We doubt our own ability to adapt to change, so change never takes place.

What we do with input control is hack the signals going to the networks. Remember the “pen in your teeth” exercise in tutorial 1, where we made your brain cells believe that something good was going on ‘out there’? That was input control. There are a lot of different types, which you’ll learn about as we’re going along. There’s more info about practical input control in our guide (below).




It is in order to eliminate things limiting the brain and set up the conditions for intelligence to develop that we use anxiety reduction and input control; and you can probably now see the links we were establishing:

Networks / functional analysis / plasticity / epigenetics / anxiety reduction / input control.

We find out what Networks to work on by doing a Functional Analysis. We take advantage of the brain’s Plasticity by using Epigenetics; practising Anxiety Reduction and hacking the genome with Input Control.

That sounds a lot easier, doesn’t it?



NHA Guide to Methods & Technology


What we do and what we think about today shapes our health and ability tomorrow and in the future.

The habits of thought and behavior that we use every day ALL lead to either improving or degrading our mental health, and increasing or decreasing our intelligence.

All of our experiences, from before we are born until the end of our lives continues to push us one way or the other, into or out of balance in terms of overall intelligence and mental ability, and we now know that we can deliberately and beneficially learn how to ‘change our minds’ and improve our intelligence by following habits that we know will improve them, and keeping ourselves in the entelechy zone. The quality of your thoughts, behavior and environment today is known to be a strong determinant in your future health and ability overall. This is why neurohacking can be so effective.

Behavior matters all the time, and it’s the first place to start your input control –your own behavior.

First of all let’s remind you that you’re the Captain, so you must set an example to your crew. You wouldn’t feel inspired to do processing for a grumpy old fart who complained at you all the time, would you? So don’t send these messages to your brain! If you find yourself thinking grumpy thoughts, deliberately do something beneficial instead. Do or watch or listen to something that cheers you up and makes you laugh.


This is a very simple step to take in beginning NH and if you fail to take it you should ask yourself why you are not willing to use your own intelligence and power? What would make a person refuse to change an unpleasant state? Here are some possible reasons:

  • Have you decided that doing this is nonsense and won’t work before you have tried it? If you think this is what you’re doing, ask yourself why would you pre-judge something you haven't tried without any evidence or experience? Is that an intelligent thing to do? Practice anxiety reduction before continuing.

  • Are you unable to think of anything that will cheer you up when you’re down? Make a note to prepare some favorite comedy when you’re in a good mood, and label it “watch when miserable”.

  • Are you too busy to mess about watching movies cheering yourself up? If you feel this way, ask yourself which you prefer: spending time improving your mental health or spending time making it worse? Every extra minute that you are miserable pumps more and more toxins into your brain and body. Choose your priorities! You can stay this ‘busy’ and go senile in your sixties or get a bit less busy now and be mentally sound in your nineties. It’s your life; you choose. (But don’t take too long to decide –or your biology may decide for you).

  • Have you just lost access to your favorite anxiety-reducer? Try something different; you may be surprised. The reason many ‘recreational’ drugs seem to have such a strong effect is not always because of the drugs themselves. The effects of smiling, laughing, dancing and giggling get us even more high, as do many foods we choose to eat when on drugs. If you run out of your favorite thing, try something different but include all the associated things. For example, if you normally like to get stoned, eat munchies and watch a movie, try having a few drinks, eating munchies and watching a movie.

  • Do you feel uncomfortable about breaking familiar habits? Here’s a tip about hacking habits: never give up a habit; always REPLACE IT with something. The example in the ‘food’ section above of a ‘beneficial’ burger is a good example. If you can’t think of anything to replace a harmful habit with, leave it alone for now and practice anxiety reduction. Don’t try input control unless you actually have got better input!


The ideal type of input control replaces something harmful with something beneficial, but it’s quite alright to replace something harmful with something a bit less harmful. It’s a step in the correct direction, and that’s what we’re aiming for; a series of those steps. Once taking those steps is a familiar skill, you’ll have cultivated the habit of causing deliberate change for the better, change will no longer seem such a big thing because your own experience will now have proved to you that it isn’t. Also, you’ll become better at recognizing alternative habits as we go on and you'll find out more about the choices of input control methods.

For now, we’re sticking with sensorimotor and spatial methods because we’re working with networks 1 and 2, and that’s the kind of input they can understand. So start paying attention to your face and your posture and what messages they are sending to your brain. People don’t tend to smile enough for their health unless they are on drugs, so more input control can be practiced here! Smile regularly, even if you feel crap. It doesn’t cost you anything and it can only improve your present state of mind and overall health.

This is not some airy-fairy “let’s all be fabulously happy” in a ‘new age’ type of bouncy fluffy type of activity; it’s hard science. You do ‘x’, and then ‘y’ happens because of your own biology. So we’re not suggesting you should grin wildly at everyone you meet, but even if you start your input control with just a couple of minutes of deliberate smiling in bed each night, it will start to improve your intelligence simply because that’s the way biology works.

[Note: ‘grinning’ with lips closed won’t work so fast, but will work to some extent.]

Some people feel a ‘mood lift’ or calmer right away, others take a few days for it to kick in. This is because everyone’s brain chemistry is different and some people’s levels of anxiety hormones will be lower than others when they first start.

To find your own ‘effective’ level, practise the exercise more frequently until you do notice a difference, then establish a habit of doing a smile exercise once a day. When you have a permanent elevated mood, cut down the number of practices until you find the minimum that keeps you feeling how you want to feel. Then explore for other ways to get into that state of mind, and finally choose the method that works fastest with the least hassle.

Finding the fastest and easiest hacks for you personally is part of your personal plan, and you should keep notes in your NH diary (The Captain’s Log) about what exercises you are trying and what results you get (when you compare them later, choose the most effective ones only).

Using your brain in the ‘right’ way means using habits of thought and behavior that improve your intelligence, and avoiding habits of thought and behavior that decrease your intelligence. Both are important! Scowling doesn’t just make your face look unattractive, it reduces the efficiency of your immune system and if you do it often enough, it causes the release of chemicals that make you feel paranoid, which is a bit of a vicious circle to get stuck in. So remember that. –Looking grumpy is bad for your health.

Remember, everything we do moves us in one direction or the other –towards healthy growth and development or towards decay and deterioration.


Practical Assignment – Lifestyle Assessment

What lifestyle assessment can tell you is how much of your everyday life is spent doing things that you actually like to do. This is important because if you are spending more time on activities you dislike, you will be especially prone to anxiety and hence to neurological [and physical] problems. Once you know about it, you can take steps, however small, to reduce your anxiety level and protect your health.


Q -If our lifestyles have such a huge effect on our behavior, what does all this say about our own concept of personal agency and freedom; 'free will'?

A -The evidence certainly points to a number of things affecting our minds and behavior that are quite outside our conscious awareness! However, the nature of plasticity and the results of biofeedback teach us that we are never ‘stuck with what we started out with’, as long as we know how to change it and we have the intent to change it. Remember, our genome is subject to plasticity as well as our brain. “Destiny” is never fixed, because with increasing awareness we are able to make more deliberate directive choices.

This means the more you increase your intelligence the more free will and autonomy you are likely to have, but you are prevented from being irresponsibly wilful or reckless because your judgment and decision making are maturing too.


Lifestyle Assignment

Make a list of all the activities you spend more than half an hour doing each week [work/school, hobbies, general pursuits].

Now put a letter ‘N’ for ‘no’ beside all those things on the list that you would rather stop doing if you became a billionaire in the morning, and a letter ‘Y’ beside all those things you’d carry on doing regardless.

Here’s an example of somebody else’s list:

  • Working [as a lawyer] N
  • Sleeping Y
  • Playing the guitar Y
  • Watching TV Y/ N?
  • Watching movies Y
  • Masturbating Y
  • Playing with the kids Y
  • Eating & cooking Y/N?
  • Driving my car N
  • Going out for drinks with friends Y
  • Listening to music Y
  • Baths/toilets/grooming etc. Y
  • Housework, cleaning and shopping etc. N


[This person had several ‘no’s in their list, and if you look at the ‘no’ subjects they were in fact what the person spent most of their time doing. The upshot of this lifestyle was that he had bouts of depression, hopelessness, fatigue and apathy on a regular basis. His seems like a fairly ‘normal’ lifestyle so it came as quite a surprise to him that if he didn’t change something, he’d end up with premature senility. His online name; ‘Nowhere Man’, reflected the way he thought about himself and his life; stuck in a rut by obligations he had taken on in the past.

But there was a happy ending to his story…  ‘Nowhere Man’ has now become ‘Jiving Jaguar’. He has changed his work to guitar teacher and part-time DJ, and does freelance legal work for agencies in his spare time. He orders his shopping online and pays a roadie to drive him about. His whole family helps with the housework so they can spend more time with him, because he’s now much more light hearted and fun to be with.

He didn’t achieve any of these material changes by neurohacking, but it was neurohacking that gave him the confidence, ability and skills –the intelligence- that it took for him to make them happen.]




Spiritual Advice


Other people can only show you the doors. You’re the one who has to fly the ship. Taking the first steps, following through, both are equally important.

Forget where you have been, whatever has happened to you, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that you have the power to change things for the better, right here, right now.


"Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing, that we see too late the one that is open."

(Alexander Graham Bell)


"You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear...doubt...disbelief. Free your mind!"

(Morpheus, The Matrix)


Last Updated on Monday, 29 May 2017 12:58