Updated: Apr 13, 2022
Learning is something that people usually associate with making a conscious and concerted effort. Images of sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures are typically evoked by the mere thought of having to learn something. The brain however, operates according to completely different mechanisms than our conscious minds. Learning in actuality is something the brain is always engaged in. The human brain is wired to process incalculable amounts of incoming information during one’s waking life, as well as even in sleep.
Everything from the temperature of the environment to the presence of potential danger, the brain and nervous system is continuously bombarded by an amount of data that the conscious mind is technically incapable of processing. It has evolved this capability in order to organize better survival strategies in the context of an ever changing environment. When a certain strategy reaps good results, it is then appropriated as the skill to be employed every time the same set of life conditions are encountered. This is the most fundamental learning that takes place without requiring the effort of the conscious mind.
As it often happens, there are strategies that our brains pick up along the way, that at one time had an important function, but eventually become outdated. What is generally referred to as trauma, are nothing but strategies that were once necessary to survive a challenging environment, eventually become dysfunctional in a different environment. Hyper-vigilance and anxiety are important survival tools in a war, but detrimental during times of peace.
The more survival advantage any single brain strategy offers, the more ingrained the strategy becomes. The more ingrained it becomes, the more difficult it can be to replace that strategy with another one, that is more suitable to someone’s current context.
Neurofeedback is a fantastic tool that uses simple sensory cues to guide the brain out of one strategy into another. Over time, old and dysfunctional strategies are replaced by this very simple ability that the brain has to regulate itself. ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, addiction, and PTSD are just a few of the many dysregulations that can be corrected by the employment of neurofeedback.