Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Watch your brain to feel less pain

There is a well known but ultimately ungrounded myth that deeper probing and understanding of the human brain and behavior threatens our agency and freedom. Here I'll show a fascinating brief presentation intending to conclude otherwise, how it largely increases our elbow room.

Historically, psychotherapy slowly co-evolved with the behavioral and life sciences of their age, generally with a lag of up to two decades. The Gestalt psychoterapists were influenced by trends of Gestalt psychology. The biopsychiatry revolution was only possible due to enormous research in neurochemistry. The relatively recent Schema Therapy emerged from the advances of second generation cognitive science. So, could the technological developments of the Decade Of The Brain grant an analogous novel contribution to mental well-being? Neuroscientist Christopher DeCharms shows that the answer is positive.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging is now sufficiently advanced to allow us to contemplate in real time the underlying neural correlates of our mental life. This level of organization of our behavior is no longer a black box that can only be interfered by neurosurgery. Present knowledge of the patterns of activation of your own brain states can be used to guide your next mental states.

Here's the research paper of deCharm's work on chronic pain patients subjected to Omneuron's fMRI technology (deCharm's company).