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The Psychotherapist's Essential Guide to the BrainThe Psychotherapist's Essential Guide to the Brain

The Psychotherapist's Essential Guide to the Brain

The Psychotherapist's Essential Guide to the Brain

The Psychotherapist’s Essential Guide to the Brain is a 147 page full-colour illustrated guide for psychotherapists describing the most relevant brain science for today’s mental health professionals.

Country:
Australia
Language:
English
Publisher:
This Side of the Cross Pty Ltd
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IN THIS ISSUE

access_time3 min.
introduction

The Psychotherapist’s Essential Guide to the Brain provides an overview of the essential parts and functions of the brain that every modern-day therapist should be familiar with. Written in accessible language and consolidating a large body of neuroscientific knowledge, this handy “beginner’s guide” forms a practical and accessible introduction to brain science for psychotherapists. The current chapter lays the groundwork for a big-picture view of how the brain functions, providing essential reference points from which the reader may go on to develop an understanding of what is happening in the brains of clients, as well as in his or her own. The contemporary psychotherapist has access to a more sophisticated model of mental health than ever before, yet key elements of that model entail an understanding of the neural functions that…

access_time5 min.
the divided brain

Iain McGilchrist, in his noteworthy book The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (2009), describes the asymmetry of the brain and the very different natures of the left and right hemispheres. This horizontal understanding of the mental system, as opposed to the vertical triune perspective, gives us insight into the distinctly different yet complementary functions of the two hemispheres. In short, the right hemisphere handles broad attention (what we attend to comes first to us through the right hemisphere); is good at making connections so that we can appreciate the wholeness of dynamic structures and relationships that change over time; is attuned to emotion; and is empathic, intuitive, and moral. In contrast, the left hemisphere has narrow attention; is good at deconstructing…

access_time4 min.
three layers

Awell-known model of the human brain is that described by neuroscientist Paul MacLean as the triune brain (MacLean, 1990). This evolutionary view of the brain describes three main regions in an evolutionary hierarchy: the primitive “reptilian” complex (the brainstem), the “palaeomammalian” complex (the limbic system), and the “neomammalian” complex (the cortex). The reptilian complex is fully developed at birth, while the palaeomammalian complex is partly developed and continues to develop during early childhood, and the neomammalian complex is mostly underdeveloped at birth and is the last part of the triune brain to develop (The Neuropsychotherapy Institute, 2014c). The implications of the model are that the survival instincts of the palaeomammalian complex (the limbic system) are significantly developed during the early years of life, distinct from the later-developing cognitive processes of…

access_time6 min.
amazingly networked

White matter fibre architecture from the Connectome Scanner dataset. The fibres are colour-coded by direction: red = left–right, green = anterior–posterior, blue = ascending–descending (RGB = XYZ). Courtesy of the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging and the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Consortium of the Human Connectome Project. www.humanconnectomeproject.org The human brain has about 100,000 miles of white matter (bundles of myelinated axons) shooting electrochemical signals down 100 billion neurons through 100 trillion synaptic connections1—we are spectacularly connected! The pattern of neural connectivity in our brains has long captured the attention of neuroanatomists. It can be described at several levels of scale: the individual synaptic connections that link individual neurons, networks connecting neuronal populations, and entire brain regions linked by white-matter highways. Mapping the large-scale connectivity within and between brain regions is…

access_time7 min.
neurons

Our genes provide an organizational map for the development of our brains. While some designation of the place and function of neurons is fixed by coding genes, other functional aspects are subject to the influence of experience, in the form of non-coding genes that make up the so-called “nurture” part of our genetic expression (The Neuropsychotherapy Institute, 2014a). Our genetic blueprint, along with epigenetic (experience dependent) expression of genes and memory formation, creates a complex neural communication system throughout the nervous system, which is itself a complexity of synaptic/dendritic connections modulated by neurochemicals. The nervous system has two main divisions of cells: nerve cells (neurons), and glial cells (glia). Glial cells have traditionally been recognized as a kind of support network for neurons, providing many essential functions to facilitate the neural…

access_time2 min.
glia

The brain contains two major classes of cells: neurons and glia. While both are neural cells, conventionally, the fundamental difference between the two classes has been understood to be that neurons are electrically excitable, whereas glia are non-excitable. Various types of glial cells make up about 90% of all cells in the human brain. In the central nervous system, they are referred to as macroglial or neuroglial cells, and can be categorized into three types: astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and ependymal cells (Verkhratsky & Butt, 2007). Glial cells have traditionally been regarded as passive supporting cells. The name glia is from Greek, literally meaning “glue”. Rudolf Ludwig Karl Virchow (1821–1902), who coined the term for neuroscience, thought of glia as a sort of “nerve putty”—a connective tissue void of any cellular elements (Verkhratsky…

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