“When this ability is dysfunctional, it causes some of the most debilitating symptoms of psychiatric illness: intrusive memories, images, hallucinations, ruminations, and pathological and consistent concerns. These are all key symptoms of mental illnesses such as PTSD, schizophrenia, depression and anxiety.
In many ways, the ability to stop negative thinking is similar to that of physical restraint. “We would not be able to survive without controlling our actions,” says Anderson. “We have a lot of quick reflexes that are often helpful, but we have to control these actions and prevent them from happening. “
Anderson thinks humans also have a “similar mechanism” to stop unwanted thoughts.
The prefrontal cortex, or CPF, is known as the “executive function” of the brain. CPF is involved in the planning of complex behaviors, attention, critical thinking, problem solving, self-awareness, decision-making, social cognition and memory. job.
CPF can also be thought of as the “control center” of the brain, regulating other areas of the brain such as the motor cortex and the hippocampus.
Only recently has it been discovered that an area of the CPF also plays a vital role in stopping unwanted thoughts.
Anderson’s research was published in Nature Communications on November 3, 2017.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (measuring brain chemistry), the researchers observed participants’ brains as they attempted to suppress their thoughts on a subject. given task.
Spectroscopy feedback has shown that “the ability to inhibit unwanted thoughts relies on a neurotransmitter, a chemical in the brain that allows messages to pass between cells, known as GABA. “
GABA is the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, which helps regulate the activity of exposure emitters (“excitators”), such as glutamate and dopamine.
Here is a summary of Anderson’s findings, point by point:
– GABA concentrations in the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for memory formation, determine a person’s ability to inhibit unwanted thoughts.
– The suppression of undesirable thoughts depends as much on the activity of the PFC as on the hippocampus. (This shakes up the trend, as most neuroscientists focus on PFC for such roles.)
People with lower concentrations of GABA in the hippocampus “were less able to suppress (activity) by the prefrontal cortex,” suppressing thinking at a much lower rate.
– Findings from the study may lead to additional perspectives, and potential treatment options, for schizophrenia. (Schizophrenics have hyperactivity in the hippocampus, which is thought to be responsible for hallucinations and other intrusive symptoms.)
SCIENTISTS REVEAL HOW TO TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO PREVENT UNDESIRABLE THOUGHTS
You need to increase the levels of GABA
GABA or Gamma-AminoButyric Acid is the most common neurotransmitter in the nervous system because it is involved in the reduction of neuronal activity. It is the only neurotransmitter that is still inhibitory. It is in a way the brake of our nervous system and functions controlled by it.
Since Anderson’s research is very recent, the potential treatments have not been examined yet. However, it is clear that correcting a GABA deficiency, a neurochemical imbalance, may be helpful in suppressing unwanted thoughts.
Here are some known GABA boosters:
– Meditation: Calming your busy mind and focusing on deep breaths can help increase GABA levels. Try meditating for 10 to 15 minutes to get started.
– Yoga: Maintaining focus on the present moment can help boost GABA levels. In addition, yoga focuses on deep breathing, which helps reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.