Why your brain creates trauma | Lisa Feldman Barrett

From Big Think.

This interview is an episode from @The-Well, our publication about ideas that inspire a life well-lived, created with the @JohnTempletonFoundation.

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Aided by best-selling psychology books of the last decade, such as Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score, discussions about trauma and how to deal with it have entered popular public discourse. From police departments to school classrooms, trauma-informed approaches have taken center stage.

But leading neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett challenges the popular notion that trauma resides solely in the body. She asserts that trauma is rooted in the brain’s predictions and the construction of our experiences. When an adverse experience becomes traumatic, the brain heavily weighs and anticipates that experience in its future predictions. This ongoing prediction and re-experiencing of the traumatic event strengthens the neural connections associated with it, making the predictions more likely to occur in the future.

Rather than focusing on the body as the site of healing, she suggests that changing the brain’s models of prediction is what needs to be addressed to break free from the cycle of trauma. By understanding the role of predictions and the brain’s plasticity, Feldman Barrett offers hope for transforming traumatic experiences and finding new, lasting paths to healing.

0:00 Why your brain creates trauma
1:44 Does your body keep the score?
2:53 Effective treatments for trauma
4:33 Trauma IS in your head (but everything else is too)

Read the video transcript ► https://bigthink.com/the-well/neuroscience-of-trauma/?utm_source=youtube&utm_medium=video&utm_campaign=youtube_description


About Lisa Feldman Barrett:
Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett is among the top 1% most-cited scientists in the world, having published over 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Dr. Barrett is a University Distinguished Professor of psychology at Northeastern University with appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, where she is Chief Science Officer for the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior. She is the recipient of a NIH Director’s Pioneer Award for transformative research, a Guggenheim Fellowship in neuroscience, the Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Association for Psychological Science (APS) and from the Society for Affect Science (SAS), and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association (APA). She is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Canada, and a number of other honorific societies. She is the author of How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, and more recently, Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain.


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