Neuroscience and sensitivity – our superior colliculus and amygdala



A news item by ScienceDaily reported on research that may explain more about the neuroscience that underlies high sensitivity.

brainscan“Researchers have discovered that a primitive region of the brain responsible for sensorimotor control also has an important role in regulating emotional responses to threatening situations.

“This region appears to work in concert with another structure called the amygdala to regulate social and emotional behavior.”

The story continues, “Georgetown University Medical Center researchers have recently discovered that activation of a primitive brain region, the deep layers of superior colliculus (DLSC), elicits defensive behaviors such as an exaggerated startle, hypervigilance, cowering, and escape…. in addition to triggering defensive behaviors, the activation of DLSC leads to a decrease in affiliative social interactions.”

Like mainstream media – and probably psychiatry in general – this news story was framed in terms of dysfunction: “Researchers say it is possible that a prolonged activation of this defense system may lead to emotional disorders” including post traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders.

[From Two Brain Structures Key To Emotional Balance Especially In Threatening Situations, ScienceDaily Oct. 23, 2009.]

As we know who have one, a highly sensitive nervous system is not a “disorder.”

Ashley JuddBut that does not mean there can be very real medical and mental health issues that may be increased with high sensitivity, such as anxiety, and PTSD – which can include very disruptive or disabling behaviors, emotions, and another kind of over-activation of the nervous system: hypervigilance.

That is something actor Ashley Judd experienced.

She had a “very unsafe” and disruptive childhood, and became what she calls a “hypervigilant child.”

From post Developing creativity: hypervigilance and highly sensitive people

Related post: Highly sensitive people: latent inhibition and creativity

More neuroscience articles

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Originally posted 2009-10-28 19:54:43.

      
  
  12.07.14   By Douglas Eby
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    Neuroscience and Sensitivity: the Amygdala | Highly Sensitive

  2. […] see post Neuroscience and sensitivity – our superior colliculus and amygdala – “Georgetown University Medical Center researchers discovered that activation of a […]

  3. […] article highlights brain studies that show specific parts of the brain that activate our defensive […]

  4. […] the more scientific among you scoff too quickly, know that there is solid science behind this idea. Additionally, the body fluids of Highly Sensitive Kids contain more cortisol (the […]

  5. […] related post: Neuroscience and sensitivity – our superior colliculus and amygdala    |      |    Print This Post […]

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  7. I was a hyper-vigilant child who lived with a gestapo-like mother. I became a hyper-vigilant adult who catered to the needs of others in order to survive. Now I am, or am trying to be, my true self.

    I used creative/therapeutic writing as a tool to understand the confusing, contradictory world I lived in as a child. I am amazed at how the brain can work to protect a person and help them to heal.

    I am glad that research is being done on this subject. I know there are many people out there like me. My heart goes out to them. I know their pain.

  8. […] article highlights brain studies that show specific parts of the brain that activate our defensive […]

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