Psychotherapy and Neuroscience

Future Direction

Back in 2002 I had a conversation with a neuroscientist, Dr. B.A. Vogt, about the cingulate cortex. He indicated at that time that he believed that an intensive study of the cingulate cortex could potentially generate an understanding of how the brain processes information. Over time I have come to understand and appreciate the wisdom of his words.

We have since ceased our association in part due to methodological differences. I believed that the cingulate cortex could not be understood in isolation of its interactions with the medial temporal lobe and other prefrontal structures like the insula and orbitofrontal cortex. I also believed that concentrating studies on the anterior cingulate cortex would be beneficial for understanding the human experience due to its critical role in modulating emotion, facilitating extinction of stress, and in fostering a sense of theory of mind. Finally in addition I believed that studying the role of the anterior ingulate cortex and medial temporal lobe during the stress response, psychotherapeutic processes, and ontogenetic development could help to resolve potential areas of confusion as well as help to link together different seemingly diverse concepts.

I have approached my neuroscience studies with the perspective of trying to isolate processes that can holistically describe certain concepts to bridge commonalties between concepts and ultimately neuroscience research findings. I have found that the anterior cingulate cortex is a critical component of the consolidation process. The earliest manifestation of consolation processes is evidenced in the most caudal part of the anterior cingulate cortex, the midcingulate cortex, and concludes in its most rostroventral regions. It is interesting that neuroimaging findings support this hypothesis, namely that theory of mind tasks center neuroimaging activations in the rostral and/or ventral regions of the anterior cingulate cortex. This topic was referenced in the final document of this web site’s Ontogenetic Development section.

This next section is under construction. When complete it will examine in greater detail neural activity underlying stress-related consolidation processes, the impact of stress related consolidation processes on psychiatric and physical disease, etc.