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Trauma Development and the Brain #3

The Neuroscience of Trauma and Neglect and the Vital Role of Neurofeedback in Treatment

In this third conversation, about implicit memory, Ruth Lanius and Sebern Fisher continue to explore therapy and trauma.

In particular, research carried out by Dr. Ruth Lanius and her group has focused on the way traumatic images trigger the brains of traumatized people.  Images are presented for a few milliseconds only and cannot be consciously perceived. However, the brain registers and responds.

Researchers saw activation of reptilian structures, the PAG and the Superior Colliculus as well as striking effects on heart rate variability, a reliable measure of emotional reactivity.  These brain structures help an individual react reflexively to threat and as part of our innate threat response are a key component of the implicit memory system. As participants will learn, the neurophysiological response of those affected by trauma and those not affected is entirely different.

This research certifies what trauma survivors and trauma therapists already know: all too much of the trauma nightmare is lived out beneath conscious awareness and beyond conscious control.

So what do these findings mean for treatment? How do we quiet the nightmare as it becomes more consciously available? Ruth and Sebern will discuss these questions and encourage you to participate in what is always an interesting and lively conversation. Dr. Lanius will present her research and Sebern Fisher will focus on the implications of her findings for neurofeedback and psychotherapy, as well as for body-oriented interventions and mindfulness practices.

This is the third in a series of two-hour conversations exploring new neuroscience and its implications for therapy. The discussions focus on how the traumatized brain gives rise to symptoms such as dissociation, balance problems, somatic disturbances and most profoundly the capacity to have a sense of a self and an other.

If you attend the live session, you are eligible for 1CE (APA, NBCC). Link will be sent to you three hours before the conversation starts.

Lectures and conversations with Sebern Fisher and Ruth Lanius illuminate the ground-breaking research from the lab of Ruth Lanius into the impact of trauma on brain, body, and mind.

Sebern Fisher, M.A, BCN is the author of Neurofeedback in the Treatment of Developmental Trauma: Calming the Fear-Driven Brain. Sebern was the Clinical Director of a residential treatment program for severely traumatized youth for 17 years and has worked with developmentally traumatized adults for her 45 year clinical career. She adopted neurofeedback in 1997 after experiencing profound and unexpected responses to it for herself. She has developed several protocols specifically to quiet the fear-driven brain and has written numerous articles and case studies demonstrating the effectiveness of neurofeedback when used in conjunction with trauma therapy. Sebern authored two webinars: Developmental Trauma: New Thinking; New Treatments: New Challenges and The Nature of Forgetting: Dissociation and Neurofeedback.


Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD is one of the leading clinical neuroscience researchers in the study of the traumatized brain and one of the few who has focused her research on the importance of neurofeedback in treatment of trauma. She is the co-author of Healing the Traumatized Self: Consciousness; Neuroscience; Treatment written with Paul Frewen, PhD and co-editor of The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease: The Hidden Epidemic, with Eric Vermetten and Clare Pain. She has published over 150 research articles.


Ruth and Sebern are presently working together on a project to help those who have experienced these histories and the therapists trying to help them to understand the way trauma and neglect impact the brain and how these impacts give rise to the symptoms we so often see in traumatized clients. It is becoming increasingly clear, in great part through the work of these two women that training the brain is an essential part of successful trauma treatment.