Fire together wire together

Greg Dunn
Greg Dunn

Some months ago I started a course in Medical Neuroscience. highly interested.

I want to be able to understand what does it happen in the most recondite corners inside the body of my patients. Understand how it is possible that in 15 minutes of body work the minds can quiet and the faces show a much more serene and soft expression. Understand why self-massage can help a severely traumatised woman feel safe in bare five minutes. Understand minimally the complexities of the body and mind connection (if there is even such difference on the first place).

So I learnt fast one really important postulates in Neuroscience, that is that:

Neurons that fire together wire together.

A Canadian man called Donald. O. Hebb wrote this in 1949 in his book “The Organization of Behaviour”and his work was important in comprehending synaptic plasticity and how we learn.
The funny thing is that after having heard this postulate like dozens of times in the Medical Neuroscience course, I came across a book: ¨The brain that changes itself¨ from Norman Doidge and I was amazed about what I found there.

The author, in his chapter about Psychoanalysis and its scientific fundaments, explained that actually somebody had come up with that idea already in 1888, sixty years before Hebb!! And this somebody was simply the ultrafamous Sigmund Freud:

“Freud stated that when two neurons fire simultaneously, this firing facilitates their ongoing association. Freud emphasized that what linked neurons was their firing together in time, and he called this phenomenos the law of association by simultaneity.”

Sixty years before! And??? What does this sound familiar to???

This law is closely related to one of Freud’s most used ideas: Free associating, or how patients would just say whathever would come to their mind, trivial or uncomfortable as it could be. This is based in the understanding ¨that all our mental associations, even seemingly random ones that appear to make no sense, are expressions of links formed in our memory networks.¨

And related to memory…

Freud had a rather plastic view of our memory functioning. Even though he had learnt that situations in life can leave permanent memory traces in our brains, when he started working he observed something different happening.

Memories are possible to be retranscribed, and we do it continuously, we constantly remodel our memories, we are able to alter and rewrite them. To do so we need to bring them into conscious attention.

This can also be valid for early traumatic scenes, that can be altered into more positive ones for example with broadly used techniques such as Imagery Rescripting.

In my work, I help a young lady, who was unable to cope with the trauma treatment but is now able to do Imagery Rescripting. More about her, in future posts.