Description: What does dissociation involve? At its “simplest” level, it an involve a sort of out of body experience sometimes described as being out of the pilot chair of your body or consciousness and watching things happening to you from a third-party perspective. More complex forms of dissociation include amnesia (often related to trauma), identity confusion, or even multiple personality (now called dissociative) disorder. When I discuss dissociation in class I usually say something about how, unlike other disorders where we are starting to have some sort of idea about how many disorder symptoms are mapped within the brain, we do not know how dissociations are neutrally mapped and that this also reflects our lack of knowledge about how things like self-sense and consciousness are mapped within the brain. Well, I may well have to stop saying that sort of thing going forward. Have a read through the linked article to see some fascinating research discussed on where and how dissociation might be mapped in the brain AND what a mouse model of dissociation might involve.
Source: Brain circuitry underlying dissociative experiences, ScienceDaily.
Date: September 16, 2020
So, a 3 hertz neural response pattern in the postmedial cortex of a human or some lab mice seems to produce dissociation reported by the human participant and observed in the mice. This is a wonderful example pf the potential power in case study approaches as the opportunity to study an individual who regularly reported experiencing dissociation as part of their pre-seizure aura made it possible to the researchers to observe the particular pattern of firing within the individual’s postmedial cortex that correlated closely with their experience of dissociation. Further they were able to reproduce the firing pattern in the individual (without producing a seizure) with a resulting dissociative experience. This is a starting place that could open up opportunities to more closely study and perhaps to treat dissociation associated with PTSD, amnesia and other disorders as well as providing a possible toe-hold for research into how consciousness and self-awareness are mapped within the brain.
Questions for Discussion:
- What is dissociation?
- How might dissociation be related to consciousness and self-awareness?
- What are some of the potential investigative and treatment applications of the findings of this study on the brain location associated with dissociation?
References (Read Further):
Vesuna, S., Kauvar, I.V., Richman, E. et al. (2020) Deep posteromedial cortical rhythm in dissociation. Nature, Link
Herrington, T. M., Cheng, J. J., & Eskandar, E. N. (2016). Mechanisms of deep brain stimulation. Journal of neurophysiology, 115(1), 19-38. Link
Loewenstein, R. J. (2018). Dissociation debates: everything you know is wrong. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 20(3), 229. Link
Lyssenko, L., Schmahl, C., Bockhacker, L., Vonderlin, R., Bohus, M., & Kleindienst, N. (2018). Dissociation in psychiatric disorders: a meta-analysis of studies using the dissociative experiences scale. American Journal of Psychiatry, 175(1), 37-46. Link
Krause-Utz, A., Frost, R., Winter, D., & Elzinga, B. M. (2017). Dissociation and alterations in brain function and structure: implications for borderline personality disorder. Current Psychiatry Reports, 19(1), 6. Link
Schäflein, E., Sattel, H., Schmidt, U., & Sack, M. (2018). The enemy in the mirror: self-perception-induced stress results in dissociation of psychological and physiological responses in patients with dissociative disorder. European journal of psychotraumatology, 9(sup3), 1472991. Link
Boyd, J. E., Lanius, R. A., & McKinnon, M. C. (2018). Mindfulness-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder: a review of the treatment literature and neurobiological evidence. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience. Link