Inhibition: or how to not do

It’s interesting to me that, if curious or involved in performance, we think in terms of what we do, what we could do, what we can do and, but of course, what we should do.

Could it be that our true potential can only be expressed if we excel at… not doing? In more scientific terms, one can speak of inhibition. Inhibition could serve to be quite useful in the context of managing unwanted thoughts.

Professor Michael Anderson from the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit states: “our ability to control our thoughts is fundamental to our wellbeing”.

He goes on to say that when this capacity breaks down, it causes some of the most debilitating symptoms or psychiatric diseases.

A region at the front of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is known to play a role in controlling our actions and has more recently been shown to play a similarly important role in stopping our thoughts.

One can see the PFC as a master regulator, controlling other brain regions. One of the regions it actually affects is the motor cortex for movement and the hippocampus, for memories.

Professor Anderson and his colleagues were able to identify a specific neurotransmitter that allows us to shake these unwanted thoughts. GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, to begin with. Anderson found that the concentrations of GABA in the hippocampus could predict people’s ability to block the retrieval process and prevent thoughts and memories from returning.

How cool is it that the vestibular system is connected to the synthesis of GABA and that, in essence, it’s actually pretty easy to access this system by performing exercises that challenge balance?

Researchers Kumar Sai Sailesh and Mukkadan J K were actually able to make the link between balance exercises, stress reduction and the role of GABA in that process.


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