I could offer a larger picture, the macro view, so to speak. It seems to me that we are an ongoing self organizing process that involves multiple layers of feedback loops. So let me get concrete: These feedback loops include epigenetic processes include psychoneuroimmunological processes. In other words, your immune system include attachment dynamics, in the interpersonal relationships, habit circuits, lifestyle factors, and the minds organizing networks. Now, I just babbled off a whole lot of different things, but just think in terms of, let’s say, six or seven interlocking feedback loops, we can take each one and step through that, would that be a good idea?
I can almost see the diagram. Yep, let’s do that.
So in the book, I do have these feedback loops, right? So I have a circle on the circle and the circle and the circle, you could make each one of those circles and label them differently, because they all are interacting anyway. I start with self organization, partly because of complexity theory. But we don’t need to get off into the minutiae there. But the concept is this: You’re Matt, you’re Richard, I’m John, in part related to our way of keeping ourselves organized, and we need a mind to do it. Well, we haven’t really agreed on what the heck a mind is, but we now, in neuroscience and in psychology, have agreed to a general sense of these mental operating networks – you have three of them stand out, let me just run through them.
One is called our executive network, and Matt, you’ve been probably the best of the three of us in this conversation, keeping us focused in the here and now and practical. It involves the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, it involves working memory, it involves our ability to track roughly available to us for 20 to 30 seconds, and then we’re off to something else. Hopefully, that’s something else might relate to what we were into the previous 20 to 30 seconds. And so that executive network, critically important, certainly, as we progress into adolescence, into our mid 20s, and somewhere in our 60s, we might lose some of those cells, certainly the glial cells in the dorsal lateral area, and our ability to track kind of diminishes unless we keep focused and keep training ourselves. That’s why mindfulness in this whole new craze, that’s not new but nevertheless is so important, because it is hard to keep ourselves focused. So the executive network, critically important.
Then you have another network called the salience network. The salience network is who you are within your own body that then generates a sense of emotion. And so there’s a lot of researchers and theoreticians that have been talking about this network which involves the anterior insula, the anterior cingulate, even your gut bacteria, and your Vegas nervous system. So in other words, what’s going on your gut, you have a gut feeling, you know, as I’m looking at you, Matt, because the cameras on you right now, I’m looking at you nodding, I’m having a reaction to you, I’m having emotions and my emotions then influence my cognition.
So my salience network – me being john, you being Matt, you’ve been Richard – we have a sense of who we are as how we feel within ourselves, and we generate emotions that have an influence on how we interact, whether or not you’re moving your hands and in therapy, reading those interactions, as Richard was talking earlier, about breathing patterns, and so on, this network incorporates those in the interaction.
There’s another one that we’re often in. In fact, we spend 30% of our waking hours in and that’s our default mode network, our tendency to drift off fantasise, kind of ruminate, or perhaps make sense of where we were before. Richard, you have have been a colleague and a collaborator of Ernie Rossi for for many years and co-wrote a wonderful book with him and Ernie used to talk about the ultradian rhythm and the ultradian rhythm is essentially the same thing we’ve been talking about the default mode network identified roughly about 18 years ago and it involves the posterior cingulate the medial prefrontal cortex, our tendency to kind of drift within ourselves and hopefully it has some continuity with the other two networks.
When it doesn’t we have a tendency to kind of go off and do a lot of stinking thinking as the AA and NA people often talk about how a person that sits around and just ruminates and gets into negativistic thinking can groom a depression for themselves. So these three operating networks have to be in sync and they keep us organized and they also derive a sense of newness from our long term interest formation banks are implicit memory bank and our explicit memory bank. That’s the facts and the autobiographical memory, the episodic memories and so on. So this is self organization over time. And it’s hard to define this kind of like that’s, you know, this is that’s you and this is you, this is you together these operating networks work together with these information banks to make who you are, who you are who I am, John, Matt, Richard, and so on.