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Written by Alex   
Wednesday, 22 September 2021 13:01




Development, systems and programs


Let's begin with an extraordinary claim: All of our problems; all of the suffering, panic, hassle, fear, melodrama, anxiety, trauma, dysfunction and unhappiness in people's lives, stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of reality - or should I say of the reality of nature - and it is this: Most of us simply don't know what our biology needs in order to fully develop intelligence, and so we don't provide it. Consequently, our potential intelligence never fully develops.


By 'intelligence' I don't mean IQ; I mean the natural development of our mind/brain in optimal conditions with all the accompanying skills and abilities; our imagination, memory, emotional stability, attention, empathy, prediction, creativity, concentration, intellect, control, judgment, problem-solving and so on.


Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof; the proof for this one is appropriately extraordinary, it takes a fairly long time to read and even longer to understand, but those who wish to go into all the details may do so by following up references like these: [1]

I have had a lot of fun, grief, challenges and adventures in over four decades of seeking out this proof, it is available in the references given and for that reason I am not going to repeat it here. Because what most of us need in terms of both mental health and life in general is not proof of why things go wrong; it is practical ability; techniques we can USE to prevent things going wrong; to improve life here and now; stuff we can DO today and tomorrow and next week that can help us make noticeable, measurable, permanent beneficial changes to our minds, relationships and lives. 

The thing about theory, proof, facts, data etc., is that they are most useful for those who have already had some experience, understanding and practice within a given domain; in this case neurohacking. For most people, a bunch of neuroscience facts about how brains work, disassociated from our everyday reality, may very well be interesting but it is not all that useful if we have no experience of how those facts relate to everyday reality.


What's more, we don't all have sufficient time to study in detail how our minds work. We need to be able to get on with improving our lives every day in our real life concrete situation here and now, not in a theoretical abstract future one. It isn't what facts we can recite; it's what we DO that defines us.


Most people think of their brain (if they think of it at all) as a big lumpy thingy; a bit like a liver or a lung, the whole 'lump' doing the same sort of job; in the brain’s case, thinking. Most people regard their minds (if they regard them at all) as insubstantial, abstract constructs that can be regarded as 'a sum of all thinking', which tells us nothing about the processes of mind or how to use them. Others view mind as some kind of ethereal spirit or entity with no substance, or 'soul'. We are not, it would appear, absolutely sure of what we are.


In talking about brains and minds, I like to use the 'Starship' analogy because your brain in fact is organized a lot more like the Starship Enterprise than it is like a liver or a lung. Why is a brain like a starship?

 It relies on onboard computer software to run its systems, it is organized into connected modules, covered in sensors, it's lifetime mission is to thrive, explore the unknown, communicate, do experiments, discover, learn, interact, make friends, play with stuff, and have adventures; its prime directive is to enable intelligence.


...Well, okay, brains aren't as big as starships, they are not made of metal, they don’t run on Dilithium and they haven't got a Scotsman in engineering (unless you are a Scotsman). But apart from that the analogy works rather amusingly well. 


Because for brains, going about their business in real life, it's 'Game On' - lights, sound, action! -We are right here right now, we are busy, time is short, we have to deal with responsibilities, needs, requests, demands, morons, breakdowns, problems, relationships, accidents and emergencies. We sometimes feel like we're flying by the seat of our pants just to keep up, and we don't need the equivalent of Mr. Spock explaining facts and theories about the hardware; we need someone like Scotty; with six decades' experience of working with starships and their software, who knows a useful set of simple techniques that captains can use to maintain the ship in good condition and improve performance, until they find time to read the fecking manual or do tutorials.  


Using this set of techniques, we could learn to engineer our own systems without knowing all the anatomical details. Wouldn't that be useful?


In this analogy, the game is Star Trek, and I am for a short while playing Scotty. You (your mind) are of course supposed to be the Captain. I can't fly your ship for you; only you can do that, anyway I'm far too busy flying Starship Alex. All I'm doing here is talking about what starships need in order to achieve the best construction, best repair, best quality performance and most enjoyable experience, preferably with a minimal amount of practice and no hassle.  

You don't have to understand the hardware in order to work effectively with the software. I also have that useful list of simple techniques, refined over decades. I canna break the laws of biology, Captain, but I do know a fair bit about how to hack them. 


Biology expects things   

In real life, your brain and body comprise the only vessel you have at your disposal for exploring and navigating reality throughout your life, and they are biologically designed to be directed by your mind; that is, YOU are supposed to be in control deciding where to boldly go, where to sensibly avoid, and what tasks to do in order to succeed, benefit and thrive.  

The term, 'Biology expects things' requires explanation, because obviously biology has no 'mind of its own' any more than your computer does, so it can hardly 'expect things' in the sense that we consciously understand the term. Biology does not consciously expect things, and does not have its own separate point of view; the 'biological perspective', which in some unexplained way differs from your own. Biological expectations ARE your own. A biological perspective is YOUR perspective; what else could it possibly be? We cannot separate ourselves from our biological origins, and whatever biology computes, our bodies and brains will follow.  

So let us begin with 'biology computes probabilities in terms of expected 'default' behaviors and predicts what is likely to be necessary', thus it can adapt organisms' structures and behaviors according to what it concludes will probably be necessary next.  

In healthy circumstances this is all very very good and leads to beneficial, appropriate behavior and complementary emotions to match. Biology expects our elders, friends and parents – our culture - to show us by example how the starships work, give us examples of how to fly them well and succeed at missions, accompany us until we can get sufficient experience before flying off on our own.   

Biological systems 'expect' things to happen because for a very long time they have been happening to all members of the species and it has become part of the developmental program in all organisms to prepare them for whatever is expected. This, then, is the sense in which we may safely use the term, 'expects'. Biology expects your species to need to breathe air to extract oxygen, so it develops lungs. Nobody instructs your body to build lungs or how to construct a brain; it is automatically programmed to do so and these are automatic expectations. Biology has evolved programs for everything that it expects organisms might need, and it stores them and carries them around in genomes.   

Complex organisms develop 'specialist' features which are adapted to their specific 'game plan' (their circumstances, needs and contexts); for example wings, gills, sonar or in our own case, very complicated brains and the potential for a high degree of conscious awareness. 

Biology also has a game plan for intelligence development. It expects us to be trained by our allies and culture to be able to do everything required for starship mastery, without harming others and without trashing our ship or our environment. Our unconscious mind assumes that we will be shown by other members of our species how to be adept at avoiding dangers, exploring opportunities, and learning from mistakes. We are 'expected' to be surrounded by folks who were already out boldly going while we were still in diapers; showing us constant examples of how to be resilient against stressors, wise enough to avoid being conned or fooled, able to survive shocks and repair damage, diplomatic enough to successfully interact, and strong enough to avoid coercion or anxiety.


Biology assumes (from evidence during ages of previous experience) that a successful life may be built upon this foundation, because the unconscious believes that we are equipped with all the supporting resources and tools necessary at our disposal to fly this ship and begin exploring the universe. It expects us to be the equivalent of Starship Captains with full training and plenty of hands-on experience. 


You will already be spotting a big problem with biology's trust in these expectations and their underlying belief. Biology's game plan currently diverges widely from the situation we actually live in. In our experience, none of us were trained as Starship Captains. In terms of mental development, we may have picked up a few hints from others or from trial and error, but nobody deliberately made a point of showing us how to be resilient, strategic, emotionally stable, diplomatic, brave or wise. Nobody even mentioned those things, except in movies. There was no equivalent of Starfleet Academy, no classes (practical or theory) for things like shock recovery, achieving lasting genuine loving relationships, avoiding the coercion of bullies, thinking for ourselves, developing creative strategy and rational judgment, or navigating through the dangers of dysfunctional people's emotional minefields.


We were taught some scientific stuff about people who once boldly went, and what their discoveries and inventions have done for us today, and we are taught a lot about how to be society's ideal citizen, but we are given no practice at boldly going anywhere; many of us having been raised in circumstances where one individual (a child) has to ask another individual (a teacher) for permission to move, speak or go for a pee.


There's no onboard user manual for minds, either, that we are made aware of. The brain does not come with an instructions package for how to think or how to develop mental skills. So here you are, left in charge inside this incredible, intricate, marvelous machine with incredible potential but nobody ever told you how it works, what it can do or how to fly it. Nobody even taught you the basics of what fuel to put in it or how to maintain it to prevent it falling apart. 


This is a huge developmental issue. We have lost a great deal of cultural communication and nurture for our mental development; we are shown no examples of many skills, and thus we have no way to develop many skills. Developmental expectations have not been met and we are left with the result. 


Imagine if some aliens just gave you a spaceship and then left. …Right. Off you go then... ...You know what to do?



Apart from obvious concerns about starships, like, where do you put the fucker (and this is not a problem with the brain), you have had no training, seen no examples of what it can do and how to get it to do it. There may be an instruction manual in the ships own computer somewhere but you don't know how to access the file and anyway it's written in alien. There is a crew of machines and thinking entities waiting for instructions, and if you don’t take command the ship will just take off randomly and bump about with you on board, making all sorts of potentially dangerous goofers that affect your life. 


Basically a leaderless ship will fly you constantly into trouble if it gets no guidance, or worse; into big trouble under the direction of somebody else, or random information in general. Because if you don't know how to control your own ship, plenty of unscrupulous others can divert it as a tool to increase their own resources, to your detriment!  


Being basically bullied around and told what to do is many people's current experience of life. 'That's just 'the way things are', y'know?' We've all just been sorta muddling along from the start like everyone else; like a crew all in the same boat, right? Yet since captain of our own ship is our unavoidable biological role in life, as our awareness emerges we find ourselves thrust into this complicated context feeling somewhat ill-prepared for current events.    

What's more, due to the ongoing nature of human development, when we first start out on life's journey our 'starship brain' is only partly-built. Since nobody tells us the techniques required to complete it, our system has to try to complete its own construction by somehow finding (often by trial and error, with accompanying accidents) the correct procedures to do so.    


There's no Scotty; there are no practice maneuvers, no user theory; and even if there were there's no time for them because, hey, there's kindergarten and parents and school and social media and TV. And hassle from all these sources telling us what they want us to do, 24/7. Most of us don't discover the triggers necessary for ongoing development during our youth because we literally have no time, and at puberty we thus have to do the equivalent of leaving space dock without a tractor beam.


In short, we are not provided with any relevant training, we are given no clear prime directives for real life, nor are we taught anything about ourselves (minds, brains or bodies), or how to successfully interact with others or our environment. We are given nothing that is practically useful for developing intelligence further or even for basic maintenance. Many of us are stuck in inappropriate contexts right from the start, where no further development can take place because the required biological need (the required type of nurture – input -) is not given, and because harmful input is given instead.


As a consequence of this (although not the only consequence) many of us do remarkably well to survive at all; many of us are dependent on drugs, some of us self-destruct, and most of us just limp around ineffectually in behavioral circles because we honestly don't have enough energy or awareness to see any other way to go. Life seems shallow, mundane and pointless, at times we behave like wimps, other times we behave like bullies (these being the two most prevalent forms of dysfunctional behavior). Most of us are not even on the bridge of our own ship; somebody else is telling us what to do and we automatically comply, not having the energy or motivation to cope with the resulting hassle if we don't. Many of us are conditioned to believe bullies' ideas about what we should do with our lives (in short, serve them), and to avoid change; thus a large number of us end up being used as the equivalent of slave ships; putting our time and energy into fulfilling other people's desires under threat of punishment if we don't comply, or promise of some theoretical fulfillment if we do.

 Punishment often happens, fulfilment does not. And the biological clock is ticking. As we age, doctors may keep fixing physical bits of us that break down, but the rest of 'the starship' - the intended intelligence - is either never constructed, or is wired up wrongly and prone to dysfunction. In the rush of current industrial life, many people are fatigued by all the hassle and confusion to the extent of not caring, and have slumped into the apathetic-depressive state of believing 'that's just the way life is', without even knowing there's anything missing.   


If suddenly freed and asked what they really wanted to do with their lives, many people would be unable to think of anything. A lot of people literally cannot decide what they personally want to do; they have no experience of doing so, and very poor imagination.   

The Neurohacking Prime Directive is 'No Coercion', and I must make clear that coercion is not intended here by stating the following: If you are happy and contented in an unvarying existence doing repetitive stuff for other people in exchange for money; if you feel you're already fulfilling your optimal potential in life and your relationships and health are satisfactory; or if you believe 'well, that IS just the way life is' and everything else is just airy faery nonsense not worth bothering about; or if you think scientific evidence doesn't count for much because there's also god, then you should stop reading here. Time is life; I don't want to waste anyone's time, and this book is not for you.   


I have no desire to change anyone's mind; the only mind we should ever feel a need to change is our own. So, 'All ashore who're going ashore' before we take off. 

If, however...



...If you have always had that feeling there was something more to life than society's mundane shenanigans or school or work punctuated by hanging around in bars or watching TV; if you have ever been aware that you're not fulfilling your potential; that relationships 'ought to be better than this'; if you have ever believed that you are 'meant for something more'; that you should 'become what you were meant to be'; or that 'something was meant to happen, but it didn't', or simply that human life should be a great deal more awesome, exciting, fulfilling and downright joyous than it currently appears to be, please fasten your seat belts, extinguish your smartphone, smoke whatever you like and by all means read on.  

To avoid the sort of tension one uses deliberately in fiction; if you feel this way, you'll be happy to know that neuroscience is in the process of proving you correct. Human life can be pretty fantastic, if we know what to do and if (and this is the big IF) we are brave enough to stop going round in conditioned behavioral circles and actually complete the procedure required to change course and continue developing our minds. This is what it comes down to when facing the unknown: do we really care enough to bother?  

In short, are we or are we not 'the right stuff' and if not, are we able to do the things that turn us into 'the right stuff'? 


To do it now or not to do it now; THAT is the question   

...Because it's easy for us to read any amount of new ideas about what it takes to shift from surviving to thriving, but it's not at all easy for many of us to DO new stuff. Most of us are not used to doing new stuff; we are used to reading about doing new stuff. That's what we're doing right now.  

The main decision we all make about actually DOING stuff (any stuff) is always based on the unconscious probability calculation, 'is it worth it?' Is it too much hassle? Is it worth bothering? Probability calculation is an evolutionary (and very sensible) unconscious procedure that intelligence uses to avoid any unnecessary wasting of time and energy for low returns.  

Well, like everything else, that depends on what you personally value; what we really mean when asking this question is, 'Is the return worth the effort for me personally?' and that's entirely up to you. There's no obligation to do Neurohacking at all; people choose to do it for various different benefits and because they find it fun. You can choose to do a little or a lot, depending on how much you enjoy it. The more practice you put in, the more benefits you get out. Also, be clear that I'm not trying to convince anybody they 'should' do any NH at all; I'm just talking about what can happen if you do.   

A lot depends on where mental health figures in your life priorities. For me, it's difficult to imagine anything more essential to any human than developing and maintaining a healthy mind, because without it we cannot achieve much else at all. Also, when mental health suffers, even a little, physical and emotional health will follow.[2] This becomes more of an issue as we age, when mental resilience really starts to matter. Is it worth bothering avoiding risk factors for dementia? Only you can decide how much that matters to you.  

Your choices will partly depend on how much you are prepared to stretch yourself. Your mind is used to these sorts of calculations and has been doing them since childhood - ...is it worth risking the hassle incurred by getting caught, in order to get the fun of bunking off school and going to the movies? ...Should you try Vodka even though you've not tried it before? ...Are you sure you want to try leaping that distance and risk landing on a pile of stinky garbage if you fail? As adults this progresses to, 'Should I go to all the trouble of moving house to position X, where there are many benefits I currently lack, but the hassle of commuting is much greater?' 'Should I invest my time in procedure Y when doing it is quite a lot of hassle, seems boring, and it will be a while before I see any benefits?'  


Your current degree of development and factors such as patience, determination, fatigue, interest, self control and how anxious you are about others' opinions of you will all affect your choices. If you want immediate gratification all the time you probably won't stick with NH.


Fly? Yes! Land? ...No.  

To be fair, we all begin NH with the attitude that we need new skills NOW; we need a better memory NOW; we need to fix relationship problems NOW; but if you think back to being a kid, you felt just the  same way about riding a bike, play an instrument or swim. Mental skills require exactly the same perseverance, but in exactly the same way we soon find we 'get the hang of it' and then it's just a matter of practice (and, certainly, mucking up a few times) until we get proficient. And the more we practice, the better we get and the more fun it becomes.   

Your choices also depend on what you believe is possible. Our estimation of our own potential for a greater quality of life hinges on how good we really believe it's possible for human life to be, how much better we can imagine life being; and we often judge our lives in shallow ways by comparison to others' lives; in terms of appearances or in terms of material goods. Put simply, if we cannot imagine ourselves changing to something 'better' in any way, or imagine any kind of better quality of life, or really don't believe it's possible to further develop our minds, there seems little point in trying to make it so.   

The primary message of NH is that our personal attributes such as behavior, attitude and personality, as well as the wiring of our brains, the expression of our genome and our emotional responses, are all malleable if we systematically – and with appropriate biological signals – interact with our systems to change them. Essentially we need more than just a vague belief in the possibility of change; we need to understand basically how these changes are accomplished and how to take volitional control over our own biological systems; in order to develop into the kind of people we have the potential to become.  

Is neurohacking worth it? Is pursuing full intelligence development worth it? Each of us can only decide for ourselves what matters to us. We are also free to change our minds in response to new evidence, new learning or new circumstances.  

life on earth  

Any intelligent person paying attention to current circumstances in general is going to realize something which is actually quite biologically odd in a living organism: most humans don't seem to be having a great time in their lives; they don't appear to enjoy a high quality of life experience, and evidence shows that this is apparently regardless of what they own or what they are doing.[3]  

We don't see a great deal of spontaneous joy, inspired creativity or examples of loving, gentle, light-hearted, happy behavior, on an average day. There is plenty of 'wimp' behavior where people anxiously scurry around doing what they're told, and plenty of bully behavior where people pompously strut about telling other people what to do, and often they occur intermittently in the same person, but we don't see many healthy, well-balanced, joyful individuals who on the whole appear to be truly enjoying their lives.    

Obviously, all lives have their bummers, but how many people do you know who could (genuinely) claim to be, on the whole, enjoying a great life? How many people do you know who even believe it's possible for human life to be great; to be mainly free of the hassles of mundanity, and explore our creative and intellectual potential? How many of us wake up grinning in the morning, appreciative and excited at the prospect of another great day, facing only the choice of which interesting thing to do first? How many of us experience joy at the amazing things our minds can do?  


The future prognosis isn't so good either; the percentage of people affected by mental disorders and problems is increasing rapidly along with our suicide rates, failed relationships, chronic physical ailments, social, psychological and environmental problems.


It may occur to you that the pattern of decline in human mental health, resilience and happiness kinda doesn't make sense from a 'big picture' perspective, because at root we're biological creatures, and other biological creatures appear to have reasonably good lives; they manage to keep their relationships together, meet their own food needs, and raise families without getting terminally anxious and killing themselves, and they don't have anything like the complex clever brains that we do.


Sure, other creatures have their own specialities to help them thrive, such as great big teeth, wings, or the ability to breathe underwater, but we're supposed to have great big brains, imagination, executive skills and the ability to think under pressure. We have these enormous frontal lobes full of extras that enable complicated stuff like creativity, innovation, conscious strategy, abstract reasoning, logic and intellect. In terms of processing power, it's like the difference between having a regular laptop and a supercomputer, and it seems reasonable to expect a large gap in mental ability to exist between those who do, and those who don't, have the evolutionary specialty of 'extra' brains.  

After all, if the majority of 'relatively dumb' wildlife can get its act together to have a pretty reasonable life on this planet without extra brains, it seems like humans ought to be right up there having a fabulous time, and thriving not least because our intelligence can create all sorts of useful things that other species can't, like complicated technology, machines, medicine, maps and engineering. Things that should remove a lot of the obstacles or limitations inherent in mammalian life.   

We do see the promising beginnings of this potential for increased intelligence to transform things for the better, when we look at hunter-gather tribes today who take advantage of the resources in their natural environment to create technology. With basic weapons, herbal medicine and hut-construction, they manage to achieve stable populations, low mortality rates and zero cases of depression and suicide; they have enough to eat, do very little work, rarely get ill, and they get along fine until something (such as a logging company, unknown disease or foreign invaders) gets in the way. At this point if they can't adapt (for example by moving), their cultural development largely stops and later begins to decline.   

Gradually they become 'people like us', changing (often under coercion) their independent lifestyle to one of dependence, working for strangers to buy food, medicines and houses, sending their kids off to school ... and then they start to get all the same mental and physical problems we do. 

The obvious question is, why? We are not, biologically, any different from them to begin with. Although human lifestyles are very diverse around the world, tribal brains are made of exactly the same stuff as the brains we have, human DNA is human DNA, and since those of us living in the 'standard' western industrial fashion also have all this marvelous extra other stuff at our disposal like antibiotics, space flight, computers, cars and cities, you'd expect 'people like us' to be the jewel in the crown of biology's success; up there thriving and experiencing a very high quality of life. And we would see this reflected in an outpouring of joy; in great works of art, music and a plethora of creativity. 


You'd certainly expect us to be much happier and healthier than, say, your average hunter-gather tribesperson, or your average subsistence farmer. These people do not even know what money is; they are living in what we would consider a 'lifestyle' of absolute poverty, and by contrast we would expect 'people like us' to be reaping the rewards of our rich, techno lifestyles in a lot of ways and feeling absolutely fabulous. In short, you'd expect the figures to be the other way round - you'd expect depression, suicide and despair to be much higher in the poverty-stricken group, and much better health and happiness in the group with clean food, state schooling, decent jobs, good dentistry, proper houses and real toilets. Why, then, is it the other way round?  

We clearly DO feel appreciation for our tech; our homes, our clothes, our medicines, our vehicles, our shops; and most of us are well aware that we would be dead already without at least one of these inventions (especially antibiotics). We find it difficult to imagine the hardships of living without electricity or plumbing; having to grow, gather or catch your own food, process it and cook it in order to eat. The prospect of being illiterate, having no home until you build one, or no medicine unless you know how to use herbs, would terrify many. Yet, when we observe and talk to people who live much simpler tribal lives without any of our technological benefits, the perplexing thing is that those groups which remain unhassled by outsiders seem to experience a great deal more joy and a great deal less anxiety and mental dysfunction than we do.  

This holds true regardless of multiple other factors: Nomadic or settled, hunters or growers, members of tribes in isolation or with security of tenure (ie, with no need to contest resources or defend against invasion) appear to have rich, fulfilling physical, emotional, cultural and spiritual lives. They are creative, artistic, and they invent and build tech where needed to assist them in their daily lives. They trade goods with their neighbors, they go on journeys to explore, there is a lot of interaction and a lot of laughter and very little strife. 

Although life itself throws regular problems at them as it does all humans, they seem to be more resilient than we are, and adaptable enough to navigate through and recover speedily from trauma, grief or shock. They go about everyday life happily; fearless and confident, with loved ones and allies at their side and the tribe's body of knowledge in their memories, gained fro the very real necessities of having to live congruously with their environment and with each other for many generations. Life is generally fun, full of rich meaning, often exciting, and totally worthwhile.[4]   

There is a legitimate argument to be noted here; that this comparison is missing a point - the reality is that tribal peoples have (unintentionally) practiced eugenics for hundreds of generations, simply because they didn't have any other option and, left alone, building resilience is what evolution by natural selection does. In a biological context where for a long time any individual who is unhealthy, mentally weak or psychologically imbalanced simply dies because they cannot take adequate care of themselves, obviously the later generations are much more likely to have strong immunity, mental resilience and psychological stability.  


At the same time, people living in industrialized societies have also been practicing eugenics - again mostly without knowing that they were doing it - we have for example short-circuited natural selection by prioritizing physical survival at all costs, regardless of the state of our mind or body. We cut off death at the pass daily with antibiotics or surgery, to prolong physical survival. We perform caesarians and we resuscitate stillborns, regardless of their physical or mental condition. We strive to keep those 'vital signs' going regardless of whether or not mental health (or in some cases, even consciousness) is present.  

We also support members of our community who cannot support themselves, sometimes throughout their entire lives; we always fight to maintain life regardless of the level of dysfunction, and it could thus be argued that we have 'bred for' a weak population of low resilience, unstable mental health and poor immunity; maybe trusting in our abilities and science to come up with cures for all conditions eventually. We have even consciously summed this overall 'healthcare' strategy up with the concept "Where there's life, there's hope".  

It is generally claimed that we ''civilized' types choose to do all this because we have a deeply compassionate moral nature that feels compelled to value and take care of all human life, but in light of historical and current human atrocities I think we'd have major problems proving that one.   

However you feel about these arguments, regardless of whether you decide they are true or false, sound or fallacious, we will pass them by, because none of them can sufficiently explain why, if we take a dysfunctional person from our industrialized society and expose them to tribal behaviors in a natural context, their own behavior and mental health measurably improve, changing from harmful, less-mature behaviors towards beneficial, more-mature behaviors.[5] Nor can they explain why, if we take a healthy tribal kid and expose them to life in our industrialized society, they begin to become dysfunctional and change from more mature to less mature behaviors.[6]   

These changes can be measured in terms of genetic expression and blood chemistry as well as observed behavior, and those who are interested in the details of this effect must follow up the references and/or wait a bit; for now, I shall just say that the reason for these epigenetic changes lies with biological imperatives; biology's needs, being met or not being met by environmental input. Put simply, pretty much everything that surrounds tribal people sends beneficial signals to biology, and pretty much everything that surrounds us is in some way harmful to it.  

Before you don your loincloth and rush into the forest, though, this does NOT mean we have to go and live with a tribe, or live like a tribe, in order to affect beneficial changes and improve mental health. Tribal contexts work because they simply provide easier ongoing access to environmental triggers which fulfill biological imperatives. In a forest, nothing gets in the way of biology, and the things and input that biology needs are frequently provided. And that's where Neurohacking comes in useful, because it enables us to hack biology and fulfill our biological imperatives without having to run naked through jungles chasing our dinners.  

The reason 'relocated' tribes become 'like us' in terms of mental problems has nothing to do with the provision of houses, medicine or technology. These are benefits of human culture and ideally would be available to all who want them. The problem lies with deprivation of the environmental input vital to biology; failure to meet biological imperatives.   

To summarize this section: the reason we fail to actualize our potential and wind up with so many problems lies in our failure to fully develop our intelligence, and this happens (and has happened to many people for a long, long time) because we fail to fulfill the biological imperatives FOR that development to take place.   

This does not mean 'your needs are not being met'; nor is it about 'getting your needs met'; it means your biology (your unconscious mind) knows that you have not yet developed the ability to meet your own needs. You are designed by biology to be able to meet your own needs by maturity. That means you've still got some developing to do, and biology will continue to make you feel uncomfortable, anxious and dissatisfied until you pursue that development.


systems within systems 

You, like all living things, were born already embedded within an intricate, complex, interrelated network of dynamic nested systems; the 'supporting systems' for both life and intelligence development. 

   You are in a set of nested systems: mind - brain - body - environment - planet - solar system – galaxy – universe.     

This foundation is dynamic and can change - several species on earth including ours have added layers to this complex of systems within systems, as follows: mind - brain - body – group/clan/tribe - culture - environment - planet - solar system – galaxy - universe. 

Group living  

Living in groups offers many species advantages in terms of survival and thriving. Successful conscious grouping relies on allies - people who care about each other and enjoy doing things together - providing a bridge between the individual and the environment; a set of circumstances that behave as a conduit; essential for youngsters during the time when they are learning the basics of controlling their own bodies, walking upright and communicating, and also throughout life in various circumstances and relationships requiring cooperation. 


Any ongoing cooperative relationship between individuals with regular contact counts as 'a group'. Some species form groups only when they have to, and some mammals only choose to live in groups for certain periods of their lives or in certain circumstances (for example to mate, when raising young, or during times of mutual hardship). But lots of species, from insects to whales, have taken advantage of the benefits of interacting in group systems as adults permanently, even though they are able to survive as individuals without groups. Parents and young are 'in a group' much of the time by default, and this holds true for all mammals, because isolated baby mammals don't survive.


Unlike insect groups which are genetically programmed as eusocial, mammalian (including human) groups are neither determined nor restricted by genetic relationships. That is, members of mammalian groups are not necessarily genetically related, although some members may be. Your current 'group' includes all those allies you are close to, communicate with and care about; there may also be friends and sexual partners within your group to whom you are not related. Sexual partners should definitely not be genetically related!


You may also have genetic relatives who are NOT included in your group. Groups are dynamic, they change and develop; some join and others leave, births and deaths continue to occur, we meet new people and lose contact with others. Humans are the most adaptable of all mammals when it comes to group or individual living, because there are no 'one circumstance fits all' rules for our species. We are highly adaptable, and as long as our biological needs are met, we can live successfully alone or in company, and have the freedom to choose.



A selection of mammals adopting group living has also developed culture; the ability to pass on members' knowledge, creations and abilities to each other and future generations by whatever means. Culture inserts a bridge between the individual or group and the environment; and it's an evolutionary shortcut; instead of having to work out how to do everything from first principles via trial and error, we can ask someone else how to do it, watch and copy, or go read about it, whatever it is. It is culture that has enabled our species to do a hop, skip and a jump through evolutionary development time and arrive relatively rapidly at our current location, surrounded by inventions and discoveries, arts and sciences.    

Human culture is the ability to pass on a communal 'body of knowledge'; all of our collective art, science, knowledge and abilities, creations and inventions, interactions and methods. How we care for our children, how we use tools, what stories we write, how we behave towards one another and how we share information and skills are all part of human culture. Culture is about real, concrete things we do and make, and is responsible for human technological and behavioral progress.  


Culture is not society. Everything we share open-source style is culture. Someone showing a kid how to tie shoes, that's culture. The Mona Lisa painting, that's culture. Mom showing daughter how to carry baby, that's culture. Online footage of moon landings, that's culture.


Societies and culture 

However, we were also born into a set of peculiar circumstances already long established before we got here; and that is whatever current prevailing society humans maintain in the particular geographical location we grew up in.  

Because popular media use the terms 'society' and 'culture' interchangeably, it is necessary to understand here the difference (in terms of their effect on humans) between human culture and human societies.  

Your culture depends on your species; there is only one human culture, one chimpanzee culture, one whale culture, and so on. Some things only happen on a 'species' level, evolution is one and culture is another.  

Each individual is involved in only some aspects of human culture; there would not be time within our lifetimes for one person to be involved in all aspects of culture! Our culture is thus a collective thing; each of us experiences a segment of it during our lifetimes and (if all goes well with development) adds other segments to it from their own unique creativity. Important, useful contributions spread, and so eventually all humans are able to light fires and make stone tools, and off we go. Culture will never go away until humans go away. The 'laws' in culture are the laws of physics, biology, mathematics, chemistry etc.; they are 'hard facts' that can't be broken or changed.   

Culture is a species-wide phenomenon. Societies on the other hand do not affect whole species; they affect parochial groups in individual geographical areas. Human societies are systems of resource control and social control that past generations have implemented, often long before you (or anyone living) got here. Usually they are based on beliefs; via religious or political systems, traditions, rules and regulations, and institutions such as school, church, prisons and work. There are lots of different types of societies.[95]  

Societies often clash with culture, most especially with science and its habit of revealing inconvenient truths which may discredit societal claims or (worse) cast doubt upon religious beliefs and ethics. Unlike culture, societies are not permanent; they come and go and sometimes transform into different types (often under public pressure). They usually change their rules along the way too.  

The most important difference between society and culture is that of abstract and concrete dimensions of operation; in short, between what is fact and what is fiction. Whilst culture emerges in real life, society is of necessity invented; obviously someone has to make up the rules at the point when apparent need for them arises. The 'creations' of society are fictional and abstract constructs, rather than concrete; that is to say, culture creates statues, society makes up rules about what sort of statues 'should be allowed'. Culture determines how you make a cake; society tells you it is illegal to put certain 'banned substances' in that cake and how you will be punished if you do. 

Factual laws like the laws of physics, chemistry or biology are impossible to break (except in cartoons). Fictional laws are 'rules' which only work if everyone agrees to behave by them; and they can be broken, bent, hacked or ignored.   

Who made the original fictional rules? Who first decided that other people 'should' be allowed to do or not to do, and how they should do it?


We may wonder what sort of circumstances could ever make social control seem necessary. If you think about it, you'll realize that controlling people and telling them what to do only becomes necessary (and possible) only when they cannot control or think for themselves; for example if they are injured, ill, very young, or in some way dysfunctional.  

On the other hand, there has probably always been some amount of dysfunctional bully behavior in groups; insecurity inciting a pathological desire to control others (ie, where there is no actual 'need' to do so).   

This suggests at least two possibilities behind the original formation of artificial 'laws' (as opposed to real laws of chemistry & physics etc.), both of which are probably true. One possibility is that such rules were simply invented and enforced by bullies in order to hoard resources such as raw materials, land, goods and labor; another possibility is that such measures became necessary for protection against bullies at the point when dysfunctional behaviors within a group were likely to harm others within the same group (in other words by bullying or other harmful behaviors). For these two opposing reasons, the same ideas may well arise.  

Societies don't always arise. Human groups have an 'optimal' self-governing size which, being dynamic, differs in different circumstances. In ordinary, everyday living situations, groups of between 100 and 250 people are an optimal size.[7] Often our circle of close allies and friends is much smaller. Groups smaller than 250 people tend not to form societies for the simple reason that social control is not usually necessary or possible when everybody in the group knows everybody else.   

When humans gather in greater numbers than this in the same location, health (including mental health) declines (this is also true of many animal populations) and attempts to impose rules begin arising. Proximity affects us; unconsciously we do not feel at all comfortable crowded together all the time, because health suffers if even a small number lives in crowded conditions. Biodiversity also declines.  


'Enough space' turns out to be a biological imperative, and this will become a big issue in the future as populations increase. We are already well over the optimal for world population in terms of hygiene, available safe resources and waste disposal, and this situation is unlikely to improve within our lifetimes.   

Bear in mind also; the institutions, procedures, traditions and rules of the society we live in were not invented (or even agreed with) by 'all the people' whenever they first came into being; they were invented either by individuals or at best small groups; groups of people who for some reason felt it was both okay and necessary to 'govern others' or simply to get other people to obey them.    

Societies as we know them began arising during early farming times; when populations boomed, health (including mental health) declined, and bullying, class inequality, conquest by neighbors, theft of land, predators and invasion all needed to be dealt with,[8] but from our point of view here today they might as well have happened 'a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away'; because even the most recent societies have their roots in a time when diseases were 'known' to be caused by evil spirits or witches, the heart was responsible for thought, the brain was designed to cool the blood, and properly civilized people had slaves to empty their sewage into the street. 


However, we're not here to study anthropology, and the only point about societal systems relevant to us in NH is what they have in common: unfortunately they are all static systems. Or rather, they are attempting to be static systems, because in reality all things must change over time and stasis is impossible. Absolute stasis in living systems; a situation in which there is no movement or change of any kind whatsoever going on, indicates clinical death in biology. Lack of sufficient change; ongoing routine, mundanity and especially boredom, impair intelligence development and cause decline. 


Static systems attempt to prevent change because their founders and supporters mistake stasis for stability.  

Stability is achieved in real life through establishing a dynamic equilibrium; a system that can interact with already existing systems and adapt itself AS things change. Culture is just such a dynamic system; new art and new science shape new changes, creations, inventions, technology, innovations and adaptations, and changes in the real world environment create different necessities in research. Culture can thus adapt itself to suit things, and adapt things to suit itself. Dynamic systems (like the weather) change all the time and can be very complex, yet they maintain overall equilibrium due to underlying governing rules which are very simple.   

Static constructs like societies present a problem for both biology and intelligence, partly because they take up so much time and energy that should (according to biology) be spent on further intelligence development, and partly because the behaviors that societies usually enforce retard (slow down) intelligence development. The net result of many generations of this has been the reality of most of us today wandering around 'on impulse drive' when we should really be capable of warp speed; sleepwalking ourselves into automatic mundanity instead of developing our potential. 


'Updating' societies (with, for example, changing laws or political systems) is no solution to this; it only makes things ever-more complicated and ever more harmful. Suddenly allowing women or gay folks or children or 'minority groups' to join in societal activities does not remove the underlying problem that, as far as biology is concerned, many of those activities are not only time-wasting but harmful.


Growth and development occur, biologically, in the service of the individual. Static systems by their very nature prevent growth and development as they are (overtly or covertly) designed to condition the individual in service of the societal system, which is how societies perpetuate; supply chains of living people provide the power to keep them rolling.


We have to live here on this planet in one or another society right now (and if possible we have to try to sort out some of the environmental mess our predecessors left behind and which so many are still adding to). The current legacy of wholly inappropriate, growth-retarding societal conditioning (and its thoughtless maintenance by current multitudes) is what gets in the way of biology and retards our development. The institutions of our society like school and work, far from enhancing or assisting our intelligence, promote decline by ignoring and avoiding (and sometimes even forbidding) access to biological imperatives.


We spend all of our (life)time working on the presentation of ourselves as 'society's ideal self' instead of developing our real selves as biology intended. We pay the price in lack of intelligence development and all the attending physical, psychological, emotional and interactional problems we are not equipped to solve; plus we miss out on some wonderful human experiences that healthy development brings.   

Without meeting biological imperatives, regardless of what teaching methods or work arrangements or societal rules we follow, mind simply cannot develop and may well decline. If we're lucky, we end up with a reasonable intellect for a few decades, but all the rest (and oh, there is  so much 'rest') of our intelligence fails to develop. Nor are we taught how to maintain or improve our intellect, which consequently usually declines with age rather than continuing to develop.   


Rather than creating a bridge between levels, society creates obstacles between the individual or group and the environment; exactly the opposite of what culture achieves. Society of necessity censors things, bans things, restricts things, puts up borders and boundaries. And the only reason all this difficulty happens is prior (and in most cases, current) lack of knowledge about bio-imperatives and their necessity for intelligence development.   

Here is our dilemma; society tells us to settle down, work hard, go to church, pay our taxes. Do what we are told, and later we might be allowed to tell other people what to do, either in this life or the next one. Meanwhile culture (which goes right on emerging in pace with the reality of real-life discovery and which DOES improve intelligence) inspires us to explore, innovate, get out of the rat race, stop the mundanity, turn on, tune in and drop out, go have a great time and be creative. 

To the newbie (and we all begin life with this epithet), born into a prevailing society, there are no immediately clear options available for doing anything else but joining in the mundanity. Even as adults, we can choose to emigrate and go live in a different kind of society, but it's still a society, and will have its own retarding aspects.  

"All over the world revolutions come and go. Presidents rise and fall. They all steal your chickens. The only thing to change is the name of the man who takes them.  

(Old Man in Pueblo, Young Indiana Jones Chronicles) 

We can only avoid the harms of all societies by understanding what biology really needs, and using both biology and culture to neurohack ourselves from survival to thriving. This means immersing ourselves in what society calls 'sub-culture' but what is in fact just culture; human culture, humming away discovering new stuff and creating beauty and order beneath the surface nonsense. We can make direct volitional small changes in our lives that shift us into a cultural foundation, partly what the techniques in this book may assist us to do.


To summarize, our biological foundation is a system within systems, and all of these systems are dynamic and interactive; they affect one another all the time, and they control a great deal of what happens to us throughout our lifetimes, including how we feel, what we think about, and what we do.


We arrived here on planet earth at a time when human populations are getting to ridiculous levels for our own (and other) species' wellbeing, in circumstances which render it fairly impossible not to get caught up in all the details of whatever archaic, obstructive, resource-depleting society we inherit.


In conforming to its requirements we fail to fulfill biological imperatives, retarding our own mental development and entirely missing the big picture of what we really are, the experience of what we really could be, and the knowledge of what is required by our biology to pursue full development into a fulfilling, healthy, happy, free intelligence.    

The rules of society prevent the programs of biology from running; the two constructs are in competition for control of our system, and we are all caught in the crossfire of the anxiety, confusion, unhappiness and problems which result.   

Life has become a battleground between unconscious biological intent, which drives us from within to break free, explore, have fun, learn and thrive, and our conscious awareness of society's intentions, anxiously pushing us back into dependence and conformity from without. We are, therefore, constantly under pressure, and not surprisingly a lot of us get crushed.  


Regardless of our opinions about societies and their benefits and hazards, it's useful to know that there's no need to react to society in negative ways in order to pursue a path of mental health and happiness. The healthy attitude is to view things from the big picture perspective, in which societies come and go, generations come and go, individuals come and go, yet intelligent people with rational, passionate minds still manage to emerge in our culture, imagining a better future and doing things which help to develop it. If you can do that for yourself, you can re-initiate your intelligence development and gain all the benefits thereof.

A human baby is born expecting culture just as a fish is born expecting water.”    

(Alice Roberts [9])


You will also become a thread in the tapestry of human culture; your intelligence will flourish, your ideas will live on to inspire others, and incidentally you may become a very happy person. Society will not go away, but you can prevent it from continuing to obstruct your development. And the more your intelligence develops, the more easily your former problems will be solved.


The fact that biology finds itself at odds with aspects of our lifestyle within modern industrial societies is not something that should be denied, hidden, blamed or feared; it should be rationally understood, explored and addressed, both in the individual and, ultimately, in the society. Even simply knowing about these issues does much to prevent further problems and allows us to look realistically at what we each want to do with our lives. Being informed together with experience gives us the power of informed choice and extra options.

Biological systems


Into this context of systems within systems then, some beneficial and some harmful, we emerge. What do I mean by 'we'? Regardless of personal philosophy about the self, I am assuming that we would all agree with the following facts: that 'we' are biological organisms, that we're mammals, that we're human, that our brains and minds are essential natural features, and that the evolutionary human 'specialty' among humans is our complex intelligence...   


...Okay, to be fair, we can also chuck stuff really well. Nothing throws stuff quite like a human, which is fortunate as otherwise we'd have stuff thrown at us by other species all the time. We are really, really good at chucking stuff; we can throw things further away from ourselves and hit other things with them more accurately and forcefully than any other creature; it's all to do with our arm, wrist and hand design, and it could legitimately be called another 'specialist' feature. But brains - and more importantly the complexity and organization of our brains - are definitely up there among our best specialist features, along with chucking stuff, opposable thumbs, walking upright and so on.  

Biological systems; what people generally think of as 'nature', are not, perhaps surprisingly from a human pov, the 'mother of all systems'; they in turn rely on chemical and physical laws and systems, and are moderated by circumstances of geology, climate and resource availability, but within a range of varied conditions and contexts life emerges.   

Like all complex systems, life has 'system requirements'. It also has master programs, of which evolution is one. Evolution is a program for the development of species, rather than individuals. Individuals do not evolve; species evolve. Individuals develop. Intelligence emerges.  

Biological life on earth, the formation of new species, the development of individuals, the emergence of intelligence; all of these events happen due to appropriate interactions 'between' systems. For examples, life emerges from the interactions between chemicals according to the laws of biochemistry and physics; in evolution, new species do not 'evolve' from biology just existing on its own, they evolve because of a feedback loop assessing what takes place in the interactions between life and its environment; in individual development, genetic changes occur only in response to perceived need.   

Likewise, intelligence emerges from appropriate interactions between an organism and its contexts. That is, intelligence emerges from the interactions between nature (appropriate biology) and nurture (appropriate context). I have called this 'appropriate context' a Matrix, and will talk more about it later on.  

The nature-nurture conglomerate

 Nurturing' means providing appropriate input to satisfy biological imperatives for further development, and 'nurturing behavior' in mammals emerges naturally through spontaneous interaction unless something gets in the way. Nurture is a part of nature. It is human nature to nurture; that's part of our culture, and our environment provides resources for nurture also. 

As biological creatures, we are part of nature, yet without nurture we can't develop, because many of the nurturing 'triggers' required for our development are environmental signals that originate from the natural world.   

All living creatures require some sort of nurture, or they die. DNA - nature - is sitting there filled with potential for developing intelligence, but it can never be actualized without nurture fulfilling our biological requirements; the most important requirement being appropriate conditions for further development.   

The initial nurture for mammals takes place in the womb, continues in the arms, on the backs and in the beds of those who care for us as infants, and is further enhanced by the natural environment and human culture once we are old enough to move about and play with stuff. Eventually we develop the ability to nurture ourselves, to nurture children and close ones in need, and we draw our inspiration for ongoing nurture from the pleasure gained from nurturing interactions.   

Providing nurture for development is achieved by fulfilling biological imperatives. The ultimate aim for all biological organisms living in reality is healthy growth and development, and this is what biology will continue to strive for until it is absolutely certain that it is no longer possible.   

Nature and nurture provide form and content; matter and energy, time and space, information and experience. Interaction between them results in the development of intelligent entities; in other words, us.


"The whole of science, and one is tempted to think the whole of the life of any thinking human, is trying to come to terms with the relationship between yourself and the natural world. Why you are here, and how do you fit in, and what's it all about?" 

  (David Attenborough)




Within this nature-nurture context, intelligence development happens in measurable phases. Each phase of the successful development and emergence of our minds is hard wired into our biology like a program just waiting for the (in this case epigenetic) signals to run.

Whether that program gets its signals and runs, or fails to get its signals and doesn't, or gets blocked halfway through is, as adults, up to us. Our quest here is to fully comprehend what those signals are, what they are for and how (and when) to provide them, for there are enormous benefits to be had by doing so; not to mention a great adventure.


"Sorry! I don't want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good morning! But please come to tea - any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Good bye!"   

(Bilbo Baggins, An Unexpected Party)




The unexpected party in human development is conscious intelligence. We do not just get 'a baby mammal' from a human womb; what emerges is also (potentially) an intelligent mind capable of self awareness, self direction, creativity and innovation.   

If something exists in biology it (a) fills a niche and (b) serves a purpose. This does not imply that it is doing anything ON purpose. Water does not 'want to' evaporate and then condense 'so that it can rain'. There is nobody out there in biology with a magic wand deliberately and consciously creating, planning and designing and 'making stuff happen'. 

 Except for us. As far as we know, humans are the only creatures who consciously attempt to direct or change our own mental states deliberately with drugs or certain behaviors. We began doing this (either) when we started learning about medicinal plants (or) when the first dude deliberately took the second dose of something neuroactive (the first dose having been probably accidental, or inspired by animal behavior). It is likely that 'first dose' was a pain killing plant, its more interesting properties discovered by accident, and the first ever reference to deliberate neurohacking in this way comes in the earliest writing we have.[11] Other mammals use medicinal plants,[12] but as far as we know they do not deliberately set out to 'get high'. Even lab rats hooked on cocaine don't sit around wishing they had another line; they simply respond unconsciously to a desire to imbibe something that improves the way they feel and reduces their anxiety. (You can't get wild rats hooked on coke, btw, but more on that later).   

Conscious intelligence is, as has been noted, one of our specialties. In simple biological terms, there is not much else about humans that is unusual; we are mammals, we are primates, and we inherit all the baggage that comes along with mammalian physiology including its biological needs, which dictate our need to breathe, move, eat, sleep and defecate. We produce live young and nourish them with milk, but so does everybody else on the mammalian block.


Our biochemistry is likewise similar to that of other mammals; we share exactly the same hormones with many species simply because 'biology works that way'. Same magic tricks, different stage.


The thing that makes us do unique, startlingly different things in the face of all this mammalian mundanity is our mind; that complex repository of imaginative ideas, inventions, creations and memories, that thinks of things such as, 'hey, if we plant the seeds from only the biggest yams, we get bigger yams, that's dead cool!' and, 'This wall is boring; I'm going to draw antelopes on it.'  

Intelligence is our particular specialization in the 'adaptation for survival' game, and our particular species is more imaginative, more creative and more consciously aware than any other creature that we know of.   

Humans were practicing science and art and being creative in everyday life even before we invented the words for science and art (or even, possibly, for yams and antelopes). We had to be. We have populated every type of ecological niche on this planet from permafrost to desert, we have lived through an ice age, survived thousands of natural disasters and if the need genuinely arose I have no doubt that we could adapt to live in space or under the sea. Adapting is what we do. We are the creature that can adapt to fill any niche; the ultimate adaptation machine, because we have the kind of minds we do. Many animals faced with something they want to do and can't, will attempt to find a way or make one, but nothing has our kind of imagination, and nothing can grasp objects or get around obstacles quite like we do, and nothing can grasp ideas or get around problems quite like we do.  

...Or create them. We have (or rather, the legacy of previous humans has) created more problems for ourselves than any other species too. That's the price we pay for this amazing imagination; it's vulnerable to costly mistakes. And the less well it develops and the less well it is maintained, the more vulnerable to mistakes it becomes. Our minds are nevertheless the most exciting features about us as far as evolutionary potential goes. 

Primary process – Imagination


"Imagination will often carry us to world that never were, but without it we go nowhere" 

 (Carl Sagan) 


 Foundation programs such as emergence, and master programs such as plasticity and epigenetics change hardware, wiring up the circuitry for new abilities as we learn and grow. I'll explain these during this chapter. The primary process running in terms of brain software, though, is imagination.


There are thousands of mythical, archaic and quite a few outright weird ideas online about both intelligence and mental development, but if you limit your hunt to genuine research papers, you won't find many scientists still claiming that intelligence is just IQ or 'intellect'.  


Evidence has shown that without imagination, emotional stability, memory, creativity, empathy or cultural skills, IQ doesn't really impact either our general intelligence itself or our success in life in general.[13] Certainly low IQ can limit an intelligence, but not a fraction as much as poor memory, lack of imagination, or anxiety and paranoia can limit intelligence.   

Intelligence is based firmly on the processes of imagination. It's this simple: you take imagination and you give it some input sensors and a set of protocols, and you have intelligence. You have something that can learn, because it can imagine what might be true. Something that can perceive, because it can imagine what might be out there. Something that can remember, because it can imagine what happened. Something that can predict, because it can imagine what might happen IF...    

To imagine is to make an internal image of. Imagination is not a system dedicated to fantasy and daydreaming, or to serve creativity, although it's needed for both those things. In fact, imagination is a broad-spectrum process required for everything, because it does everything. Without imagination we don't have intelligence. We can't even interpret perceptions; the signals from our senses, if we cannot imagine what they might mean. We can't make memories or plan strategies or do any learning, without imagination.  


Strictly speaking, you can't build an 'artificial' intelligence (AI) with imagination, because whatever you built would be a real intelligence, albeit on a technological platform. You set out to build Pinnochio, you program in imagination, and, whoops, you accidentally get a real boy. Paradoxically, you can't build an AI without imagination either, because whatever you built would not be intelligent; although you can build some very good artificial clever-technical-problem-solvers. This is a dilemma for AI researchers, not neurohackers, however.    

The issue has long been played with in science fiction; is Mr. Data, the android from Star Trek, a machine? Yes. Is he property, or is he alive and does he have rights? Well, he fulfills all the functions of life, so Starfleet, which advocates going looking for new life, decides that there it sits. Will we be so open-minded? 


"Everyone should have their mind blown once a day" 

  (Neil DeGrasse Tyson) 

Imagination is what propels us forward as a species – the mental function behind everything else that inspires our learning, expands our knowledge and brings us new ideas, inventions and discoveries. The essential unity between imagination and intelligence becomes glaringly obvious when we look at the abilities we consider essential for and indicative of intelligence; such as discernment, perception, association, emotion, empathy, memory, learning and prediction, because they all require imagination both to develop and to update and maintain, and the skills we think of as 'higher functions', things like discernment, perception, association, emotion, empathy, learning, memory, prediction, creativity, intellect, strategy, morality and judgment.[14]  

Imagination does everything. Far from being the mere repository of speculation on vague woo-woo fantasy stuff, imagination is our only link between reality in the real world and the central hub of our intelligence.   

Imagination is not about fantasy in the same way that abacus beads are not about jewelry (although they could be used for that). It almost might be concluded that imagination IS intelligence; since it is the core of all other processing, but human imagination is a rather special case because although all complex life is able to perceive, in our niche of evolution 'imagination' comes with onboard extras that enable complex perception and complex conceptualization.  

One of these is our species' evolutionary unconscious awareness; the core of our developmental memory that imagination relates all experience back to. Another is autonomous control over access to input (both internal and external) via the senses; we do not simply respond to what is given; we can consciously choose what our senses are given to process and what they shall ignore. 


Another of our specials is imagining possible alternative futures in order to plan ahead. Input from senses is data from the present, input from memory is data from the past, and we are also able to predict (imagine) possible or probable events of the future, which is a great help in strategy, planning and problem solving.  

Imagination is the ability to create images in the mind; the ability to form mental images or concepts. That's it. That's the core of intelligence. That's how we perceive everything, we turn binary input into images and the images are associated with meaning. Imagination is the translation program that processes all input, regardless of whether it is internal or external. Without it, we could not perceive anything. Sensory perception requires that we are able to imagine what we are perceiving, and without perception there is no processing. Sensory overload occurs when we are unable to imagine – unable to compute what our senses are receiving.   

Perception relies on the discernment of imagination to judge when incoming new percepts have enough points of similarity to our known concepts to be successfully recognized; to be correctly associated, categorized and given meaning by imagination. We have to imagine 'what is out there'. Our only input is binary signals, and we have to be able to imagine what they represent. Perception is ongoing image-generation from input. The reason you can see this screen and interpret these words is imagination. You are imagining (correctly) that they are there in the real world and what they mean.    

Not the least important thing imagination provides is our discernment of reality and associated 'meaning'. Discernment is the basic ability (feature) of imagination to recognize the differences between things and make correct associations between them, using past experience (memory), present experience and prediction. It is the basis of all association, judgment and decision making. You put it together with an 'importance weighting' assessed from embodied emotion, and you have a value judgment - you can compute 'benefit or danger'. 


Forming an image of what is going on 'out there' happens all our waking time in a healthy brain, completely unconsciously, every fraction of a second. We take for granted the results of the seriously complex process of perception, and the mind approaches input in a practical way much as any intelligent being does -by making an imagined model of reality, testing that model against reality, looking at the feedback and fine-tuning it for accuracy, prediction and behavioral control.


Imagination constructs and employs an inner model as a user-interface for computations about reality - and this is the core of all perception and all processing behind learning, memory and prediction. This is exactly the same process we use as intelligent beings when we consciously construct 'the standard model' of physics, for example. That's how science works. You make a model of what you think is going on, you test it against the real life evidence and you find how accurate it is. If it's good, your predictions based on it will pan out, if it's not good enough, some of it won't fit the facts and you have to fine tune it, getting ever closer to reality itself. In short, the mind uses scientific method and model-dependent realism to perceive reality; the two most useful tools we know for conscious comprehension are already built in to unconscious processing.


"Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not as in fiction, to imagine things which are not really there, but just to comprehend those things which are there" 

(Richard Feynman) 



The mind's model of 'reality in general' is largely unconscious; that is to say we are not aware of it ordinarily because it's automatic. It uses a graphic format and employs the brain's visual cortex along with 'mirror neurons' to scan what's in “the mind's eye”; and this is a key subprocess of imagination.  

All our senses contribute their own types of pattern from input; there may be a pattern of sound waves for audio input, a pattern of light frequencies from visual input, a pattern of chemical reception from taste receptors, and so on. The patterns represent concepts (such as 'music', 'sunrise', 'apple juice') and their 'meaning' to us will consist of partly universal associations and partly unique, personal associations.    

Imagining correctly what is going on from given input is the basis of what minds do. We make associations between items of input that form patterns in our brains, both literally (physiologically between our brains' synaptic connections) and abstractly (our memory consistently associates the same input patterns with the same meanings and concepts, although extra meanings may be added as we learn.) The patterns 'represent' the meanings.  

Associations themselves also have to initially be imagined. If we cannot imagine a connection between something new and what is already known, we cannot understand or mentally categorize the new thing. We don't have enough information to make a connection. 

Even emotional states - and their meanings - have to be imagined too; imagination must interpret what is going on when we experience feelings, taking clues from our perceived context and input. 'What is 'going on out there' is always relevant to the chemical changes taking place in our body and brain. A rush of hormones or neurotransmitters may indicate the approach of an exciting benefit or a serious danger, and imagination must discern which it is in order to trigger the signals for behaviors relevant to either excitement or alarm.   

Empathy is the ability to imagine what someone else is experiencing; not just in the emotional sense; empathy extends to the physical and mental states too. It is an important skill in learning because it allows us to imagine what it feels like to perform behaviors someone else is performing, and this is behind our ability to learn by copying others' behaviors (modeling).    

Learning anything new depends on imagination, and depends on the unknown new thing having enough points of similarity to make sense when compared against what we already know. If you put this together with the process of perception described above, you will realize that all perception is learning, in a small way. With every bit of input our minds are learning about what has changed, what is changing, what might change and what has remained the same in the world around us.  

Everything in your memory is either unconscious and innate (such as knowing how to breathe), or put there by imagination. Memory can only come from perception, and all perception is of necessity imagined. The contents of your memory are what imagination remembers. To recall correctly is to be able to imagine the correct pattern of connectivity between related concepts associated in the unconscious and call it back up into conscious awareness.

Functions of imagination 


All prediction is based on what we are able to imagine is most likely to occur. For example, can you imagine what word probably comes at the end of this --------? Prediction relies on memory of previous experience plus data from current input and it's about calculating probabilities.  

We are predicting all the time , we are learning all the time, we are remembering all the time. All thought (including all creativity, intellect and reason) relies on a combination of current input (perception), memory (based on previous perception) and prediction (based on memory plus current input). This is why imagination is at the core of intelligence.


"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand."

(Albert Einstein)



Systems - mind & brain

In this book, 'your mind' is viewed as the software embodied in the networks of your brain, ie, it is not anything wispy, isolated or supernatural; nor is it mere megabundles of unresponsive automatic calculators; your mind is designed by biology to be a dynamic, interactive, self-organizing, self-improving operating system.

The physical context of your intelligence is your brain. In prior works I use a model of six anatomical networks that together comprise the brain, which you can learn all about from the references if you want to,[15] however the only important thing to remember here is that if I say 'network 5' or network 3, etc., I refer to anatomical brain networks (not 'functional networks' such as, 'Default mode network', which I shall talk more about later on). 

The term, 'System' is interpreted here as it is in the computing sense; although brains are not computers, as far as science is currently able to tell, mind IS 'a group of related programs or processes', and this is the sense in which the term 'system' is intended. Being dynamic, self-learning and adaptive does not prevent a system from being a system, either in AI or in biological terms. 


This operating system is biologically evolved to run on a human brain living on planet Earth and it enables all the behaviors, thoughts and emotions that make us human. We are, if you like, programmed by biology. However, we also ARE biology, and we are self-aware biology, so in maturity self awareness modulates self control, and our minds are capable of directing their programming themselves. Once we understand HOW biology programs us, and what kind of code signals need to be sent, we can become to a large extent self-programming, and that means we can learn a whole lot of new stuff and experience some really cool things. And it's not necessary to learn a load of scientific details to achieve this; all we need to do is train up our inbuilt skills. 


The term, 'Your mind' in this book is also taken as meaning the same thing as your self. You. If your current model of 'self' uses the words 'soul' or 'spirit' or 'ghost' (either the holy kind of ghost or the one in the machine), that's also what I mean by 'mind', but I see no reason for invoking anything ethereal.


This perspective is based on the fact that your mind; your 'self' is a dynamic embodied system; not a static isolated thing. 'Mind' is a concept we have that represents an ongoing thinking process; which means in simple terms, mind is a process. It is not an object (although the brain is).

Process comes from the term, 'proceed', and in computing describes the sequence of states in an executing program. A process, program or procedure is a continuous interaction, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite systematic manner; a series of progressive and interdependent steps by which an end is attained. Life on earth is also a process. Biology is a process. The development of an individual is a process.

Processes perform operations which occur as series of events in context of systems; for example, life (as we know it) does its thing in context of biological systems using organic cells as a material platform, and burning fuel for energy. Processes follow operational rules defined by the properties (the essential or distinctive qualities) of the platform and the input and the available energy.

TO process means to manipulate data (or other agents) by systematically organizing them, carrying out operations on them, recording or making notations on them, following up with appropriate interaction, etc. This is what minds do. They are a process which processes things.

Mind is not separate from brain in the same way that hydrogen bonds are not separate from DNA - they are conduits for connections between bases, and mind is a conduit for connections between spaces - the environment being one space and brains being the other. Another way of saying this is that our mind emerges through the interactions between systems.

This means 'you' are a process; not an object. Your brain is a material thing, but even with regard to that, biology doesn't view itself in the way we look at it.   

For example, in real life as far as your brain is concerned, this is not a brain: 



THIS is a brain:

Your mind has its own model of the brain in context of experiential reality; based on memory, imagination and experiential feedback. Every nerve ending, every sensory receptor, every centimetre of skin, is, from your brain's point of view, a part of itself. And this is just a simplified snapshot of our wiring at a specific moment in time; in reality it is ever-changing, ever evolving,always dynamic and never still.


This is how your brain imagines itself, because this is where it experiences its own input coming from. The nervous system is, well, a system; it exchanges energy and information with everything it interacts with; it is not an isolated object.

Like it or not, in reality your mind (you) emerges from the interactions between environmental contexts, biological code, and meat. Note we use the current tense; mind emerges; it has not 'emerged'. It is constantly emerging, a process that keeps on unfolding, changing and developing. We maintain our minds' (and our lives') development by maintaining these interactions; we are constantly signaling our minds about what we need, in order for them to adapt and respond to 'the next bit' of our real life experience in a timely fashion.


How do decisions get made by meat? The same way wave propagation or synchrony occurs; decisions get made by conglomerates of ants, light particles or molecules in a system; the individuals or components in biological systems (in this case, brain cells) collectively use the emergence program to compute solutions to changes they face in their environments.[16] 

Humans are able to make accurate, coherent decisions even though the process underlying those decisions may involve billions of neurons, each with its own 'opinion' whether to fire or not based on what input it personally is receiving. There are no leaders in these collectives and different individuals have different preferences about where to go or what to do depending on input. 

Our entire realm of abstract conscious thought (thinking in words and numbers) rests on concrete biology embedded in biological laws, which are just as solid and unbreakable as the laws of physics and chemistry that they in their turn are based on. This is our foundation as intelligent living beings in a dynamic ecosystem.


Foundation programs and system requirements

'Nature' in literal scientific terms, is not just biology but the entire complex, self-organizing nest of systems within systems we call the universe. It is not a series of random events; it is a system; a set of self-organizing dynamic processes that follows the apparently unbreakable physical rules we represent in terms of words and equations. Physics, chemistry, geology, astrophysics and biology all study different but related dimensions of this megasystem.


Astrophysics, cosmology, philosophy, spirituality, evolutionary biology and certain psychedelic substances can show us the overall big picture of our existential foundations; such as, the comprehension that reality is just matter and energy interacting in spacetime, and human minds are bits of that reality trying to imagine itself.


However much fun such realizations may be, they're a bit cosmic and vague for everyday practicalities like diagnosing problems, strategizing and designing therapies and stuff. Here and now, human biology and biopsychology are the most useful domains when trying to understand the foundations of human minds.  

It is not exaggeration to say that a lot of us in western societies are not overkeen on our own biology. Some of us behave as though we would much rather our biology didn't exist; or at least that it could be all nice and clean like robotic machinery instead of involving squishy, organic, unpredictable and embarrassing messy bits. But the reality is, the unpredictable messy bits control the show; not only what sort of materials we are made of but also which genes are activated, which hormones are released, how we feel, how we behave, how we think and what we do. There IS no other source of genuine control apart from biology; because in reality all thoughts, all perception, all ideas, all desires, all behaviors and all responses that we are capable of having are rooted in biology and modulated by biological limits within the context of nature. 


To summarize; in the model of intelligence development used in this book, your mind is viewed as a dynamic system and the processes carried out by minds are viewed as programs.


A program is a sequence of instructions that enable a process which accomplishes a task. At the most basic level, brain cells are a collection of switches—where firing represents "on" and not firing represents "off". Everything that a brain does is implemented in this most basic of all numbering systems—binary. If you really wanted to tell a brain what to do directly (ie, without any exterior sensory interface), you'd have to do what the senses do - talk to it in binary, giving it coded sequences of 1s and 0s that tell it what sort of input is arriving and which instructions to execute. All of our senses provide the brain with binary input and that is all they can provide. There is no other type of input. The brain can deal with multiple parallel streams of incoming binary all the time and can conveniently separate or combine them to interpret data, which the mind understands in terms of a self aware entity with an opinion (science calls this the 'humanistic point of view'). 


The mind can also generate its own data and perform operations on it. It can create, as well as receive. Computers, on the whole, do not yet do this innovatively by themselves, and this is one of the ways our systems differ from ordinary software. 


Software, however, works in the same way everywhere; it is about representing information in different ways in order to manipulate it; to perform operations on it, to achieve a desired end. In biology's case, the desired 'end' is ongoing development, and programs are required both to pursue healthy development and for resolving any issues that obstruct development (for a simple example, if the system is getting too hot for optimal performance it will detect the danger automatically and adjust the system to adapt. That's how you maintain your system's optimal working temperature regardless of external changes). 


'Foundation programs' (programs affecting biology as a whole) are the processes of nature; natural phenomena rooted in physics, chemistry and biology, whose causality is automatic given the properties of natural forces and biochemical reactions, and whose operation is ordinarily unconscious. 


Growth, for example, is a foundation program encompassing many processes and changes in all individual life forms. Evolution is a foundation program affecting changes in whole species. The development of self-organizing systems (emergence) is also a foundation program affecting multiple systems including human intelligence.


'System requirements' are biological imperatives; the things that are necessary in order for biology to develop and run a healthy human mind. There are many system requirements, from the immediate obvious imperatives for life in general (such as oxygen, water and sunlight), to the physiological necessities such as adequate nutrition, sufficient natural sleep and exercise, to those needs requiring specific environmental triggers (ETs) for sensory, emotional, psychological and cognitive abilities at different phases of development. Successful neurohacking provides as many of these biological imperatives as possible, creating more and more optimal conditions for a developing intelligence to take advantage of.  

Neurohacking does not usually target foundation programs unless specific problems exist that relate to genetic inheritance and/or growth processes (such as cancer). Conversely, system requirements are a frequent NH target, as lack of their provision is often found to be the reason for poor results. System requirements are also popular NH targets for a great many improvements and also for repair. 


Foundation programs – Emergence 

Both biological life and intelligence development are emergent. 'Emergence' describes the behavior of complex self organizing systems, and emergent entities like our minds develop according to the process of emergence, which is very simple.[17]

Emergence is a 'Foundation Program' because it applies universally wherever there is matter and energy doing stuff in context of a spacetime continuum. The process of emergence shapes everything emergent; including life on earth (generally) and every creature's development (individually). 


A great many things emerge; it is not just biological systems such as bodies and brain networks that can have emergent properties, in fact it’s not even always living substance that emerges. Things like villages and culture can be emergent (and not just the kind of culture you find in the bottom of an old pineapple tin). An ants' nest is emergent, so are art, science, diseases, minds and language. We even have emergent computer software that can adapt and improve itself. And of course intelligence, psychology, learning, emotion and animal behavior, none of which can be pointed out in your average autopsy, are also emergent systems. Biology is an emergent property of chemistry, and psychological phenomena emerge from neurobiological processes. The whole proves to be greater than the sum of its parts.


Emergent systems 'emerge' from the interactions between 'agents' (items that are interacting; in the case of intelligence, our minds and their contexts or environments, including interactions with other agents). 


However, merely having a large number of interactions is not enough by itself to guarantee emergent intelligence; many of the interactions may be negligible or irrelevant to development, or may cancel each other out. In some cases, a large number of interactions can in fact work against the emergence of intelligence by creating a lot of "noise" (wrong input) to distract us from developmental "signals" (appropriate input for development). Interactions must be of particular types (archetypes) that the system expects and can recognize and use. 


Also, life is dynamic. When we shift to another phase of development, input must change accordingly. After illness or injury, the emergent agent (in our case, the mind system) often needs to be temporarily isolated from irrelevant input until it achieves enough critical mass of practice to return to resilience. Thus it is not just the sheer number of interactions between agents and contexts which enables emergence; it is also how efficiently these interactions meet biological needs. It is not the quantity of input that matters; what matters is the quality of input. Whenever interactions and input do meet biological needs, intelligence emerges. 

On phases: emergent phenomena such as minds do not follow a linear pattern of growth; they develop in phases and are always the result of (ie, literally caused by), interactions between one thing (or system) and another; an agent system (in this case, you) and a context system (your current matrix). For example, the development of our minds is the result of interactions between nature (us) and nurture (our contexts). Another way of saying this is that 'mind is emergent from the interactions between biology and physical reality', or, 'biological development requires environmental triggers'. The important thing to remember is that your development is an ongoing process; it is not a one-off 'predetermined' pattern of events with a beginning ('conception') and an end ('adulthood'). Development is a lifelong process going on (or trying to) right now, best imagined as a spiral of development which goes on all the time during both sleep and waking, and only ever stops when we die. 


Mainstream science has made (and still makes) a lot of false assumptions about the relationship between aging and brain degeneration. Studies into brain cell loss conducted in the 1950s to 1980s were based on the belief that a reduction in brain size with maturity indicates a loss of neurons, meaning that the brains of the elderly were (wrongly) estimated to have lost between 35 per cent to 55 per cent of their peak number. This is mistaking volume for density, but throughout the 70s and 80s this led to the general albeit erroneous belief that neuronal “fall out” is a normal part of aging and contributes to loss of intellectual prowess in old age. 


However, it is now known that these early estimates of brain cell loss through age were basically wrong. Although maturing brains get smaller, they retain most of their neurons and continue to generate more neurons (which become, of necessity, much more densely packed). Using more modern techniques that adjusted for density increase, studies through the 1990s and 2000s either found no neuronal loss or minimal loss with healthy aging. Combining data from all these different studies, it now appears well-established that cortical neuron numbers in humans decline very little during normal healthy aging. The best estimate is that aging leads to just a 2 to 4 per cent loss of neurons across the entire lifespan.[18] When neurons are lost, others may be recruited to do their work. 


Many mistaken assumptions are also based upon studying dysfunctional brains whilst assuming they are 'normal'. The labels that western society tags physical development with, such as 'childhood', 'adolescence', 'grown-up', etc., are arbitrary in light of both international studies and new discovery. 'Your mind can continue to develop for as long as you live' IS the reality. Or at least, biology has designed it to do so given ongoing correct input.[19]  

Retaining most of our brain cells does not mean our mental development automatically progresses with physical age. It doesn't, unless optimal input is given. In fact, it may well get stuck or degrade. Consequently, someone with a physical age of sixty may have the mental development average for seven year olds or for seventy year olds. So we can't assess or categorize mental maturity or intelligence development by physical age alone, and a great deal of the problems we now face as a species have arisen from doing so; because since society's institutions use physical age as a measure of theoretical maturity, mental age has gone by the wayside and what societies have really been instituting is a slow drift into 'Gubernare Infantem' - government by toddler.  


Physical age will always increase regardless of experience, but mental development will slow down, stall or fail whenever something gets in its way, and speed up or recommence whenever input and conditions are optimal.


Just when we believed we were all grown up, it turns out there's more up. In fact, there's a whole lot more up. That's what NH is all about; providing good input for your current developmental phase in order to enable full emergence.


An emergent entity is always more than the sum of its parts. You know this from childhood experience. Eating raw ingredients such as a lump of butter and some dry bread is not at all the same as eating buttered toast. Buttered toast emerges from the interactions between you, a source of heat, some bread and butter, and hopefully a knife. If you understand this, you can make your own toast AND you've experienced how emergence creates an agent that is more than the sum of its parts. Emergence is not just about adding ingredients; operations and processes – interactions - are performed between these ingredients within an appropriate context and the result is transformed into something which may be interacted with in new ways that the original ingredients could not.


The process (an interaction or series of interactions between agents and input within a context) has transformed the ingredients into something altogether of a different order. The whole is more than the sum of its parts, and can be interacted with in new and different ways. You have created a matrix from which toast will emerge. If you get any facet of the matrix wrong (too much or too little energy, wrong ingredients for input), conditions for toast emergence are not optimal, and burned, unpleasant-tasting or soggy bread may emerge as output instead.


Emergence produces unique combined effects; 'the whole is more than the sum of its parts'; and these effects are co-determined by the matrix context and the interactions between the emerging system and its matrix. Emergence can thus produce both helpful and harmful output, from the point of view of a wannabe-healthy and intelligent mammal. Culture, for example, emerges as an healthy context for our growth, but so do anxiety-driven societies, in which context many of us have to spend time in and which retard growth. Bacterial resistance emerges from the interactions between bacteria and antibiotics. Epidemics emerge from interactions between infected persons and animals in crowded or deprived conditions.   

Despite the fact that it permits our very existence, then, emergence cannot be viewed as some magical program designed to assist us and only do good; it is a mindless, automatic process; as inevitable, given the right conditions, as things tending to fall towards massive planets.


Pretty much everything about us humans is emergent, including our genome, our memory, imagination, intelligence and personality. And of course, our minds overall and their course of development. If there is a mother of all processes, a foundation program 101, it is probably emergence.


The emergence of intelligence itself is called noogenesis, and can easily be seen as a series of commands in a program; an algorithm with clear cut steps towards a desired output, using underlying simple processes that give rise to incredibly complex behaviors and effects.


The performance of an individual intelligent mind may also be studied as a program, comprised of a complex set of nested processes and sub-processes. 


Those wishing to study emergence in greater depth may follow up references.[20] For NH purposes, the most relevant thing to remember about emergence in terms of intelligence development is that it takes place in phases. Our minds develop in clear cut phases or 'steps' of emergence; intelligence development overall is a dynamic series of events punctuated by distinct changes (including measurable brain growth spurts), rather than a steady linear increase. For healthy development, all the required phases must BE developed, in the correct order. This means if we find out where we've already got to, we can know exactly what sort of input is needed to restart.   

Self assessment is for this purpose. If you think of development as an ascending spiral staircase, assessment is the thing that can tell you which step you are currently standing on, and thus what to do to progress to the next one.  

system requirements - matrices as contexts  

Discussing biological imperatives earlier, I mentioned what the first requirement was in rather vague terms - 'the appropriate conditions for further development'. This means establishing the system requirements by providing the optimal context for growing, repairing and maintaining a working intelligence.  


 A 'system requirement' for emergence is the existence of an appropriate context - one of a series of contexts in which it will take place - and without which it cannot develop. These contexts are what I call 'matrices'. A matrix from a series of matrices is the first system requirement for all emergent phenomena, of which mind is one.  

A matrix provides three things: a platform or 'safe space' which endures through time long enough for development to occur; energy sufficient for interactions between an agent and its matrix, and input to interact with.


A human fetus needs these three things, and so does a computer. The requirement for a matrix is not restricted to living systems; indeed, a matrix appears to be a common essential feature for the emergence of anything to take place. Interaction between agents and their matrices produces most of what exists, that we currently know about. 


For example, biology is a self organizing system, the geology of crystal formation is another. Both systems require a matrix, although only one is alive. The big bang was possibly the first matrix for the emergence of our universe (although, being human we continue to ask, what happened before that?) Matrices are required in any emergent process. More general examples of matrices are: the solar system, parents, our culture, a petri dish full of agar in an incubator, food items left in a warm damp environment, a womb, the sea, a plantpot full of warm, moist soil, your mind (can eventually become its own matrix), Miller-Urey's apparatus (the latter enabled the emergence of life only as far as nucleic acids. To get further, they would need a new matrix), and, feasibly, computer hardware (in which the emergence of AI is almost certainly possible).


Whatever develops; the emergent entity within the matrix, is 'embedded' in the matrix; separate from it but intimately connected with it and constantly interacting with it, because ongoing interaction with the current matrix is the biological imperative necessary for each phase of emergence to complete. When a phase is complete, the system 'phase-shifts' to a new matrix for development of the next phase, and at each phase shift the growing intelligence can do new and different things. At least, this is what it is supposed to do. This is what biology has designed it to do, and without these shifts; without these matrices, development cannot continue. For example, mammals have to leave the womb matrix and birds or insects have to leave the egg matrix, in order to continue development. 


The type of matrix shift determines the level of emergence. When a fish leaves the egg, the individual continues to develop in new ways. When a species of fish leaves the ocean, speciation occurs and the variety of life on earth continues to develop in new ways.    

"Matrix" literally translates as 'womb' in the Latin from whence it came, and is related to 'mater' (mother); 'matriarch' (chief mother); and 'matriculation', which surprisingly means 'enrolment in a matrix'. It is a word used with various specialist meanings across academic domains; in science it often means 'the thing or substance in the background enabling or containing the developing entity'. For example in the fields of cell biology (where it is the substance between cells), geology (where it means 'a mass of rock enclosing gems'), engineering (where it is a template for molding or casting), mathematics (where it is an array of quantities treated as a single quantity), and biological psychology (where it is a set of circumstances meeting three specific criteria that enable the emergence of intelligence). This last is the working definition in terms of neurohacking.


There are many matrices or 'sets of development-promoting circumstances' in biology; from the context required for the emergence of life itself to the essential circumstances for the emergence of different species, and for different levels of development in the individual (physical, physiological, emotional, psychological, etc.). 


A 'Matrix' in terms of intelligence development is a context essential for and catalytic to one phase of development, and is comprised of a set of conditions supportive of and directive in the development of that specific phase.   

The essence of Matrix theory for intelligence development is that intelligence will emerge wherever a matrix is provided - wherever the three criteria necessary for its development are met. These criteria are: A physical architecture that is protected from interference (a safe space from which to interact), sufficient energy (with which to interact), and a supply of new, unknown things as well as known things as input (to interact with). I have in past works shorthanded these as: platform, power and input. 'Appropriate input' means things to explore which are appropriate to our current and next intended levels of development. (This confuses some people, but it simply means that during perfecting our current phase we are also preparing ourselves for the next. Moving preps the system for walking, which preps the system for running, and so on.  

Wherever these three criteria are present in biology, a matrix exists in which intelligence can develop (and indeed if we consistently provide them it can be hard to stop it doing so).  


Nothing else is necessary. For as long as these things continue to be present, intelligence will continue to grow. Intelligence grows by increasing neural network connections and we now know that it can only do this by playing and learning; by interacting with new things, new contexts, and new events. But they must be consistently appropriate new things, new contexts, and new events.

The emergence of our minds is biologically designed to unfold step by step as a result of interaction between ourselves and our matrices, via behavioral and emotionally-weighted biological imperatives on the inside; drives, instincts and intent; and environmentally-sourced required input from the outside.


Matrices themselves are not very difficult to understand. They are just sets of conditions or contexts that provide the resources for one phase of development to take place. The developing organism is the 'Agent' and the Matrix is the context. This is relatively easy to grasp in terms of physics or physiology, and Matrix theory explains how matrices function within the context of both biological and psychological development.[21]


phases of development 

Mind development naturally occurs in ‘phases’, each phase resulting in new kinds of measurable cognitive properties and abilities. Phases are coordinated physically with brain growth spurts and mentally with new interests; necessary for the new kinds of learning and acquisition of new abilities that will take place in this and the next context. 

Not all creatures require the same number of matrices to emerge. Butterfly minds take at least four matrices to fully develop; an egg, food plants for the caterpillar, a safe place for a pupa to metamorphose, and the entire natural environment for the adult. (It IS the same mind, btw; we know this because adult butterflies can remember things learned as caterpillars.[22])

All of these contexts are nested within the basic 'natural environment' matrix of the natural world, as are our own.  

Adult humans provide matrices for the first phases of the emergence of baby humans. A Mammalian womb provides the platform, energy and input for the emergence of a baby mammal. The initial input (an egg and a sperm) is transformed into the emerging agent (a baby mammal), through interaction with ongoing input via the matrix. The egg does not just 'form the mammal'; it also forms the conduit between the matrix and the agent, in the form of the placenta and umbilical cord.  

Human minds require at least six phases that we know of to achieve maturity. Each matrix provides the context for one phase only, so we have to 'shift' matrix whenever a phase of development is sufficiently navigated. We shift from one context or set of conditions into another; this is what is meant by a phase shift or matrix shift.    


Here's a diagram of the six known phases of development according to Matrix Theory:  


This is the order in which our abilities are designed to be developed, in synchrony with the brain networks which enable them. If you want to learn more about brain networks, follow references, as I am not diverging into the domains of anatomy and physiology here.[23] 


Each phase of development requires a different matrix. Here are the six known matrices in order:   

Phase 1: Womb (Common to all mammals during their first stage of development.)  

Phase 2: Carers/parents and home/ local environment (notably, being carried about.)  

Phase 3: Natural environment (trees, plants, rivers, mountains, rocks, animals, weather.)  

Phase 4: Culture (note this does not mean society.)  

Phase 5: Mind (We are designed to become our own matrix during this phase of development.) 


Phase 6: Universe or 'reality'; (The 'parent system', in which all other systems are embedded.) 


Each matrix is embedded in all those that follow it, as our safe context for development.


In the emergence of intelligence, matrices are the contexts that house and induce the maturation of both brain and mind, and each matrix prompts the development of the next brain network and its associated abilities of mind at the same time as completing 'wiring up' the current one. 


Note the overlap between matrices/phases and networks - in phase/matrix 1 we develop not only all the essential connections for network one, but also round about a half of those for network two, plus the connections between these networks. Each network 'grows halfway' to meet the other. In other words, each consecutive phase develops two halves of different anatomical brain networks, their connections to each other, the wiring required for their processes, and prompts behaviors that give us practice for the networks' abilities and functions. All networks continue to develop after we shift matrix, but in terms of complexity of connections rather than physical growth; otherwise your brain would outgrow your head! 


This process of wiring up networks unfolds through a developmental cycle of behaviors and experiences which induce gene transcription during every phase; encompassing physical, behavioral, emotional, cultural, cognitive and psychological changes.


Each phase of our development unfolds with its own specialized selection of abilities and behaviors, and these develop sequentially, so it is important that our developmental triggers, causing the relevant genetic changes, arrive in the correct order. Brain growth spurts occur at each phase shift, when the biological focus of development – and our locus of consciousness – shifts.[24] Providing genetic triggers in the wrong order results in the loss (or failure to develop) of some abilities; for example, too much close-focus practice (such as reading or staring at screens) in eyes that are still growing (ie, before age ten) prevents long-distance vision from calibrating correctly, which is why most westerners can't see very well). Good input can become harmful when it arrives in the wrong order. If we wait for the right time (when eyes are finished growing) no amount of reading can impare long range vision. We could have both – if we did them in the right order. Currently, going to school makes us end up half blind. ...But more on this sort of thing later. 

Phase shifts

A 'phase shift' is coincident with both a change in the fundamental nature of the system and the movement or 'shift' of the locus of awareness of the agent (the 'agent' is the developing entity; in this case, your intelligence) from one matrix to another. Shifts in mental awareness and cognitive ability take place, together with changes in dominance within our functional brain architecture, beginning with mainly sensorimotor networks dominant, moving to the medial hubs, and finally our frontal cortex.[25] Human minds develop slowly, and the whole process takes decades.


There is a natural, genetically ordered progression of these phases consistent with the process of emergence in complex systems in general, and if this order is interfered with, development is slowed or halted and dysfunction can result. That is, if phase one is incomplete, phase two will be slowed down as energy and resources are still going into completion of phase one, and so on. Attempting to miss a phase, or trying to develop networks in the wrong order only results in stalling development as the system gets stuck trying to do too many things at once. This is a major issue in western societies, which prioritize rapid development of intellect at the expense of physical, behavioral, emotional and creative networks, and it often leads to depression or burnout.[26] 


In humans, self awareness becomes evident during the emergence of intelligence. Considering that we start our life as a single fertilized cell, exactly when we become self aware is quite an intriguing question, because the trouble is, mind emerges long before it becomes aware of itself. That is to say, as adults we are not only conscious, i.e., we have emotions and phenomenal consciousness, but we are aware that we are conscious. As small children we are quite obviously still fully conscious, but we are not consciously aware of this; we become self-aware during one of the phases of development, just as we become sexually aware during another.   


Since the process of emergence is taking place in the physical brain, and also taking place in intelligence, psychology and mind development, as well as the physical development of the body, we might expect to look to our DNA for a synchronized unfolding of these events controlled by gene transcription, and when human emergence is successful, that is precisely what we can observe. Physical brain growth spurts coincide neatly with phase transitions (matrix shifts) right at the time when new skills need to be learned, and synchronized brain growth speeds up or slows down to let the body catch up and develop its own skills and tools, just as the mind starts being inspired to use them. When you provide the things it needs, biology works with you. In ideal conditions it can all unfold like a beautiful symphony with perfect timing and synchronization.


But it probably won't, because 'ideal conditions' are as elusive in biology as 'ideal weather' is on holidays.


The thing about successful emergence is, it is never a definite given unless everything (sooner or later) progresses in the right order and without interference; moving from matrix to matrix. Like baking a cake or running a computer program, the algorithm is a series of steps that can only run to its full conclusion in continuing appropriate conditions. If at any point in development any aspect of a matrix is lost or incomplete, or if interaction with the matrix is blocked or ceases, emergence will stall and development may slow down or stop. But we're adaptable; the developing mind 'waits' until conditions become appropriate for further growth. The process waits for the biological triggers to arrive to tell it to continue running. Sadly, sometimes they never do. 


What does this model of mind development as a dynamic system; a related set of self-constructing, self-improving programs and processes, imply? That the system is never 'finished'. Intelligence development is lifelong. The system is designed to adapt itself constantly to changes; the only time it can stop running is if all change stops, and for biology the cessation of all movement is a clinical indication of death. If the system is alive it is either still developing, or trying to develop. The journey towards optimal intelligence never ends as long as life exists. 


If the process of development is never re-triggered, decline begins, and this is just as likely in a twenty year old as it is in a seventy year old. The western belief that aging inevitably causes mental decline is not based on facts, but on parochial studies of people in western societies. Expectations of decline with age and how sever it is likely to be are incorporated into the beliefs of the individual society.[27] Some societies expect very little decline, others expect a lot, and they vary with regard to when they 'expect' decline to start.


Saying mental decline is normal is equivalent to saying obesity is normal because it happens to most people in our society. Learned behavioral strategies, habits and beliefs can thus either encourage or discourage cognitive development. In particular, if aging adults embrace the same broad learning experiences and behaviors that promote children's growth and mental development, they will see an increase in their own cognitive health instead of the natural decline that people are told to expect. This means maintaining open-minded, input-driven learning (following our interests, learning new patterns, new skills, exploring the unknown), and also tenacity (determination, perseverance, practice, commitment, accepting of and learning from mistakes).[28] 


More specifically, a mature intelligence develops strong skills in the control and self regulation of many systems. If you believe that emotional control, behavioral control and physiological control (such as resilience against pain, heat, cold, stressors) are in the domain of special skills for superheroes, then you are mistaken – we all should (and we all can) develop these abilities. 


So that's the surprising news for those of you who thought you were grown up: there's more up. In some cases there's a lot more up. And we are all at different phases of development; because we've all had different experiences, and any developing system can be optimized, cared for, interacted with, given reliable, relevant input and enhanced in ways that speed up or enable its further development; or it can be ignored, corrupted, damaged or deprived in ways that slow down or prevent its further development. 

This does not mean that the owners of slowly developing or 'stuck' (or even, to some extent declining) minds have 'poor intelligence', it means that intelligence is currently getting obstructed and not being allowed to develop as intended. That this happens to most people much of the time may be obvious to you, or you may never have thought about it before, but understanding the possibilities presented by an ever-improving mind can give us a great deal of advantage when entertaining thoughts of improving ourselves, repairing damage, strategizing for the future, or simply having new, interesting experiences such that further mental development can bring.


Every aspect of a matrix matters. A safe space is established between 'too safe' (ie, restricting) or 'not safe enough' (ie, dangerous). Too much energy makes us hyper and attention suffers, not enough energy makes us lethargic and disinterested. No input (lack of experiences and thus of signals) or Wrong input (exposure to inappropriate signals which the program cannot use) causes development to pause and wait for relevant input, so time is lost while development idles, halts, and eventually declines.

Sufficient exposure to each matrix in the correct order results in optimal development. Lack of sufficient exposure to any of them or exposure in the wrong order compromises development.


The matrices required for human development in the right order are: the womb; our close allies/carers; the natural world; culture; our minds; the universe/reality. At each phase the program requires signals from the appropriate matrix. There is a list of matrices and their associated factors in appendix 1 that will assist with self assessment.

Matrices are systems; not objects

It is a mistake to view matrices as objects; in reality they are systems. A womb is a system which interfaces with other systems; it is not a solitary, stand-alone item. Likewise our carers' physical bodies are systems, and they integrate with other systems (other people, the environment, culture). Our environment is a living system; not a static thing or just 'background stuff'. Life is the main player on the planet's stage. Our own body system develops with an embedded mind system that equips us to interact with all other systems. 


Biological systems are never static and do not - indeed, cannot - stay the same; each of our matrices provides input as we develop, in ways that help us to complete the current phase and prepare for the next phase.   

Our general psychology; the way that we experience and feel about life, the formation of our personalities and perceptual abilities, and the emotional richness of our experience are all reliant on genes intimately tied to our biological experience (or lack of experience) of matrices. And the good news is that if you have enough intelligence to read this, you already have enough intelligence to provide your own needs, once you understand what they are. Mind is a self organizing, self-repairing and self-improving system. All it needs are the correct triggers presented in the right order to run the appropriate programs.


So where do these genetic 'triggers' ultimately come from? Our environment is the source of the biological signals which trigger the gene transcriptions required for each phase of development. 


master programs - plasticity, epigenetics, hormesis 

'Master programs' (affecting all complex animals) are ongoing processes that biology uses constantly throughout our lives to accomplish multiple tasks. For example, plasticity and epigenetics are considered master programs because they are necessary for almost all changes taking place in any biological brain. Hormesis is considered a master program because it is used across the board to increase our resilience to and protection from all manner of threats and stressors. 


There is no need to study epigenetics or plasticity in order to do NH, as long as you're prepared to follow the practical instructions. Chances are though, you're interested in your own software, so I include them here for those who prefer to have evidence-based reasons for following practical instructions. If you don't have time or interest sufficient to cover this, scroll down to the picture of the white rabbit and miss out the details on these programs.

plasticity - how minds change

Plasticity is the process in which appropriate use of brain networks results in improvement of those same networks. Conversely, wrong use of networks (or lack of use) results in degradation of networks (this is also plasticity). It is the means by which changes occur in brains, for better or worse. The picture above shows (left) neural network before practice, (center) same network after two weeks' practice, (right) same network after two months' practice. This sort of development takes place in whichever network gets enough practice at its skills.


Neuroplasticity or just 'plasticity' is the process responsible for your brain's ability to change in response to your environment and experiences. This process occurs from conception to death and once initiated it can take only seconds for new connections in the brain to begin to form.[29] 


Plasticity is the program which gives us the ability to grow, undo, adapt and change brain connections; in order to learn, remember, think and imagine. This process is responsible for our entire development and all changes. It is how all brain connections are constructed or dismantled, and by understanding just the basics about how it works you can deliberately change the actual anatomical structure and functional biochemistry of your own brain.       

Most people already know that our brain architecture and certainly our physiology can change our thoughts, emotions, experiences and behavior; however, few are aware that our thoughts, emotions, experiences and behavior can change our physiology. But it's true. This is why similar brain changes may be measured in people on therapy as those which occur in people on Prozac [30] and also why widely different methods (tech, drugs, exercise, diet) may invoke the same beneficial change.    

Our thoughts can change our brains, bodies, interests and emotions. If you don't believe this, think about some really sexy things for a moment (without touching yourself) and observe your body chemistry, energy levels, interests and mood start to change. It happens fairly quickly and the better your imagination is, the faster it happens. Your mind can make your body feel horny. There's proof from experimentation for you. Your thoughts have just changed your brain and body state. Hopefully you are able to change them back in time to read the rest of this chapter.  

The brain, which rewires itself in response to drugs, activities, thoughts, feelings and behaviors, also rewires itself because of experiences; the pathways that are used most often are strengthened and grow in density. The most popular example of this was studied in the last generation's (ie; pre-GPS) taxi cab drivers operating in large cities, whose memories were noted for being remarkable and whose brains displayed increased density of connections in areas related to memory and spatial navigation. Musicians show similar changes in areas not just responsible for sensorimotor responses (ie, for physically playing an instrument) but also in areas that process pitch, rhythm, harmony and synchrony. Note that such changes in brain wiring are specific in response to the types of activity, and can occur at any age.[31]  


Wherever we replace (rather than augment) our experience and practice with tech or other people, our natural abilities decline due to lack of use. Plasticity is sending messages of 'not necessary' and anything not necessary is dismantled in the ergonomically-conscious brain. For example, navigation (and with it, our sense of direction) is an ability that many are currently losing due to depending solely on technology rather than using it to complement human skill and experience. People who don't use books or computers and are educated orally have incredible memories by our western standards; it's necessary; everything they are taught must be remembered. Memory networks must develop intensively to acquire knowledge this way. 


Consider; if you were to abduct an average tribesperson from the Australian outback or the Amazon rainforest, plonk them down within a 30k distance from home, somewhere they have never been before and say, 'Go home', they would have enough knowledge not only to be able to figure out the most convenient route home but also how to acquire enough to eat and drink, avoid trouble and if necessary treat injuries along the way. They may also of course be very, very annoyed with you so I am not recommending that you actually do this experiment. The point is that humans can learn to 'read' things like the landscape and the weather and the stars and plant and animal life, and gather useful information from them in the same way that we can gather information from reading text, equations, chemical formulae, a computer program or a musical score.


It is not true, I should make clear, that technology automatically degrades our natural abilities; it is the manner in which we use technology which matters. Tech does not 'cause' any loss of ability, but the way in which we use (or misuse) it can. Even fifty years ago everybody could recall their best friends' addresses and phone numbers and birthdays without consulting a list. Can we do the same? A list should be there as our backup in case we forget, not so that we don't need to remember. Unexercised memory degrades.


Cultural interactions and personal communications also rewire the brain via plasticity, as does isolation from the natural world.[32]

Obviously things like injuries, anxiety or dysfunction will also cause plasticity-based changes, but it's not so obvious that even our beliefs, fears and expectations cause changes in brain wiring and affect the magnitude of our emotional weighting and all of our consequent responses. And so, of course, can neurohacking.    

Whilst we note that many different techniques can alter brain wiring in beneficial ways, the important point here is that so do fairly ordinary everyday activities.[33] The brain is dynamically rewiring itself all the time, and neuroplasticity is not a slow process. After a couple of weeks with effective NH methods you should see measurable beneficial changes, and if you do not, your methods need revising.


Interestingly, plasticity is one of the ways in which it becomes apparent that brains are not computers. You wouldn't expect to get up in the morning to discover new bits of hardware that the software in your computer had constructed overnight, for starters. But plasticity isn't just a matter of construction of new hardware, because new skills and mental abilities emerge as the mind, much greater than the sum of its parts, continues to emerge by running programs on that hardware and directing the development of brain.


Intelligence requires many brain functions, functions are handled by networks, and networks are all made of neurons connected by synapses. We all have the same networks, and we all have the potential for their use. But the particular way in which your neurons are connected is unique to you personally and that difference - and the uniqueness of your individuality, are caused by epigenetics.[34] 



The two mice in the picture have identical genomes. The one on the left was fed a different diet (high GI).This simple, single environmental change has triggered changes in genetic expression, not only affecting the mouse's size and weight but also health, lifespan, behavior and coat color. 

If your knowledge of genetics stops at basically sorta knowing what DNA is, here's a rapid update: Your DNA; your genome, is donated by your parents at conception, but the expression of your genome is not fixed; it is dynamic; that means it changes all the time depending on various environmental and behavioral factors. 


This does not mean that new genes are created as you go along. There is no spontaneous generation of 'new genes' or 'different genes'. Darwin made it clear yonks ago that inheritance alone does not give rise to evolution. Heredity does not cause ANY changes in genes, or allele frequency or genotype frequency or phenotype frequency in spacetime. It's an equilibrium. So how do genes change?


You've probably heard that our genome does not differ very much from that of other primates, and not so very different from mice. The reason DNA can be so similar across such widely varying species of life on earth, despite all their obvious differences, lies with epigenetics. 


During early development, epigenetics is what enables stem cells to 'decide' what sort of tissue to be (lung; liver; brain; muscle; etc.) Our genome contains all of the information necessary for each of our cells and tissues to develop and function properly. Written in DNA, each individual gene encodes for certain protein construction tasks; whether they are constructing structural proteins that help define a tissue's shape, an enzyme that catalyzes the chemical reactions of life, or a signaling protein that cells use to communicate. 


Like a dimmer light switch, each gene can be turned on (expressed) strongly or weakly, or turned off entirely. Individual cells have different gene expression profiles, which enables them to have the different functions that make them part of different tissues. For example, an immune cell expresses proteins that allow it to recognize harmful intruders, while a neuron expresses proteins that enable it to pass nerve signals to its neighbors.[35]


Epigenetics is about what controls the expression of genes, or 'genetic expression controllers'. Many sections of our genome contain controllers; sections which used to be called 'junk DNA' or 'introns'. If 'junk' stood for 'Just Unknown', this would have been a more accurate description, because these controlling factors in the genome were unknown until relatively recently. 


Only a small part of your genome contains actual genes ('exons'); the rest consists of what might most usefully be termed operators ('introns'). For biology, genes are the data to be operated on, and the operators are epigenetic factors, triggered by input from the environment. If you find this confusing, think of genes as very complex songs (the data) and introns as very creative sound engineers (the operators).


Some of these non-genetic sections of your genome (called 'enhancers') are at least 200 base pairs in length and are 100 percent identical in the genomes of humans, mice and rats. These elements have been perfectly conserved for over 80 million years; ever since these mammals shared a common ancestor. Genetics explains why we are so similar, and epigenetics explains why we are so different. 


We can even do cross-species transfers (swapping genes with other species, even plants and animals, has occurred frequently throughout evolution). In fact widespread transfer of genes between species has radically changed the genomes of today's mammals and been an important driver of evolution. This process is called horizontal transfer; differing from the inherited parent-offspring ('vertical') transfer.[36]  

Epigenetics studies changes in our gene expression and the factors which cause them. 'Epigenetic triggers' (ETs) are the factors which control changes in the expression of your genome, in response to input from the environment (including other people) and your behavior.


ET 'phones home  

ETs are the keys neurohackers use to reinitiate developmental programs. Changing the expression of your genome can change a great many things about you - whether you are fat or thin, depressed or happy, failing or succeeding, anxious or secure, confused or confident, and ultimately, healthy or ill, developing or declining.


Exciting though this may seem (and it is fucking awesome), knowing more about how genome expression works doesn't mean that we can control very much of it; this is leading-edge research and although new discoveries are being made as I write, there is still a long way to go before conditions like Cancer or Cystic Fibrosis can be treated epigenetically. Even though a brief look at the diversity of life on earth shows us the diversity of things it can do given enough practice, biology has had millions of years in which to practice and we don't have that much time. There are many limiting factors affecting how biology can adapt. 


An important word about hype is also necessary here - fields of new discovery are always the targets for both woo-woo and journalistic hysteria about their likely results, so we must keep perspective by keeping up to date with reality in real science, and the reality is that although we have a great deal more to learn, we do have solid evidence that beneficial epigenetic changes can be made right now using environmental factors (or through drugs, methods and technology.[37] 


Some of the environmental triggers causing changes in gene expression have been known for some time; one of the first to become apparent was dietary input. This was first noticed in bees, because the only difference between a queen and a worker bee is in gene expression. Their genomes are identical, yet one is sterile and the other reproductively prolific, one is several times bigger than the other and lives for twenty times as long. What controls this developmental difference is a single food item; royal jelly. Only queens are raised exclusively on this diet, and epigenetics programs in these required differences. Bees, almost literally, 'are what they eat'.[38] 


Humans also respond to epigenetic signals from dietary input which can change our gene expression for better or worse. These epigenetic changes are heritable; i.e., they can be passed on to our offspring.[39] 


Another environmental trigger is temperature; first noticed because the sex of many turtles, lizards and alligators isn't determined by the chromosomes they inherit, but by ambient temperatures during a specific phase of development.[40] Temperature affects human gene expression in different ways; for example we experience epigenetic changes when exposed to cold temperatures, resulting in as a greater percentage of brown fat distribution. This epigenetic change is also passed on to our offspring, who will automatically express genes for greater resilience to cold. If there proves to be 'no need' for it in the offspring's environment, it may well turn off again.


Note that there is no particular 'method' required to accomplish resilience to cold and increased brown fat production; all that is needed to make this change is sufficient exposure, which in this case takes round about a fortnight. It doesn't even need to be that cold; hanging around in the nude at 10 degrees celsius for fourteen days automatically switches on the required genes, regardless of whether or not you're doing any yoga, hypnosis or breathing exercises. After 2 weeks' exposure, you just stop shivering and start using brown fat in different ways to keep warm. It's a type of resilience called acclimatization, and is a similar process to high-altitude adjustment in populations living at altitudes with thinner air. You don't have to do anything; you just have to be there having the experience (or convince your body that you are there having the experience). Epigenetics responds whenever a need is detected; regardless of whether that need is natural or engineered. This is why hacking works. Programs have to respond to programs.

While cold stress has the epigenetic effect of activating brown adipose tissue, heat stress is an important way of optimizing heat shock proteins (HSPs) inside your cells, supporting biogenesis of more mitochondria and supporting your brain and heart health.[41] Over time, HSP are damaged and need to be renewed. An accumulation of damaged HSPs can lead to plaque formation in your brain or vascular system, so it's something we need to avoid. Heat stress hacks help to prevent this chain of events.[42]  


Heat also has some profound effects on your brain. Your body responds to heat through the production of dynorphins,[43] which sensitize your brain to endorphins that have a mood boosting effect, and heat also increases the production of growth factors and brain derived neurotrophic factor.[44]


Every change in the body and brain requires a change in genetic expression, and all genetic expression relies on relevant environmental signals to make those changes.   

Epigenetic triggers usually impact the senses and register on sensory receptors. Cells, the fundamental units of life, are equipped with a variety of environmental recognition systems. Aside from substances such as chemical signals, environmental factors such as pressure, gravity, temperature, sound and light all affect how your genes work.[45]


Some triggers occur through internal means, such as through nutrition or drug absorption. Others require specific behavioral patterns. The good news is there are a great many easily accessible natural epigenetic factors from which to select our favorites. 

I'll give more details about epigenetic triggers in other chapters. 


we are all different  

We all have measurably different genomes, and we all have different experiences which moderate the expression of our genes. We also all change over time.

  "You are all different!"  

"Yes, we are all different!"  

..."I'm not."  

(Monty Python's Life of Brian)


To know what our individual developmental needs currently are, we can do a Functional Analysis as mentioned above. Our individual needs, likes and dislikes will also change over time, so it's wise to do a regular FA. There is no reason to go into NH 'blind' when all this data is available to us.  

This is a fundamental truth in biology: we are all different. This seems obvious, but most of us are not aware how very different we are. Nor are we likely to be aware how unique our DNA really is, partly because all the public are told about DNA is about genes, and genes are only a part of DNA; the part that's organized into chromosomes; and partly because it's often difficult to turn the light of clarity of one's own species, from the inevitable human perspective. A useful trick, therefore, is to imagine oneself as, or assume the persona of, an alien anthropologist; looking at humanity as a species. With an 'outside' perspective we can view our organism impersonally; just like we do when looking at other species. It's also a useful way to look at the truth about yourself. So, IF you were an alien anthropologist - (sorry; that should be Xenoanthropologist, of course, because from your pov you'd be studying aliens) - THEN what would you see? Why are all these individuals from the same species with exactly the same DNA so different?  

Right from the bottom up, DNA is a great example of ecologically-driven evolution adapting complex systems to work symbiotically with other complex systems. Forget any ideas about celestial programmers. Nothing with a conscious mind (at least, not a sane one) would have designed anything this way.  


It all sounds fairly sensible at the start; your genome has around 19 to 20,000 genes.[46] Fair enough; that's around the same as many other mammals, including chimps and mice.  

...Then you find out that the organism with the largest known genome is thought to be the Paris japonica, a rare flowering plant. This is a bit of a surprise. Obviously then, genome size is not the intelligence factor here. What else do we discover?


Well, less than 2% of your genome is made up of the bits of DNA that everyone gets excited about - exons or 'coding genes' (genes that encode proteins). However, over 98% of your genome is not used to encode proteins. 


Of the bits that are exons (your 'genes'), about half of the proteins made are enzymes, and the other half are structural. On top of those, your genome contains around 500 miRNA genes (genes that make micro RNAs) and a shitload of non-coding RNAs - around eight times more than our protein coding genes.


Now we get to the 'differences' part... SNPs (pronounced “snips”; Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms), are the most common type of genetic variation among people. Each 'snip' represents a difference in a single DNA building block, called a nucleotide (C, G, T or A). For example, a snip may replace the nucleotide cytosine (C) with the nucleotide thymine (T) in a certain stretch of your particular DNA.


Snips occur normally throughout your DNA, and there are at least three million SNPs in your genome. Most commonly, these variations are found not in your genes, but in the DNA between genes. When snips occur within a gene or in a regulatory region near a gene (and only around 15% of them usually do), they may play a more direct role in differences between us by directly affecting gene function.


20% of your three million SNPs are yours alone; they have never turned up before and are unique to you personally. Around 2,000 of them will each change a protein sequence somewhere. Around 12% of them will be likely to disrupt some protein function somewhere, and around 11% of them will be sitting in genes with clear disease associations or risk factors.


As well as this, we each have thousands of different copy-number variants. Copy number variation is a type of structural variation; specifically, it is a type of duplication or deletion event that affects a considerable number of base pairs so that we get more, or fewer, copies of a repetitive section of genome.[47] Approximately two thirds of the entire human genome is composed of repeat sequences,[48] and copy number variations play an important role in generating extra variation in the population as well as in disease phenotypes.[49] 


On top of all this variety in our nature, there is immense variety in our nurture (our epigenetic-triggering experiences). Different lifestyles, environments, events and habits will all trigger different areas of genetic expression and gene silencing. Our brains consequently have strongly individualized architecture, which is why we can look at MRIs of brain density in different areas and predict some of the owners' behaviors (such as, person X probably plays a musical instrument, or person Y is probably an accomplished mathematician.)


Individual experiences and life circumstances thus influence, through a chain reaction of responses, the anatomy of the brain. Experiences and behaviors interact with our genetic make-up so that over the course of just a few years every person develops a completely individual brain anatomy, as unique to the individual as are fingerprints.[50]


Clearly anything that changes brain anatomy changes brain functioning. Different experiences stimulate different patterns of activity in different brain networks. In fact, bits of an individual neuron's activity record can be reconstructed by analyzing its gene expression pattern—the particular genes that are now active in the cell. In terms of neural software, expression patterns reflect how long a neuron fired in response to a stimulus. The longer a neuron's activity persists, the more genes are turned on by it. Exposing cells to a brief stimulus turns on genes that respond quickly, while a sustained stimulus turns on both fast-response and slow-response genes.[51] 


With neat simplicity, the same algorithm applies to all sensory domains; for example in the visual cortex, a brain region that handles vision, brief light exposure turns on fast-response genes, and longer exposure turns on both fast- and slow-response genes. (This rule applies equally to random activity in neurons, good or bad input, and lack of input). Genes are being turned on by everything we do. Not all of these are beneficial. Our task as neurohackers is to direct them so that they are.


There are two other major types of neuronal activity variation: regularity (frequency of firing), and 'bursts' (periods of rapid firing with long gaps in between.) There is a gradient of firing regularity that corresponds closely to the functional domain of the area; firing patterns are regular in motor areas, random in visual areas, and bursty in the prefrontal area. Thus, signaling patterns play an important role in function-specific cognitive computation.[52]  

Taking all this into account, it is clear that although we are all the same in that we are all mammals and we all have human DNA, we are all very different in the details of our genetic expression. That's why no method can work for everyone; it's why some people can't respond to some drugs while others do, some of us can't digest milk, exposure to TV screens makes certain unfortunate individuals vomit, and others among us risk death if they eat a peanut. It's not 'your genes', it's epigenetics.   

Knowledge as experience

Knowing about your own personal system details is obviously beneficial to your surviving and thriving, for the same reason most of us know what blood group we are and what we are allergic to. But if we want to invoke deliberate epigenetic changes, it's essential to know as much about ourselves as possible; and this does not mean collecting facts (although facts are useful) it means collecting knowledge from experience. It means doing stuff.


Experiential learning is unconscious or 'implicit learning'. Ask an average person to explain the grammatical rules of their language and they’ll likely have no clue where to start in terms of academia. And yet, they do know them – or at least, well enough to form coherent and correct sentences. This kind of unconscious acquisition of abstract knowledge is an example of 'implicit' learning through experience. It is recognized as a core system that underlies learning in multiple domains, including locomotion, language, music and even learning about the physical structure of our environments. People of all ages learn better when experience preceeds information (for example, seeing an object before hearing its description).[53] 


An individual's skill at implicit learning bears no relation to their IQ or working memory abilities. It is driven by independent, unconscious neural processes that also underpin the explicit learning of factual information, which is linked to IQ. What's more, an excess focus on explicit learning (what we usually do) can impair our ability at implicit learning. It's that 'Goldilocks' thing again; too much of one thing and not enough of the other. We have to get it 'just right'.[54]


You definitely know how to collect knowledge from experience, because you have done quite a lot of it already; through experience of paying attention to your body and the world you now know how to walk, talk, feed yourself and can predict that you want to pee before it happens. Through experimenting you have also probably figured out what your body does when you drink alcohol, when it is likely to vomit, and how to avoid this. Experience can tell you a lot more than facts; it can tell you how a situation feels, and through this the processes of mind, just like the processes of the body, become consciously recognizable to us. Once we recognize from experience what is happening, then we can achieve greater control within that situation. Remember, a lot of NH is about control. 

Epigenetic effects differ according to the limitations of specific tissue growth rates. Brains can begin to change within seconds, muscular tissue changes in hours, bone tissue changes in days. However permanent change always requires a critical mass of specific input and regularity of input.


Summary of this section:

Plasticity and epigenetics are master programs which construct, maintain, repair, adapt and change brains. Brains are dynamic and constantly changing. 


Neurohacking is about achieving comprehension (and thus control) of the factors that allow us to direct changes and develop in the manner our biology is designed to do, because this is the only way we can experience a high quality of life. Many epigenetic factors are behaviors.    

It may help memory to think of epigenetic triggers as 'ETs', unless you are Steven Spielberg. 

reciprocal causation in biological programs

A popular theme in biological programs is reciprocal causation. Here is a simple example of how this manifests in biochemistry:  

You have three chemicals; A, B and C. When they mix together:  


Chemical A + Chemical B forms Chemical C

Chemical A + Chemical C forms Chemical B

Chemical B + Chemical C forms Chemical A 

In a reversible reaction as the products are used up, the forward reaction slows and as more product is formed the reverse reaction speeds up. After a while the forward and reverse reactions will occur at the same rate.


This type of thing goes on all the time in biology. It's a way of achieving a dynamic equilibrium, and reciprocal causation occurs in macro as well as micro domains. 


For example, on an environmental level, organisms change their environment, and their environment changes organisms. On a behavioral-emotional level, what you do changes what you feel, and what you feel changes what you do. On a physiological level, you maintain temperature homeostasis by initiating cooling programs when you are too hot, and warming programs when you are too cold. On a cognitive level, what you believe changes what you think, and what you think changes what you believe.  

Reciprocal causation is often effective in homeostasis by using pairs of chemicals that automatically adjust levels of each other; an increase in one causes a reduction in the other and vice versa. Many neurotransmitters behave in this way, and that's the only important thing to remember.  


up and down regulation 

Up- and down-regulation is a great example of plasticity achieved via epigenetics.  


In order to respond to changes in their immediate environment, all living cells have the ability to receive and process signals that originate outside of themselves, which they do by means of proteins called receptors on a cell's surface. When such signals affect a receptor, they direct the cell to run processes, such as dividing, dying, allowing substances to enter or exit the cell, or creating necessary proteins. 


Individual cells often receive many signals simultaneously, and each requires a different type of receptor. A cell's ability to respond to a chemical trigger depends on the presence and number of receptors specifically sensitive to that trigger. The more receptors a cell has that are specific to the trigger, the more the cell will respond to it. 


So, a particular cell is a only a 'target cell' for an input trigger if it contains functional receptors for that trigger, and cells which do not have such a receptor cannot be influenced directly by the input at all.


Receptors are protein molecules created via epigenetic mechanisms, and their number can be automatically or volitionally increased, or 'upregulated', when the signal is too weak, or decreased, or 'downregulated', when it is too strong.[55] The production of neurotransmitters and their associated 'recycling' enzymes may also be up or down regulated accordingly. 


Downregulation is the process by which cells decrease production of a cellular component, such as a receptor protein or signaling transmitter, or receptors themselves, in response to an external stimulus. The complementary process that involves increases of such components is upregulation.


An example of downregulation is the decrease in the number of cellular receptors to a trigger molecule, such as a hormone or neurotransmitter, which reduces the cell's sensitivity to that molecule. This is why we are able to 'acquire a taste' for things which on first trial seemed too hot, too salty or too bitter-tasting; first experiences followed by regular trials help to calibrate our senses in order to avoid overload or understimulation. We adjust our sense of taste to adapt to whatever food we eat. We normally do so unconsciously, but can learn to do so volitionally. The same trick occurs with other senses.


Automatic downregulation of receptors happens when receptors have been chronically exposed (ie, regularly for a long time) to an excessive amount of signals, whether chemical or mechanical. This results in desensitization or internalization (recycling) of some receptors. Upregulation of receptors results in either super-sensitized receptors or a greater number of receptors. 


This is why you can get really drunk on two beers when you have not had any alcohol for months. A major reason for drug-related deaths stems from not knowing about downregulation; people sustain a habit for months during which downregulation creates a craving for larger and larger amounts. They 'get used to it'. If they suddenly stop, so does downregulation. Months of abstinence triggers upregulation – and when suddenly the user takes what used to be their 'usual' amount', the system overloads and the user dies. This is a notable problem with cocaine use as well as alcohol; it's no good thinking 'but I used to use a whole gram/drink ten pints a night' when you've been off it for 6 months.   

Up and downregulation are used deliberately in NH in the process of hormesis, which in practical terms is nowhere near as complicated as it appears in the picture below.  



The short definition of hormesis is: ‘a process in which exposure to a low dose of a chemical agent or environmental factor that is damaging at higher exposure induces an adaptive beneficial 'resilience' effect on the cell or organism’. Several different terms are commonly used to describe specific types of hormetic responses including 'preconditioning' and 'adaptive stress response'.[56] 


It is easy to understand hormesis in terms of muscular activity, chemistry and mechanics. Examples include exercise, which makes us stronger and therefore resilient to more exercise; practice of any skill (including learning to walk, etc.), where learning from mistakes makes us more resilient against mistakes; vaccination, where exposure to a weakened form of a pathogen makes us more resilient against the pathogen, and regular drug use, where down-regulation due to an excess of receptor triggering causes hormetic 'immunity' to a drug's effects or reduces the strength of its effects.  

In the fields of biology, medicine and NH, hormesis is defined as 'an adaptive response of cells and organisms to a moderate (usually intermittent but regular) challenge to the system'.[57]


By 'challenge' it is meant that the experience must stretch (but not strain or 'stress out') the system. The difference between stretching the system and straining the system must be understood absolutely before NH can affect safe changes in the system, because stretching the system leads to processing improvements, whereas straining the system leads to breakdowns.  

Challenging the system in any way automatically sends signals indicating 'need' to the genome. However, the genome is aware that some 'needs' will go away all by themselves without the necessity of expending any energy, so it tends to ignore initial or mild signals, trusting that conditions may change of their own accord and alleviate the problem. Signals have to be either strong or consistent and repetitive before an epigenetic response occurs (hence the fourteen days' exposure it takes to trigger genetic switches in cold exposure).


Also, we have to find the correct level of exposure to effect stretching but not to cause straining and breaking. Ten degrees celsius is stretching the system; ten degrees lower can kill you unless you train up for it. Consequently when trying chemical substances we start with the lowest dose producing a measurable effect.  

Most signaling inside the brain relies on neurotransmitters; chemicals which attach to cell receptors, and these too are targets for hormesis.  

For example, ordinary exposure of brain cells (neurons) to the neurotransmitter glutamate during their normal activity results in small amounts of energetic and oxidative stress accompanied by activation of hormetic pathways that help the neurons cope with more severe stress; however, excessive activation of glutamate receptors can kill neurons in a process called excitotoxicity.[58] Thus, pretreatment of neurons with a low concentration of glutamate can protect them from being damaged by a higher concentration of glutamate.[59]  

Other forms of hormesis include:  

Breastfeeding (where a small amount of antibodies for pathogens imparts long term immunity to diseases each feeder has encountered throughout their lives). Effectively, this means the greater the number of different people feeding a baby, the greater his/her immunity to disease in general will be, and it explains a lot of 'baby-sharing' practices amongst both tribal humans and other mammals. I have watched cat families 'swap kittens' for feeds when more than one adult is nursing. Kittens with the munchies head for the nearest (not necessarily dearest) lactating cat.    

Vaccination (where a small amount of weak substance or pathogen imparts short term immunity to stronger doses of the same substance or pathogen.) The eradication of smallpox was a victory for this method. Profiteering from unnecessary, one-size-fits-all and/or damage from contaminated vaccines is a tragedy of similar proportions, because it puts people off getting essential vaccinations.[60] Vaccination is a 'second-best' alternative to breastfeeding or other methods of natural immunity acquisition, because the protection is temporary (hence 'boosters') and must be repeated for life. Natural acquisition of immunity is both free and lifelong. For example, children allowed to play in nature, and gardeners, are usually naturally immune to tetanus, because there are tiny amounts of the bacterium in the soil they are regularly exposed to. Once the system is given a sample of something, it will proceed to construct antibodies against anything harmful in it. But again, this sampling must be consistent and regular enough to trigger gene transcription, producing the proteins from which the antibodies are made. Breastfeeding for three months or playing in the garden once a month just doesn't cut it. The non-westernized average for breastfeeding is four years; a totally different matter when it comes to immunity.  


Ischemic preconditioning (producing resistance to the loss of blood supply, and thus oxygen, to tissues of many types).[61] Exposure to low doses of certain phytochemicals can protect against chronic disorders such as cancer, inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases, and possibly reduce risk of disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.[62]  

Immunotherapy (a treatment for allergies, which uses hormesis to gradually increase exposure until the individual’s immune system is essentially ‘retrained’ to tolerate exposure without producing an allergic response. This process is also known as specific immunotherapy). As babies we get primed with IgG antibodies from mother and IgA antibodies from breast milk which provide “passive” immunity; our only protection for the first two years of life. After that, we need to begin activating our own adaptive immunity – our own IgMs and IgGs. Essentially, an “under-trained” adaptive immune system, such as that of someone raised in a sterile environment, is more prone to confuse harmless foreign bodies like pollen, dog hair, peanuts, eggs, or insect venom, with parasites. Insufficient exposure to the real world of soil, grass, lakes, trees, animals, etc., means an immature immune system. If the process of educating the adaptive immune system is not sufficiently activated in early childhood by contact with the natural world, the immune system remains underdeveloped. Then the response to foreign bodies relies more on the “emergency” system, using IgE antibodies instead of IgG, IgA, or IgM antibodies. It is these IgE antibodies that tend to overreact, causing allergies, asthma, and autoimmune disorders.  

Other forms of hormesis currently being researched:  

Low doses of certain poisons (protect against higher doses).[63]  

Exposure to moderate noise (protects hearing against noise-related damage later).[64]  

Low radiation dosage (protective against higher radiation dosage).[65]  

Cold and heat exposure.[66]  

Moderate exposure to cats (protective against asthma).[67]  

Moderate amounts of alcohol (appear to be hormetic in preventing heart disease and stroke).[68]  

Exposure to toxins.[69] (Naturally occurring environmental neurotoxins may also exert neuroprotective effects when administered at low doses).[70]  

Drugs (Some natural and synthetic molecules, such as celasterols from medicinal herbs and curcumin from the spice turmeric have also been found to have hormetic beneficial effects.)[71] Such compounds which bring about their health beneficial effects by stimulating or by modulating stress response pathways in cells have been termed "hormetins".[72] The concept that drugs exert their beneficial effects by hormetic mechanisms of action is very old.[77] This applies to many drugs that are derived from plants and microorganisms including various treatments for infections, cancers and pain. Also, synthetic drugs thought to act on a specific molecular target may exert “off-target” hormetic effects.[78]  

Evidence supports hormesis as a mechanism responsible for the health benefits of a variety of lifestyle and environmental factors. For example, moderate regular exercise increases the resistance of musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, nervous and digestive systems to injury and disease,[73] a well-established means of improving health through diet is maintaining a relatively low caloric intake, or low GI diet.[74] Emerging evidence also supports a role for hormesis in the health-promoting actions of several widely-studied chemicals in fruits and vegetables.[75] The reason that vegetables, fruits, tea and coffee can improve brain health is that they contain 'noxious-to-insects' chemicals that are produced by the plants hormetically to protect themselves from being eaten.[76] Such phytochemicals trigger hormetic responses in brain cells which can improve brain function and may increase the resistance of neurons to injury and age-related neurodegenerative disorders.  

Accumulating evidence suggests that the reason regular play and learning are beneficial for the brain [80] is that they activate hormetic pathways in neurons. Similar to the changes that occur in muscle cells during exercise, neurons engaged in challenging activities are subjected to repeated bouts of calcium influx, free radical production and moderate (aerobic) energetic stress.[81] As a result, transcription factors are activated,[82] and the expression of several major classes of cytoprotective (brain-cell- protecting) proteins is increased, including neurotrophic factors, heat-shock proteins and others.[83] As with other organ systems, exposure of the cells in the nervous system to mild and transient bouts of stress may also increase their resistance to the adversities of aging.[84]  

Hormesis can be initiated by exposure to organisms to extrinsic stimuli such as exercise, dietary modifications and environmental factors including heat and low doses of toxins. In addition, cellular hormesis can be induced by activation of intrinsic signaling pathways by (for example) changes n energy availability, hormones and neurotransmitters. Such hormetic exposures typically result in mild cellular stress involving free radical production, ion fluxes and increased energy demand. In response, adaptive stress response pathways involving kinases and deacetylases (for example) and transcription factors are activated in cells resulting in the production of hormetic effector proteins that protect cells against more severe stress. Examples of such stress resistance proteins include antioxidants, protein chaperones, growth factors, and proteins involved in the regulation of energy metabolism and cellular calcium homeostasis.  

In terms of hormesis, large and small doses of most agents elicit opposite responses (but note that 'low dose' is still clearly definable and measurable and offers no excuse for homeopathy). A dose that elicits a response which separates positive from negative effects is called the 'threshold dose'' or the 'zero equivalent point' (ZEP) for that specific parameter in that specific individual at that specific time. 'Low dose' means any dose above zero and below ZEP, and dose rate is also important.[79] Everyone is different, and 'low dose' for us personally is something we must ascertain through experimentation, starting with the lowest and working up. Nor will it remain the same throughout your lifetime.

Hormesis and resilience are fundamental concepts in evolutionary theory. From the beginning through the present time, life on earth has existed in harsh environments in which cells are often exposed to free radicals and toxic substances. To avoid extinction organisms have developed complex mechanisms to cope with the environmental hazards.


Typically, such hormetic response pathways involve proteins and transcription factors which regulate the expression of genes that encode cytoprotective proteins. Several major categories of hormetic stress resistance proteins have been identified including the heat-shock proteins, antioxidant enzymes and growth factors.[85] In some cases organisms have even adapted to harness the chemical properties of “toxic agents”, incorporating them into cellular signaling or metabolic pathways. Examples include oxygen (critical for respiration), carbon monoxide (serves as a signaling molecule in neurons), iron and selenium (potentially toxic metals that are critical in low doses for the function of many different enzymes).   

   Hormesis is a 3-step-process 

Hormesis is not a 'special ability'; the process is integral to the normal physiological function of cells and organisms. However, there is more to hormesis than meets the eye; for it is not a straightforward 'stimulus-response' program (two-step process), but a 'stimulus-response-trigger' (three-step process). Understanding this can save a lot of wasted effort.


It is not true, for example, that IF we experience small amounts of stress hormones as youngsters THEN we will adapt more easily to more stressful situations later in life. Exposure to stressors alone will not trigger hormesis or increase resilience (and nor is exposure to pathogens sufficient for immunity. Exposure to pathogens simply spreads pathogens). The important factor for hormesis is the tying together ever more efficiently of stimulus-response procedures with upgrading immunity and building resilience in the system. The system learns how to recalibrate under stress. This means that stress hormones MUST be followed by relaxation hormones, and exposure to pathogens MUST be followed by an immune response; a vaccination MUST be followed by antibody responses, or hormesis will fail to take place and resilience does not increase.    

IF we experience small amounts of stress hormones AND there is a successful relaxation response following them, THEN we will adapt more easily to more stressful situations later in life.  

I'll explain more about system modality (stress/relaxation) shortly, but put simply, stimulus + appropriate response + hormetic adaptation leads to increased resilience. Stimulus alone does not work. A little bit of stress can never protect against a lot, but a little bit of stress-relaxation will do so very effectively.  

We cannot trigger hormesis without the second step. This can be difficult to grasp before we have studied system modes, so we're going to look at those right after this section. For now, here are a few examples to help see the basic pattern: 

A million small stressful experiences will not build any resistance against stressors, but every experience of stress-relaxation will. In the same way, a million experiences of hunger will not make us resilient to missing meals or fulfil our nutritional requirements, but every experience of hunger PLUS eating food will.


Neurotransmitters and hormones, together with their associated emotions, usually come in pairs. Stress and relaxation, desire and fulfilment, excitement and calm, seeking and finding. The experiences which build mental resilience confirm our unconscious knowledge that stress is always followed by relaxation. Only the full cycle with complementary 'balanced' neurotransmission prompts the appropriate gene transcription, enabling the protein production that builds denser neural networks and greater resilience.  

Exposure to moderate amounts of UV light followed by enough time in the shade allows the production of melanin; the skin-darkening pigment that protects us from UV damage. This is an hormetic effect. However, long term exposure to UV light with no respite merely results in sunburn, with no increased protection when the sunburn heals. And an increased risk of skin cancer.  

A system running in dynamic equilibrium always strives to maintain balance, and what hormesis provides is practice for the system at maintaining balance under pressure; opportunities to recalibrate and extend personal limits and, importantly, memories of the overall procedures which can successfully restore balance.  

Thus we have to cast aside old-paradigm, one-track thinking such as, 'exercise builds muscles', 'studying makes you smarter' or 'eating good food gives you optimal nutrition' -no, it doesn't. Exercise AND relaxation is what builds muscles. Studying AND natural sleeping is what builds strong long-term memories and denser knowledge databases. Eating AND digesting good food is what provides optimal nutrition. Desire AND fulfilment is what makes great sex. In every case, if you cannot achieve the latter, the former is useless to you (and if it continues without respite, is harmful. Over-studying with poor sleep is as bad as overeating with poor digestion, or over-stressing with poor relaxation). Overall, we need nature and nurture; genetics and epigenetics, working in synchrony to build an effective intelligence.  


Hormesis is a 3-step process: stimulus + response + hormetic adaptation = resilience.


resilience can cross domains 

A common observation in studies of hormesis is that exposure to low levels of one type of hormetic agent can protect cells/organisms against more than one type of stressor.  

For example, exposure of cells to mild heat stress can protect them (after recovery) not only against more heat damage but also against oxidative stress or toxins such as cyanide.[86] Similarly, stress induced by excitement followed by relaxation can protect against damaging levels of stress induced by danger later on. This 'cross-modal' aspect of hormesis in biological systems is one explanation for the broad spectrum of benefits from exercise, natural sleep and dietary restriction across domains.[87] Research suggests that health benefits of many phytochemicals may also be conferred by cross-modal hormesis mechanisms in which a phytochemical epigenetically activates one or more adaptive cellular response pathways.[88]  

This is very important for input control because we can increase our resilience by exposing ourselves to exciting input, rather than harmful input. The same networks, the same process, is dealing with both exciting and unpleasant stressors. Thus, ANY stressor will suffice to build resilience, so it's up to us to choose our favorites. Exciting stressful activities are followed by appropriate relaxation, and resilience to more difficult stressors (including the nasty kind) is thus built.  The experience of moderate stress-relaxation from repeated exposure to beneficial stressors (for example, moderate exercise plus relaxation), can effectively improve our ability to respond to more harmful stressors, both concrete (such as injuries or influenza) and abstract (like emotional trauma or bereavement).[89]  

The best potential approach therefore for increasing or enhancing resilience in a healthy system is regular exposure to moderate and exciting challenges followed by adequate relaxation and assimilation. This phenomenon is often viewed as a form of behavioral immunization, and although the term 'behavioral immunization' is borrowed from the field of immunology, the adaptive immune system in stress resilience does have a significant role in developing coping responses to stressors. Immune deficiency results in an impaired ability to cope with mental stressors, and psychological or emotional stressors can also impair immunity if anxiety arises (high stress hormones compromise immunity).  

Since any stress/relaxation context will suffice to build resilience against other kinds,[90] we may choose the most exciting, fun mind-stretching pursuits that we enjoy. We do however need to practice them regularly, as we need to be continually stretching our limits and then relaxing sufficiently in order to grow.  

There are exceptions. Obviously we should NOT take on any 'extra' hormesis-related hacking if we already have problems that need to be resolved and that are already overstressing the system. For example, vigorous exercise or cold shock exposure is not sensible when dealing with an infection or trauma. Hormetic hacking should be restricted to times when we are already feeling well and not suffering any symptoms. Of course, hormetic methods may be used to solve the existing problem, as this is working with biology to affect a cure, whereas in times of good health hormetic hacking may be employed for prevention. 



"Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!"

(the white rabbit, Alice in Wonderland)





   key techniques 1 - self assessment 

For those with little time to spare, and the rest of us who have come this far... 

Two questions dominate the beginning of NH: 'How can I tell where my development got stuck?' and, 'How long does it take to catch up?' 

How can we tell where development got stuck?  

Intelligence is constructed in phases because each one supports those that come after. If you think of intelligence as a structure built in connected layers, the ideal structure would be something like this:  


Each set of abilities relies on those supporting it. 'Motion' network (red) runs universal processes such as attention, awareness, concentration and sensory perception; all essential abilities which everything else relies on. All input enters through this network, via the senses.


This model of a perfect structure of development however is not what many of us end up with. Our own developmental structures probably look more like these:


We cannot run software without the hardware wired up to run it on. When supporting programs are not fully functional, complex processes cannot fully develop. This is why, even if we have developed later modules (for example creativity or intellect), it's still necessary to go back and 'fill in' the gaps left in original development. Without the foundations, later networks have fewer processing domains to connect to. When connections are not used they die back, and performance is limited. Filling in the missing networks also enables the skills you have already to develop further. Once they have something to connect to, later networks will grow those new connections and continue to develop as intended.


Therefore, we need to know where our development first encountered obstacles in order to know where to start in NH. There are several ways of finding this out.  


One way is self-assessment. To help you self-assess, there is a list of related skills for each network in appendix 1 at the end of this book. However, if you have poor self-assessing skills this will not help you (for example, if you consider you are 'competent' at self-care, but you only have one bath per year and never wash your clothes, you've made a poor assessment). 


If you have friends also interested in NH, you may be able to help assess each other, but not all of us want to share our current state of mental development with others, no matter how trusted they may be. Thus a private Functional Analysis is still recommended even if you have previous experience of self assessing. If you do one every few months or so, it's also a good way of charting improvements. You can find a free self assessment here:[91]


On an experiential level, you can use the information in appendix 1 to consider the main skills and abilities associated with each phase of development. If you already have all the skills that are intended to develop during one phase, chances are there are no 'missing links' in that phase. If there are notable skills missing or weak, biology may be holding back further developments which rely on that network until it receives the necessary signals to proceed.   


Human skills are many and varied:



Skills that you find difficult to master indicate where development may have been interrupted.

There are also symptoms and problems related to being stuck in a particular phase. For example burnout is related to problems with earlier phases (1-3) and poor working memory is related to problems with later phases. Apathy and fear of physical exercise is indicative of a problem in phase one; Agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) indicates a problem in phase two, and so on. 

I have included this info in the appendix. 

How long does it take to catch up?

This varies wildly, as it is influenced by many factors, including where you got stuck, regularity of practice, quality of practice, current mental and physical health, environment, habits, lifestyle, age, stressors, and so on.


In optimal conditions, with optimal input, each phase of intelligence development takes roughly four years to complete ('roughly' because everyone is different). Assuming six matrices, that means intelligence cannot be fully developed until at least age 24 (and that's in optimal conditions, which nobody gets).


It is unrealistic therefore to expect to suddenly become a genius within a few months' practice, especially if you are under 24.

You cannot and should not try to practice using networks that haven't developed yet; that's as pointless as trying to eat nuts before your teeth come through, or trying to walk when you are still in the womb. The advantage of being young is that there is often less damage to repair, however, if you begin NH at a later age, the advantage there is that at least some of each network will already be developed, and this reduces the time required to complete them. 


If half of a network is already developed, for example, then it would take only two years (under optimal conditions) to complete that network. That's why a functional analysis is so helpful; we know how much of each network is 'built already', and we know where to start reconstruction.  

The mere desire to change is not sufficient to achieve it. In fact, failing to support one’s goals with concrete behavior appears to backfire, leading to personality and behavioral change in the opposite direction to what was desired.[92] 

known parameters for measurable improvement

The majority of people generally start to see benefits when they practice for about 15-20 minutes a day, 4-5 days a week, for around 3-4 weeks. 


If you do less than 12 minutes a day, or less than four days, you don’t really see any benefits.

Overall, experience of regular practice at techniques like anxiety-reduction and input control brings the fastest results. I'll explain these techniques as we go along.


Input choices strongly affect speed of results: Different quality of input and different frequency of practice will achieve different degrees of success and different rates of success; that is to say there are optimal ways for providing signals which you will have to practice less often, or other, less optimal ways of providing signals which you will have to practice more often, so some methods will be slower than others and some methods will be easier than others, but all eventually lead to the same results if the input requirements are met.  Here's an example of how that works in the domain of physical exercise for optimal physical fitness: 


Quality of input


Time needed in practice to maintain physical fitness


Running as fast as you can barefoot across uneven terrain outdoors in a natural environment (optimal input)


3 minutes, 3 times per week


Running as fast as you can on concrete with shoes on outdoors


3 minutes, 4 times per week


Walking across uneven terrain with shoes on outdoors


20 minutes, 3 times per week


Walking on concrete with shoes on outdoors


20 minutes, 4 times per week


Walking indoors/ on exercise machine with shoes on (less optimal input)



30 minutes, 6 times per week

Note that you still get the same results; some methods just take longer. On the whole, the quality of input signals reduces the practice time necessary to achieve beneficial change. So the methods you choose should be the best ones you can find that you personally have time for in your particular situation and that you feel most comfortable with. Some good input is always better than no good input![93]


Most common NH problems 1 – snapback 

Often occurs when things seem to be going well for some time, possibly we've had a couple of nice breakthroughs and are on the verge of congratulating ourselves for doing so well when one day, everything goes to ratshit and we notice ourselves behaving in old, stupid ways and we think, bugger it, all that NH practice and there's no real change – I was fine as long as everything went my way but the moment things don't go exactly as I want, or anything unexpected happens, I'm back to the old 'spoilt brat', dumb, anxious behavior. NH is pointless!   

This is snapback. Old behaviors or habits of thought that we thought we'd discarded or gotten under control suddenly arise to haunt us and all the old anxiety/anger/fear comes flooding back. We often feel ashamed at our failure and disheartened, and not at all interested in continuing.   

Solution: experience and 'a priori' awareness of the process

We either learn to recognize snapback from experience, or someone already experienced breaks the welcome news that this IS normal during reestablishing development, and IS a temporary situation. 


During snapback we fail to take into account some important changes: 

Firstly, snapback is a sign that we have become much more aware of ourselves and of our behavior. Failures to behave or feel like we want to are something that we can now detect, whereas initially we had no idea there were even any choices about how to behave or feel. This higher awareness has to develop before control; for how can we hope to control something if we are not fully aware of it? 

Secondly; this pausing and introspection is the first part of control. You did something daft – and you stopped and now you are thinking about it. The first part of control is that ability to stop, and think about it. The next part is to initiate the countermeasure for snapback, which is achieved by using a technique for changing operational modes and considering calmly where you have got to in the process – a series of events that is to be completed in the right order - and then 'getting back on the horse' (proceeding with the next bit of the process.) I will explain operational modes and how to change them in the next chapter.


The process of development works like this: practice begins growing new connections in the brain that enable more beneficial behaviors. At first, these new pathways are used hesitantly (just like learning the coordination of muscle movements when you first start trying to ride a bike) but with practice, those connections become denser and stronger and more easily used. 


What is supposed to occur next is that intermittently, the behaviors become automatic (that moment when you can ride a bike without thinking about it) in ordinary everyday conditions. 


Once we have got this far, response speed builds up with further practice. But sometimes, something unexpected takes us by surprise (like a sudden sharp turn with somebody coming the other way) and there is a momentary lapse of reason; our body has no known maneuver for avoiding an obstacle; there is no prior experience to call upon; it panics and tries to revert to what it did in the past (what it would do if we were running rather than cycling), and down we fall. 


The process works the same way whether we are trying to learn cycling, or navigating emotional relationships, or dealing with difficult behaviors. We fall, but we are aware of why we fall and we are aware that we do not stay fallen; we get back up and allow our unconscious to work things out while we continue practicing with good input to help it do so. If we make mistakes, we need extra relaxation then continued practice. This helps the process of automation – making new behaviors and ways of thinking automatic – instead of snapping back to old, outmoded ways of behaving and thinking.    

This problem may also be addressed with input control, which I'll focus on in another chapter. For now, your NH practice is to assess yourself and ascertain on what level you ought to begin. Once you know that, clear choices can be taken with fast results for you personally, rather than on a 'one-size-fits-nobody' basis. 


   Hopefully this introduction to systems and foundation programs has helped you to grasp the basics about mind software and the sort of processes it runs. When you've got your self assessment, take a look at operational modes in chapter 2.   


Refs chapter 1

1 http://www.neurohackers.com/index.php/en/menu-left-nh-library/menu-left-nh-tutorials AND http://www.neurohackers.com/index.php/en/menu-left-workshop/75-cat-ws-icmm

2 David P J Osborn; 'The poor physical health of people with mental illness'; 



4 Liedloff, J; The Continuum Concept; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuum_concept http://www.continuum-concept.org/

5 liedloff CC; AS ABOVE AND de Keijzer C., Tonne C., Basagaña X., Valentín A., Singh-Manoux A., Alonso J., Antó J.M., Nieuwenhuijsen M., Sunyer J., Dadvand P. Residential Surrounding Greenness and Cognitive Decline: A 10-Year Follow-up of the Whitehall II Cohort. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2018. AND Rush of wild nature lowers PTSD in veterans, at-risk teens environment & cognition

6 Carl Rogers; https://app.shoreline.edu/dchris/psych236/Documents/Rogers.pdf AND http://www.wynja.com/personality/rogersff.html

7 https://ed.ted.com/on/SuXNvTzp ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar%27s_number

8 Dawn of agriculture took toll on health; https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110615094514.htm

9 The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being: Evolution and the Making of Us

10 The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien 

11 The earliest reference to drug use is in 3,400 B.C. when the opium poppy was cultivated. The Sumerians referred to it as Hul Gil, the "joy plant”  https://www.deamuseum.org/ccp/opium/history.html 

12 Monkeys and Medicinal Plants; http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/clever-monkeys-monkeys-and-medicinal-plants/3957/ AND How other primates self-medicate – and what they could teach us; http://theconversation.com/how-other-primates-self-medicate-and-what-they-could-teach-us-59869

13 Sternberg, R.J. (2002). Successful intelligence: A new approach to leadership. In R.E. Riggio, S.E. Murphy, & F.J. Pirozzolo (Eds.). Multiple intelligences and leadership (pp. 9-28). New York: Psychology Press

14 http://www.neurohackers.com/index.php/en/menu-left-nh-library/menu-left-nh-tutorials/280-art-nh-tutorial-7 ;


15 http://www.neurohackers.com/index.php/en/menu-left-nh-library/menu-left-nh-tutorials

16 E.R. Brush el al., "Conflicts of interest improve collective computation of adaptive social structures,"Science Advances(2018) advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/1/e1603311, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1603311; "How living systems compute solutions to problems" January 17, 2018 https://phys.org/news/2018-01-solutions-problems.html

17 Steven Johnson Emergence; 

https://en.wikipedia.org /wiki/Emergence%3A_The_Connected_Lives_of_Ants%2C_Brains%2C_Cities%2C_and_Software AND Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen; The collapse of chaos https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Collapse_of_Chaos AND Serim Ilday et al. Rich complex behaviour of self-assembled nanoparticles far from equilibrium, Nature Communications (2017). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14942 ; "Identifying the minimum requirements for the emergence of complexity" May 1, 2017 


18 Myths and truths about the cellular composition of the human brain: A review of influential concepts; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28873338/
19 neurogenesis
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurogenesis ; plasticity https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroplasticity

20 Jack Cohen & Ian Stewart; 'The Collapse of Chaos'; https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1190222.The_Collapse_of_Chaos AND Steven Johnson, 'Emergence'; https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2296.Emergence

21 Alex Ramonsky; 'Ive Changed My Mind'; http://www.neurohackers.com/index.php/en/menu-left-workshop/75-cat-ws-icmm

22 https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13412-butterflies-remember-caterpillar-experiences/

23 http://www.neurohackers.com/index.php/en/menu-left-nh-library/menu-left-nh-tutorials

24 Herman Epstein 'Brainstages; The Roles of Brain in Human Cognitive Development'; http://www.brainstages.net/stages

25 H.C.Lou, J.P.Changeux, A. Rosenstand; 'Towards a cognitive neuroscience of self-awareness' ; Lou et al, 2015

26 Jesus Montero-Marin, Javier Prado-Abril, Marcelo Marcos Piva Demarzo, Santiago Gascon, Javier García-Campayo; 'Coping with Stress and Types of Burnout: Explanatory Power of Different Coping Strategies' ;


27 Rachel Wu et al. A Novel Theoretical Life Course Framework for Triggering Cognitive Development across the Lifespan, Human Development (2016). DOI: 10.1159/000458720

28 'You're not too old to learn that: New theory suggests that adults can combat cognitive aging by learning like an infant" May 3, 2017 https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-05-youre-theory-adults-combat-cognitive.html

29 "New brain connections form rapidly during motor learning." ScienceDaily, 30 November 2009;  


30 Michael Nadorff; 'Biological psychology' Mississipi State University 31 Susan R Barry; 'Does musical training reorganize the brain?' ; https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/eyes-the-brain/201006/do-musicians-have-different-brains AND 'Changes in London taxi drivers’ brains driven by acquiring ‘the Knowledge’, study shows' ; 


32 "Study finds linkage between social network structure and brain activity" May 2, 2017    


33 'Juggling enhances connections in the brain'; http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2009-10-12-juggling-enhances-connections-brain AND Victoria M. Indivero; 'Learning languages is a workout for brains, both young and old'; 


34 Bob Weinhold; 'Epigenetics: The Science of Change';


35 Maria Ninova et al. Su(var)2-10 and the SUMO Pathway Link piRNA-Guided Target Recognition to Chromatin Silencing, Molecular Cell (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2019.11.012AND  Maria Ninova et al. The SUMO Ligase Su(var)2-10 Controls Hetero- and Euchromatic Gene Expression via Establishing H3K9 Trimethylation and Negative Feedback Regulation, Molecular Cell (2019).

DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2019.09.033 

36 Atma M. Ivancevic et al, Horizontal transfer of BovB and L1 retrotransposons in eukaryotes, Genome Biology (2018). DOI: 10.1186/s13059-018-1456-7

37 Mary Regina Boland et al. Female Reproductive Performance and Maternal Birth Month: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis Exploring Multiple Seasonal Mechanisms, Scientific Reports (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-57377-9 AND Influence of environmental exposure on human epigenetic regulation; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4286705/ AND https://www.lindau-nobel.org/epigenetics-how-the-environment-influences-our-genes/ AND The Impact of External Factors on the Epigenome: In Utero and over Lifetime;  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4887632/ 

38 Researchers identify new components of the epigenetic 'code' for honey bee development Genome Research (2018).

DOI: 10.1101/gr.236497.118 

39 Transgenerational Rescue of a Genetic Defect in Long-Term Potentiation and Memory Formation by Juvenile Enrichment;


40 Chutian Ge et al, The histone demethylase KDM6B regulates temperature-dependent sex determination in a turtle species, Science (2018). DOI: 10.1126/science.aap8328 

41  Scientific American July 2008 

42  Journal of Cell Science, 2004;117:2641 

43  Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2014;136(18):6608 

44 Journal of Neuroscience, 2006;26(15):3899

45 'Cells rockin' in their DNA: Team finds genes suppressed by sound stimulation'; "Cell type-specific suppression of mechanosensitive genes by audible sound stimulation" PLOS ONE (2018).

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0188764 

46 https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/human-genome-shrinks-to-only-19-000-genes-21e2d4d5017e Ref:

arxiv.org/abs/1312.7111  The Shrinking Human Protein Coding Complement: Are There Fewer Than 20,000 

47 Sharp, A. J.; Locke, D. P.; Mcgrath, S. D.; Cheng, Z; Bailey, J. A.; Vallente, R. U.; Pertz, L. M.; Clark, R. A.; Schwartz, S.; Segraves, R. (2005). "Segmental Duplications and Copy-Number Variation in the Human Genome". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 77 (1): 78–88. doi:10.1086/431652. PMC 1226196. PMID 15918152 

48 Koning, A. P. J. D.; Gu, W.; Castoe, T. A.; Bazter, M. A.; Pollock, D. D. (2011). "Repetitive Elements May Comprise Over Two-Thirds of the Human Genome". PLOS Genetics. 7 (12): e1002384. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002384. PMC 3228813. PMID 22144907

49 Mccarroll, S. A.; Altshuler, D. M. (2007). "Copy-number variation and association studies of human diseases". Nature Genetics. 39: 37–42. doi:10.1038/ng2080. PMID 17597780 

50 Seyed Abolfazl Valizadeh et al. Identification of individual subjects on the basis of their brain anatomical features, Scientific Reports (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-23696-6 

51 Kelsey M. Tyssowski et al. Different Neuronal Activity Patterns Induce Different Gene Expression Programs, Neuron (2018).

DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.04.001 

52 Shigeru Shinomoto et al; 'Relating Neuronal Firing Patterns to Functional Differentiation of Cerebral Cortex';


53 Timmy Ma et al, Object-Label-Order Effect When Learning From an Inconsistent Source, Cognitive Science (2019).

DOI: 10.1111/cogs.12737 

54 Priya B. Kalra; John D.E. Gabrieli; Amy S. Finn; Evidence of stable individual differences in implicit learning; 


55 "Explain To Me: Receptor Upregulation/Downregulation" . Retrieved 7 January 2017 56 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41514-017-0013-z

57 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2248601/ AND


58  Mattson, 2003 

59  Marini et al., 2007 

60 https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-10-chinese-vaccine-maker-fined-billion.html?utm_source=nwletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily-nwletter 

61 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2291307/ 

62 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18543123 

63 https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/08/30/when-a-little-poison-is-good-for-you.aspx AND


64 Gerald Fleischer 'Bang goes your hearing', NewScientist 29 May 2004 

65 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2477686/ 

66 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17318365 AND https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28198373

67 http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1164/rccm.2201035 

68 Calabrese, Edward J.; Cook, Ralph (2006). "The Importance of Hormesis to Public Health". Environmental Health Perspectives. 114 (11): 1631–5. doi:10.1289/ehp.8606. JSTOR 4091789. PMC 1665397. PMID  17107845 

69 Calabrese and Baldwin, 1999, 2001 

70 Marini, 2007 

71 Ali, R. E.; Rattan, SI (2006). "Curcumin's Biphasic Hormetic Response on Proteasome Activity and Heat-Shock Protein Synthesis in Human Keratinocytes". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1067 (1): 394–9. Bibcode:2006NYASA1067..394A. doi:10.1196/annals.1354.056. PMID 16804017 

72 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormesis#cite_note-Rattan.2C_S.I.S_2008-21 

73 Kojda and Hambrecht, 2005 AND Gomezi-Pinilla, 2007 AND Bi and Triadafilopoulos, 2003 AND Gomez-Pinilla, 2007; Radak, 2007

74 Masoro, 2005; Martin et al., 2006 

75 Mattson, 2007   

76 Mattson MP, Cheng A. (2006) Neurohormetic phytochemicals: Low-dose toxins that induce adaptive neuronal stress responses. Trends Neurosci. 29:632-9; AND Mattson MP (2015) What doesn't kill you… Scientific American 313: 40-45.  

77 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracelsus 

78 Stumpf, 2007 

79 Luckey, 1980a. 

80 Scarmeas and Stern, 2003

81 Mattson et al., 2002;  Serrano and Klann, 2004 

82 Carlezon et al., 2005; Mattson and Meffert, 2006 

83 Lazarov et al., 2005

84 Rattan, 2007 

85 Mathers et al., 2004; Mattson et al., 2004; Young et al., 2004; Cuervo, 2007; Staud, 2007 

86 Li et al., 2002 

87 Mattson, 2007b 

88 Mattson and Cheng, 2006

89 Marian Kohut, Young-Je Sim, Shan Yu, Kyoungjin Yoon and Christie Loiacono; Journal of Infectious Diseases Nov 1st 2013; AND Éric Bourg; Étienne Toffin; Antoine Massé; Biogerontology Volume 5,Number 6, November 2004 , pp. 431-443(13). 

90 G M Lewitus and M Schwartz; 'Behavioral immunization: immunity to self-antigens contributes to psychological stress resilience'; Mol Psychiatry. 2009 May;14(5):532-6. doi: 10.1038/mp.2008.103. Epub 2008 Sep 9 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18779818

91 http://www.neurohackers.com/index.php/en/menu-left-nh-library/menu-left-nh-tutorials/63-art-nh-tutorial3 

92 You Have to Follow Through: Attaining Behavioral Change Goals Predicts Volitional Personality Change

93 Adam James Trewin et al, Acute HIIE elicits similar changes in human skeletal muscle mitochondrial H2O2 release, respiration and cell signaling as endurance exercise even with less work, American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology (2018). DOI: 10.1152/ajpregu.00096.2018 AND https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/body-sense/201007/slow-movement-awareness-better-exercise AND https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/natural-movement-going-back-to-basics/art-20267226 

94 A computer image of "Self Reflected," an etching of a human brain created by artists Greg Dunn and Brian Edwards. 

95 https://opentextbc.ca/introductiontosociology2ndedition/chapter/chapter-4-society-and-modern-life/


Last Updated on Sunday, 28 August 2022 11:26