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Emotional rehabilitation


Memory reconsolidation: unlocking traumatic memories in the brain

The neuroscience of memory reconsolidation centers on recent revolutionary evidence that traumatic memories may actually be deleted from the brain. Neuroscientists now understand the neural synapses and processes involved in the storing of implicit memories and have provided evidence that the brain circuits involved in the recording of traumatic memories are unstable and, thus, modifiable. This is why the brain scans you may be doing at our clinic are a fundamental tool for an in-depth assessment of your condition. Each brain is unique and has lived and recorded a unique biography.

These results have now been replicated by several laboratories (Przybyslawski, et al., 1999; Nader et al., 2000); Pedreira & Maldonado, 2003; Walker et al., 2003; Dudai & Eisenberg, 2004; Schiller et al., 2010) and have revealed how a new form of neuroplasticity enables the brain to delete unwanted core, non-conscious beliefs and schemas at the physiological level where traumatic memories are encoded.

The emergence of the neuroscience of memory reconsolidation has initiated a revolution in psychotherapeutic thinking (Ruden, 2011; Ecker et al., 2012; LeDoux, 2015; Martins-Mourao & Kerson, 2016) which has supported the development of specific behavioural processes (i.e. steps) that can be used to induce the necessary changes in neuroplasticity to process and transform an existing traumatic content. As suggested by Hupbach (2011), the brain-based rules for unlearning and erasing unwanted target learning include three fundamental steps: reactivation, mismatching (or unblocking), and erasure or revision via new learning.

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Alpha-Theta Neurofeedback training and Amygdala Depotentiation Techniques ADT for the treatment of emotional trauma, addictions and phobias

These are neuroscience-based techniques that enable skilled and qualified neuro-psycho-therapists (usually at doctoral level) to use specific steps to induce the necessary shifts at cellular level to increase the chance of disconnecting and deleting the relevant traumatic memories. Emotional trauma is recorded in the body electrophysiologically. Its impact on the body and the brain typically translate into overwhelmingly negative memories and feelings that the conscious mind tries to avoid, given their power to disrupt both states of wakefulness and sleep.

The traditional access to traumatic content via the 'analytical mind' - although useful - is usually not sufficient to release traumatic memories and their associated negative emotions that have been stored in the body. These are usually triggered by events in everyday life that may seem apparently unrelated to the trauma itself.

Alpha-theta Neurofeedback training (Peniston and Kulkolski, 1989; 1991) is a bio-behavioural therapeutic approach that sits between the areas of clinical neuroscience and psychotherapy (Martins-Mourao & Kerson, 2016). During a typical session, our therapists will monitor the client’s brainwave frequencies (eyes closed) using specific 10-20 system placements such as O1 or Pz, whilst providing feedback (e.g. the sound of waves and the sound of a gong) to enable the client to increase their alpha and theta frequencies. Ideally, the alpha frequency will eventually drop (due to early sleep stages) and a state of reverie may then be facilitated by the increase of the theta amplitude over the alpha amplitude. This state is known as the “crossover”, alluding to the higher power of theta (4-7 Hz) over alpha (8-12Hz).

You may access a copy of our recent book via this link: Alpha-Theta Neurofeedback in the 21st Century: A Handbook for Clinicians and Researchers

Using brain feedback to induce newly learned state of consciousness

The cutting-edge concepts brought in by Peniston and Kulkosky are that they were the first to use brain feedback technology to gradually train patients to remain partly conscious as their EEG displayed a brainwave capable of inducing a long-enough period of crossover to enable access and the expression of highly emotional and traumatic anxiety-provoking images. Successive training sessions then led patients to benefit from a newly learned state of consciousness, which is close enough to a waking alpha state, to facilitate transfer of these images into conscious awareness (Martins-Mourao, 2016).

Alternatively, Amygdala Depotentiation Techniques [ADT] use the above-mentioned steps of 'reactivation', 'mismatching' (or unblocking), and 'erasure' to access and reprocess traumatic memories. These precise steps, their aim and the context in which they are used, are explained in detail to our clients at the beginning of each session. ADT's are used in a safe and compassionate environment to help clients process traumatic memories so that they may pursue healthier outcomes.

Contact: welcome@londonscientificneurotherapy.com



Dudai, Y., & Eisenberg, M. (2004). Rites of passage of the engram: Reconsolidation and the lingering consolidation hypothesis. Neuron, 44, 93-100.

Ecker, B., Ticic, R., & Hulley, L. (2012). Unlocking the emotional brain: Eliminating symptoms at their roots using memory reconsolidation. New York, NY: Routledge.

Hupbach, A. (2011). The specific outcomes of reactivation-induced memory changes depend on the degree of competition between old and new information. Frontiers of Behavioural Neuroscience, 5, 33.

LeDoux, J. (2015). Anxious. New York, NY: Viking.

Nader, K., Schafe, G. E., & Ledoux, J. E. (2000). Fear memories require protein synthesis in the amygdala for reconsolidation after retrieval. Nature, 406, 722-726.

Martins-Mourao, A. (2017). The Integration of the Alpha-Theta Protocol: A Tool For Memory Reconsolidation Therapists. In Martins-Mourao and Kerson (Eds.) Alpha-Theta Neurofeedback in the 21st Century: A Handbook for Clinicians and Researchers.
FNNR, Murfreesboro, TN, USA

Martins-Mourao, A. & Kerson, C. (Eds.) Alpha-Theta Neurofeedback in the 21st Century: A Handbook for Clinicians and Researchers. FNNR, Murfreesboro, TN, USA

Pedreira, M. E., & Maldonado, H. (2003). Protein synthesis subserves reconsolidation or extinction depending on the reminder duration. Neuron, 38, 863-869.

Peniston, E., & Kulkosky, P. (1989). Brainwave training and b-endorphin levels in alcoholics. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 13(2), 271-279.

Peniston, E., & Kulkosky, P. (1991). Alpha-theta brainwave neurofeedback therapy for vietnam veterans with combat related post-traumatic stress disorder. Medical Psychotherapy: An International Journal, 4, 47-60.

Przybyslawski, J., Roullet, P., & Sara, S. J. (1999). Attenuation of emotional and nonemotional memories after reactivation: Role of beta adrenergic receptors. Journal of Neuroscience, 19, 6623-6628.

Ruden, R. (2011). When the Past Is Always Present - Emotional Traumatization, Causes, and Cures.. New York, NY: Routledge.

Schiller, D., Monfils. M-H., Raio, C. M., Johnson, D. C., Ledoux, J. E. & Phelps, E. A. (2010). Preventing the return of fear in humans using reconsolidation update mechanisms. Nature, 463, 49-53.

Van Der Kolk, B. (2015). The Body Keeps The Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma. Penguin: London.

Walker, M. P., Brakefield, T., Hobson, J. A., & Stickgold, R. 2003. Dissociable stages of human memory consolidation and reconsolidation. Nature, 425, 616-620.