Integrating Pain into Thought and Action
(Workbook Page 46)
The Associational cortices are the highest functioning part of our brains. Look at the graphic on page 46 of the Neuroplastic Transformation workbook. The Primary Association Cortices are made up of three other regions of the brain, the frontal cortex, the limbic cortex and the parietal cortex. Their function is described on the graphic and in the text. They have the ability to modify and override all other brain function and account for a great deal of the sophisticated decision making that adds up to the day to day experience of being human. Creativity, empathy, executive function, problem solving, planning, pleasure, logic, associational memory, conflict detection and resolution, emotional regulation, emotional perception, salience, trust, pleasure, disgust, pain perception and pain invoked emotion all take place in these areas. As such, the role of the Primary Associational Cortices is one of the highest sophistication, requiring a tremendous amount of energy. The Primary Somatosensory and Motor Cortices are a reliable parts of the brain. They process sensory input and motor output with little modification from the Associational Cortices. The Primary Associational Cortices can control and coordinate sensation and movement, but often do not interfere with the assessment of sensation, planning of motor action and execution of motor activity. The Primary Associational Cortices can be invoked purposefully to override the sensorimotor process. This is what allows us to intervene in the runaway belief, thought and action response associated with persistent pain.
Literally, we can control pain from the top of our brains down to the more automatic brain, usually below the level of consciousness. This is accomplished via the use of our highest functioning brain regions, the Associational Corteces. They can direct the Primary Somatosensory Cortex to change it's perception from pain to the absence of pain and can direct the Primary Motor Cortex to calm down the peripheral body.