Glossary – Neurobiology



Buzsake F.  The Brain from Inside Out.  Oxford University Press.  2019

The term BRAIN-BODY refers to the unity of the entire, interconnected living system.

This unity has been demonstrated in thousands of scientific papers but biomedicine has been slow to translate SYSTEMS BIOLOGY findings into clinical practice.

From the 16th Century CE, Western biomedicine has thought of the Brain and Body as separate entities.
These prior ideas are often attributed to French scientist Rene Descartes (1596-1650) who influenced the European Scientific Revolution to see Mind as distinct from Body (“cartesian dualism”).

The BRAIN functions via NETWORKS of neurons.
Early ideas about the BRAIN came from anatomical dissection.  This dissection identified regions which were named as separate parts – and early research identified certain functions attributed to those  brain parts.

Recent research (especially since development of the functional MRI-fMRI) has determined that the Brain actually processes information and responds through NETWORKS.  Any neuron or nucleus could belong to multiple NETWORKS.

NETWORKS involved in memory, thoughts and emotions identified so far include:

  • DMN = Default Mode Network – involved in thinking about oneself, autobiographical memory and social cognition.  Usually active at rest when reflecting or thinking about future events.
  • SN = Salience Network – involved in detection and integration of “salient” internal-external stimuli as well as autonomic and emotional regulation, and conflict monitoring.  The SN includes several areas including the amygdala and thalamus.  The SN is felt to regulate the dynamic interplay between the DMN and CEN.
  • CEN = Central Executive Network – involved in working memory and executive functioning.  The CEN is usually engaged during tasks requiring attention and inactive at rest.


ATTACHMENT is a key ingredient of healthy Early Child Development.
A deep and emotional bond between people, particularly parent-child, family-friends, romantic partners. 

ATTACHMENT results in feelings of a secure base, a safe haven, emotional closeness, comfort and protection. Separation can cause distress.

ATTUNEMENT is being “tuned in” to another person or a group. 

ATTUNEMENT within the parent-child DYAD is created by the CYCLE of a parent SENSING a child’s feelings and needs – and RESPONDING to those needs – matching their rhythm, affect and experience. 

ATTUNEMENT establishes a sense of security within the child and allows the child to self-regulate emotions and develop thinking.
ATTUNEMENT between a pair (a DYAD) is also called CO-REGULATION.

REGULATION is the ability of the Brain-Body to maintain a stable internal environment.
REGULATION occurs through the CYCLE of 2 important functions:  SENSING and RESPONDING

REGULATION occurs through constant, instantaneous communication (messages-SIGNALS) via the brain, autonomic nervous system, circulatory, endocrine, and immune systems.

DYSREGULATION is when the Brain-Body gets outside the optimal, stable range.  Prolonged DYSREGULATION drives disease-promoting pathways.

SENSING and RESPONDING is a CYCLE (back and forth).

SENSING and is the ability to sense internal and external conditions.
Within the Brain-Body, RESPONDING is the adjustment to keep functions in the desirable zone. 

Between persons, RESPONDING is the ability to take action to meet the other’s needs.

The STRESS RESPONSE is an important, normal part of the BRAIN-BODY which allows us to SENSE and RESPOND to a challenge.

Classically, the STRESS RESPONSE has been thought of as “Fight or Flight” as the BRAIN-BODY responds through the HPA AXIS (Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal subsystem).
But over the past decades, science has shown that the full range of STRESS RESPONSE is “Fight, Flight or Freeze.”
“Freeze” is often manifested through DISSOCIATION.

The 8 SENSES include the 5 Senses we usually think about (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling) plus 3 equally important “body” senses: 

(information about motion and balance),

PROPRIOCEPTION (information about position – from muscles and joints), and

INTEROCEPTION (body-organ awareness).

INTEROCEPTION or organ awareness is the ability to sense the condition of one’s body – to feel whether we are hot or cold, hungry or full or thirsty.
also includes the ability to feel pain and know where the pain is coming from. 

Loss of INTEROCEPTION is a hallmark of TRAUMA and often related to Eating Disorders and Chronic Pain. 

People can rebuild INTEROCEPTION through a combination of BRAIN-BODY activities such as MINDFULNESS, YOGA, and TRAUMA therapy.