What is considered to be the most stressful job in the world? That title usually goes to the job of air traffic controller, or ATC for short. ATC’s are expected to coordinate airplane traffic in three dimensions, be responsible for thousands of lives, and be able to think through complex situations at lightning speed. They cannot let their minds wonder or daydream as they must remain alert every moment on the job. They must remain calm and follow procedure in all circumstances. At low traffic times they may have to fight off boredom, which can impair alertness more than high activity. The job is so stressful simply because the performance demands are never-ending.
Modern ATCs have computer aids to help them manage complex calculations and real-time projections, but this only means ATCs need even more expertise to use the complex technology effectively. They must manage information in many forms as fast as the information comes in, interpret it, and communicate instructions to computers and pilots immediately when needed. Poor performance could risk aircraft safety, but it could also mean flight delays, wasted time in holding patterns, customer dissatisfaction, and loss of airline revenue. Being at the center of air traffic operations, impaired ATC performance affects the whole airport and even flights across the entire nation.
ATCs are coordinators. They must speak the languages of pilots and ground crews, the outside world, and even airport business. They interpret information and send out information, all in real time. You could say that the brain is the ATC of the body, but because the brain has many specialized components within it, the brain itself needs something like air traffic control to function. Its components must coordinate their communication before sending messages to the rest of the body. Imagine the paralysis you feel if your emotions tell you to do one thing while your rational thoughts tell you to do another, and you just sit there stuck between the two. That’s a very simple example: the brain is a lot more complex, with input from many parts to consider before making a decision.
The brain’s air traffic controller
The ATC of the brain is the periaqueductal gray, or PAG. It coordinates inputs from the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hypothalamus, and sensory stimulation via the central and peripheral nervous systems. Its output coordinates cardiovascular, respiratory, motor, and pain responses, and is also involved in thermoregulation, vocalization, arousal, and control of REM sleep. THE PAG has four columns, or parts, which are the lateral, ventrolateral, dorsomedial, and dorsolateral. It understands the neurotransmitter languages of L-glutamate, ?-aminobutyric acid (GABA), opioids, substance P, neurotensin, and some others. The PAG’s job is to balance many sometimes conflicting areas of the brain, and when it is impaired, the brain does not harmonize and function well.
The PAG has been studied extensively. Researchers can stimulate a portion of the PAG to see the change in behavior, and they have learned that the PAG is responsible for aggressive or passive responses to threats, perception of pain, forms of depression, and anxiety, even panic attacks. Published in Medicine (Baltimore), researchers conducted a study of the connection of traumatic brain injury (TBI) to chronic, neuropathic pain where the PAG was injured. They compared patients with TBI without a specific lesion visible on scans against a control group without any history of TBI. As they stated, “we demonstrated injury of the PAG in patients with central pain following mild TBI and the degree of injury of the PAG was found to be closely related to the degree of central pain.”
Should all this matter to you if you are not a neuroscientist? Yes, at least to the extent that your brain is working in balance. And chances are, it isn’t, at least not as much as it could. That’s because your brain is continually adjusting its “circuitry” based on experiences and environment, and unless your entire life up to this point has been perfect — trauma free, full of only love, peace, and harmony — you are operating with an imperfect brain foundation. The PAG is right in the middle of all this, constantly processing the good with the bad.
Most of us are not victims of TBI, and our PAG is fully functional. But like an ATC frequently faced with pilot emergencies, poorly trained pilots, or bad weather conditions, your PAG is susceptible to what it is constantly being fed. If your brain is feeding it frequent messages from a previous traumatic experience, it will respond accordingly. And that can show up in behavioral disorders. In one study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers from Virginia Tech considered the connection between early life trauma (ELT) and binge eating, where the sufferer would eat more rapidly than normal and beyond feeling full, and with an accompanying sense of distress and loss of control. Here again there was a PAG connection. They conducted animal studies where they saw that the animals with ELT episodes often exhibited binge eating, and the hormone leptin, which normally signals the brain that it’s time to stop eating, was less effective in the hypothalamus than usual. However, the PAG tried to step in, responding to the messages from the hypothalamus and the leptin levels and attenuated the binge eating.
Improvement is always possible
The brain is trying to do its job, and the PAG is coordinating the signals it receives. But early life episodes get in the way. As noted in the research, “Over 10 million Americans suffer from binge-eating disorder at some point in their lifetimes, and of them, more than eight in 10 survived childhood abuse, neglect, or other trauma.” Binge eating is just one disorder that appears due to subconscious fears or trauma recorded in the brain. As the PAG attempts to sort them out and apply them to everyday bodily management, the results of those recordings appear in bodily health, not just mental health. The good news is that, unless damaged, the PAG is working for you to coordinate all your conscious and subconscious thoughts, emotions, and perceptions, and if you can adjust the negative recordings stored in your brain, the messages coming throughout your body will be harmonious and health producing. Your brain is a remarkable instrument, and very adaptable even in later years. Detrimental recordings can be overwritten, and the various components of your brain can send signals of health throughout your whole being.
The old rule of “garbage in, garbage out” certainly applies to the PAG. It will attempt to harmonize the garbage inputs, because its job is not to judge. You may not be aware of most of what it is trying to harmonize, as most is subconscious. If old harmful recordings are muted and new, good thoughts are added, the PAG can do its job well, benefiting your whole body.
Dr. Nemec’s Review
How important is the PAG?
Just some of the areas it balances:
- Vagus nerve, which is the major nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system that controls your health, including resting, digesting and healing
- Hypothalamus, which is the body’s thermostat, balancing body, temperature, and blood pressure with thirst and hunger, along with sleep. It takes information from the brain and inputs information into the pituitary gland — the master hormonal gland — so the hypothalamus controls the pituitary gland and all the hormones
- Amygdala — fear response
- Cardiovascular function, including blood pressure and heart rate
- Respiratory function
- Bowel function
- Bladder function
- Hormonal function
- Neurotransmitter function
- Mental function
- Emotional response
The PAG balances the mind-brain interface, where perception in the sensory system is processed through interpretation in the memory center of the hippocampus and then coordinates the prefrontal cortex seat of cognition, the anterior cingulate, insula for emotional processing, and the amygdala for processing fear versus danger response.
Some scientists have stated at the PAG is the spiritual center of the brain.
You can start to see with this many vital functions in the brain and the body that the PAG is beyond the level of the air traffic controller. This is one of the most important areas in your brain, bringing balance and harmony to all 100 trillion cells in your body.
Probably the most important function of all that the PAG performs is like being the conductor of a symphony orchestra: coordinating and optimizing not only most all vital physical functions in the body, but also all mental-emotional-cognitive functions as well. Finally, its most powerful function is to allow your heart, your spirit, to override your subconscious and conscious programs. The PAG allows your heart to rule over your mind — versus your mind suppressing or blocking your heart or spirit.
What do you think a heart of stone is?
How about a hard heart or a cold heart?
Could it be where a person has listened to their mind, both subconscious and conscious programming and the mind of the world around them so much in their life that they gave that such dominance that it completely suppressed the heart or spirit’s ability to override the cognitive or mental function?
What does it mean when someone says, “I know it made no sense to my mind and everyone around me said I was crazy, but I made a decision from my heart that I could not go against, and I had such a peace that I could not explain. I just knew it was right.”?
Could this be that the body is so balanced, the brain is so balanced, that the PAG is not hindered and can take control and override the mind?
The PAG might be the most important “symphony orchestra conductor” possible, producing optimal performance and balance, pure harmony, and beautiful music; balancing body, emotions, brain, and mind function, allowing the supremacy of the heart or spirit to dictate function of the hundred trillion members of the orchestra.
Our treatment and teaching program of Revolution New Medicine puts a high priority on balancing the PAG symphony orchestra conductor. Our programs, including our 3-D brain imaging and brain balancing treatments always assess the PAG, and make sure it is balanced and functioning properly to ensure body, mind, emotion, and spirit balance.
We have been trained to see with our physical eyes, not our spiritual eyes; to hear with our physical ears, not our spiritual ears; and to understand with our minds, not our hearts — and this is why we have become sick. To heal, this must be reversed, and it begins with a revelation of TRUTH and balancing of brain function.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.