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080. Brain Health, Neuroscience, and Therapeutic Applications


Timothy R. Jennings, M.D.
Curt Thompson, M.D.







Scientific research has determined that experience changes brain structure and function. Beginning before conception, continuing in utero and throughout life, this workshop will explore how environment, experience, and choice alter human DNA and impact brain structure and function. In this intensive, the presenters will explore how parental choices affect the developing brain and follow that into childhood to explore how healthy nurturing, traumatic experience, diet, addictive substances, television, and even belief in God alter clients genes, brain structure, and brain function. Through scientific research and a biblical worldview, the presenters will also explore God’s design parameters for life and health and how deviations from these parameters damage the brain and contribute to mental and relational illness. Furthermore, these principles will be vital to understanding treatments of mood and anxiety disorders provided by psychologists and other licensed mental health practitioners for all types of clients, specifically looking at shame and Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory. The presenters will also help participants be aware of differential diagnoses and help them develop interventions for all types of clients with specific attention to Christian clients. 

Learning Objectives 

Participants will:

  1. Discuss environmental influences on brain development through scientific research   
  2. Identify testable design parameters (laws of health) which life and health are built to operate upon and how deviations contribute to disease 
  3. Recognize the significance of transgenerational epigenetic influences on human DNA and brain function 
  4. Identify specific interventions that promote healthy brain function  
  5. Discuss the cultural impact on mood and anxiety  
  6. Identify fundamental elements of an interpersonal neurobiological approach to the mind, and identify the nine domains of integration and their role in the development and healing of anxiety and depression states  
  7. Evaluate spiritual practices for Christian clients that support the integration of the mind and healing process of anxiety and depression states, and identify the ethical limits of the application of neuroscience findings in the treatment of mental and spiritual maladies   
  8. Describe the basic features of Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory and apply them to regulating emotional responses of anxiety and depression  
  9. Identify the fundamental role of shame and implement tactics for its resolution, and employ mindfulness-based spiritual practices for Christian clients that facilitate the regulation of shame and activate the social engagement system of the brain as a means of healing  
  10. Recognize differential diagnosis consistent with DSM-5 standards and identify factors in each case that contribute to the current presentation