Peak Achievement Training: (Wo)Man or Machine?

If we could learn to control the motivational centers of our brains that drive volition, would it lead us toward healthier, more productive lives?*

Yes, it appears that it very well could. This Duke team of researchers focused on an area of the brain, the ventral tegmental area (VTA), which is a major source of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurochemical important to us for its role in motivation, learning, memory…and other things that might interest you. Study participants were asked to come up with their own motivational strategies, e.g., imagining parents/coaches encouraging them, or scenarios in which they had succeeded. Only the group given magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) biofeedback, on how the brain responded to these self-induced thoughts and images, showed an increase in VTA activation.

Different strokes for different folks. Some mental images worked better for some than for others, and what tipped the scales on impact was whether the participant knew which was which. Wonderful. What is said here all the time. Whatever strategy you hear or read about that you think might help you to move forward physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, in work, love, life, whatever it is – Try it. Mess with it. And see what happens for you.

Ok fine, you want a machine? You can check out the Pavlok, a wearable device that electric shocks you in the direction you want to go, although some have wondered about the ethics of these sorts of devices when there are less abusive means to be tried. So maybe not your very own MRI, but the Peak Achievement Training machine is one that you can purchase. Disclaimer: This is NOT an endorsement, as I have not tested this product myself, and am inclined toward more natural enhancements, which we will get to in a moment. But go ahead and click here for a YouTube on Dr. Sanford Silverman’s Peak Achievement Training demo. Neurofeedback sessions with a professional would typically involve a fee, another reason why some of you may want to take matters into your own hands (or heads) and see how that goes first.

Why not? My practice is full of clients** creating miracles in their lives simply by getting outside of the box to change how they think about things. So here’s a tip. You too can create motivational thoughts and images of parents/coaches encouraging you, or scenarios in which you have succeeded. No worries if your parents/coaches could have coached you better, or if the success you dream about just hasn’t quite materialized yet. Go ahead, get out of that confining, restrictive, self-limiting little box, and make it up. Make up thoughts and images that motivate you and, while you are doing that, talk to yourself. And when you talk to yourself, Use Your Name. You know how good we are at inspiring others. Create an ‘other’ out of yourself. Kross et al found that people who self-talked using their own names outperformed those who had not. Create the world you want to live in from the inside out. Go ahead, address yourself by your name in a variety of motivational scenarios – to find the one(s) that do it for you. Practice, practice, practice, and see what happens.

To work on this or something else, would love to hear from you. Write or call:

Email:  Madelaine Weiss

Phone:  202.617.0821

Duke University. “Brain tune-up may aid self-motivation: Allowing people to see their own brain activity might help them motivate themselves.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 March 2016.

**Examples and illustrations are fictional composites inspired by but not depicting nor referring to any actual specific person in my practice or life experience.

Copyright © 2017. Madelaine Claire Weiss. All rights reserved.



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