Brainspotting: recruiting the midbrain for accessing and healing sensorimotor memories of traumatic activation

Med Hypotheses. 2013 Jun;80(6):759-66. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2013.03.005. Epub 2013 Apr 6.


Brainspotting is a psychotherapy based in the observation that the body activation experienced when describing a traumatic event has a resonating spot in the visual field. Holding the attention on that Brainspot allows processing of the traumatic event to flow until the body activation has cleared. This is facilitated by a therapist focused on the client and monitoring with attunement. We set out testable hypotheses for this clinical innovation in the treatment of the residues of traumatic experiences. The primary hypothesis is that focusing on the Brainspot engages a retinocollicular pathway to the medial pulvinar, the anterior and posterior cingulate cortices, and the intraparietal sulcus, which has connectivity with the insula. While the linkage of memory, emotion, and body sensation may require the parietal and frontal interconnections - and resolution in the prefrontal cortex - we suggest that the capacity for healing of the altered feeling about the self is occurring in the midbrain at the level of the superior colliculi and the periaqueductal gray.

MeSH terms

  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mesencephalon / physiology*
  • Mindfulness
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Pulvinar / physiology
  • Visual Fields / physiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*