N.E.A.R. Science (Neuroscience, Epigenetics, ACEs and Resilience)

NEAR Science is a complementary set of study that opens the door to practical, on the ground, applications and responses to ACEs and Toxic Stress.  Each of the fields is evolving and offering new strategies and insights.  It’s an exciting time to be a learner and practitioner.  N.E.A.R. Science is a “paradigm” that leads to solutions within a Trauma Informed Approach.

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Neuroscience leads the way – understanding the nervous system, the spine, and the brain.  Discovering the role of emotions relative to memory and the brain, understanding brain states, recognizing the capacity we have available through neuroplasticity.  There is a neurobiological root to behavior.  We discover the dynamic relationship between the physical body, emotions, thoughts, and actions.  Neuroception and mirror neurons offer insight into how the brain is conditioned or wired through relationship. Neurodevelopment helps us see the impacts of trauma on the developing brain, and how to intervene wisely at different ages and stages. 

Epigenetics means “above the genes” and shows how the body is always adapting. Our DNA is not our destiny. Our ability to heal generation to generation is present in our epigenome.    We are always having an epigenetic effect. The prenatal and early years are critical relative to setting the conditions for the health and life trajectory.   Recognizing the intergenerational nature of trauma AND resilience is also key.  The body is amazingly resilient and adaptive. 

ACEs, the Adverse Childhood Experience Study, helped us study and quantify the impacts of toxic stress across the health and life trajectory.  It also demonstrated how ACEs drive chronic health issues.  ACEs are common, co-cluster and co-occur.  Thru the study we also have been able to see the factors that mitigate the impacts of ACEs and set bold goals to reduce ACEs generation to generation.   The broader category of toxic stress is important to address.  ACEs are one form of toxic stress.  Racism, inequity, historic trauma, poverty, violence, migration, war are also forms of toxic stress that can have impacts across the health and life trajectory.    The work with equity has become central to addressing the intergenerational nature of the challenge.   

Resilience:  Our bodies are resilience, our families are resilient, our communities are resilient, nature is resilient.  Resilience is a capacity that can be developed or exercised.  Resilience factors help prevent ACEs and mitigate the impacts of ACEs.  Contextual and systemic resilience are KEY.  Teri Barila says, “Our kids are the indicator species for the health of the communities.”   Our communities function as living systems and self-organizing systems thus looking at  Resilience in the ecosystem is key.  Creating a community conversant in Resilience.   

Each of these areas of the science provide clues for how to address Trauma and care for the brain across the lifespan. 

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