This is Part 2 of exploring emotional meltdown causes and challenges. To read Part:1 Introduction, click here.
How The Brain Influences Emotional Meltdowns
We have worked with several students struggling with emotional meltdowns. We have evaluated all of them, which includes a propriety neurodevelomental evaluation and a qEEG brain scan. So what are the brain areas that influence a student's emotional meltdowns? Read on to learn more!
Building From The Ground Up
We evaluate and program for students always remembering that we must build a strong foundation from the most primitive regions of the brain up to the higher cortical levels. So many of our students show very clear “gaps” in their growth and development, often in the most primitive areas of the brain stem and cerebellum and the ability of this region to then “feed up” information to be processed in the midbrain, and ultimately to be received by the frontal lobes where true “at choice” behavior resides. A child struggling with emotional, behavioral, or relational challenges most often shows high degrees of dysregulation in the communication of these systems.
qEEG Brain Map
Every student who enters The Hope School undergoes a holistic evaluation, including a proprietary neurodevelopmental profile and a qEEG brain map. The qEEG stands for Quantitative Electroencephalogram and is a diagnostic tool that measures electrical activity in the form of brain wave patterns. It provides vital information in terms of the brain’s current state of balance and overall communication patterns at the electrical frequencies of Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, and High Beta.
Below is a sample qEEG of from a student who struggles with emotional meltdowns.
Limbic System & Prefrontal Cortex
When we look at the qEEGs of students who display emotional behavioral meltdowns, we typically see communication is excessive in the areas of the Limbic System (Insular Cortex, Cingulate Gyrus). This region of the brain is where self-regulation, fight or flight response, and regulation of the body’s homeostasis are located.
Often these areas are struggling to communicate with the Prefrontal Cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive control of behavior. As we look closely at the measure of coherence under the frequency of High Beta, we see excessive or “locked” communication from both sides of the Prefrontal Cortex to the area of the left Temporal Lobe, responsible for the child’s inner voice.
Additionally, other locked communication originating from both sides of the Prefrontal Cortex also connect to both sides of the Superior Temporal Gyrus, which is where one experiences emotional stimuli, specifically fear or threat.
In order for us to understand the complexity of the world and to make and execute decisions the different parts of the brain must share information. Coherence is one of the measurements on how well the brain is able to perform this inner self-talk. This measure gives us an indication of how efficiently our brain is working to connect and disconnect different parts of it to accomplish a particular task.
Excessive coherence tends to indicate two or more areas of the brain are “overly connected or locked together”. That is, the brain has become overly dependent on those centers and is not efficiently processing and executing information. This tends to result in poor day-to-day performance. Deficient coherence signified a brain is not able to efficiently connect cortical areas to perform specific tasks.
Anterior Cingulate Cortex & Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex
As we look closely at this particular measure of coherence under the frequency of High Beta, we see excessive or “locked” communication from both sides of the Prefrontal Cortex, which is again responsible for execute control of behavior, to the area of the left Temporal Lobe, responsible for the child’s inner voice.
Additionally, other locked communication originating from both sides of the Prefrontal Cortex also connect to both sides of the Superior Temporal Gyrus, which is again where one experiences emotional stimuli, specifically fear or threat.
We want to share three specific challenges we have seen with student's struggling with emotional meltdowns. Click here for Part 3: Challenges.