Artikelen Grant/Marvin - mBraining Nederland

INLPTA NLP News article, Submitted July 2012 for the INLPTA 20th Anniversary Special Edition

 Neuroscience and NLP: How the game is changing

By Marvin Oka (INLPTA Board of Director and INLPTA Master Trainer), and Grant Soosalu (INLPTA Master Practitioner)

A new context for NLP

With the 20th Anniversary of INLPTA upon us, it’s an apt time to pause and reflect on how far we have come as an organization and how far NLP has come as a field. As Richard Bandler so eloquently expressed it all those years ago, “NLP is an attitude and methodology that leaves behind a trail of techniques”. The attitude is one that embodies curiosity and thirst for generative creativity. And the methodology involves the application of the tools and mindset of behavioral modeling to the domain of ‘the structure of human excellence and human subjective experience’. An amazing marriage that has produced a progeny of NLP techniques that continues to flourish throughout the world today.

And as we look back, we note that the world of science and knowledge has come a long, long way since those early days in the mid ‘70’s when Richard, John and a core of adventurers set out to explore the relatively unchartered waters that became NLP. With the advent of powerful and inexpensive computing and electronics, and driven by the exponential and accelerating growth of scientific knowledge, we now have incredible imaging and mapping devices that can peer inside a person’s brain and graphically display neural activity and processes. Numerous medical, biological, psychological and engineering advances have opened up and deepened our knowledge of how our brains, bodies and biochemistry works.

And the significance to NLP is profound.

We are still (and always will be) learning and advancing our understandings of human process, but we now have pivotal distinctions and incredible insights that were previously unavailable to the early behavioral modelers. And this not only changes our understanding of NLP, it also opens up entirely new possibilities for a new range of techniques.

A modern approach to behavioral modeling

Over the last 2 years, in the pioneering spirit of the beginnings of NLP, we have commenced a modern approach to behavioral modeling based on the latest findings in neuroscience. With a passionate sense of wide-eyed curiosity, we’ve begun using the latest scientific advances in neuroscience to inform and direct our behavioral modeling research into new areas that were originally hidden to the epistemology of earlier NLP development.

What we have uncovered has been truly astounding and has created a feast of new and powerful distinctions that significantly advance what is possible in NLP. In this current anniversary issue, we will introduce you to the first set of ‘game changing’ findings and distinctions that we have recently published in our book ‘mBraining – Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff’, and in subsequent issues of INLPTA NLP News we will cover more of our work and what we have developed in detail.

We don’t just have one brain!

Over the last decade or so, Neuroscience researchers have uncovered a set of astounding facts … we have complex and functional neural networks in both our heart and our gut. Called the cardiac and enteric nervous systems respectively, they have been shown to exhibit all the hallmarks of a ‘brain’, and like the brain in our head, they have the following characteristics:

  • Large numbers of neurons and ganglia, including sensory neurons and motor neurons
  • Neural cells with inter-neurons; neurons re-entrantly interconnecting in complex ways with other neurons
  • Support cells and components such as glial cells, astrocytes, proteins, etc.
  • Functional attributes: perceiving/assimilating information, processing information, memory storage and access, neural plasticity and adaptiveness (i.e. the ability to ‘learn’)
  • Able to mediate complex reflexes via an intrinsic nervous system (i.e. it doesn’t need the head brain to direct it, it functions even in the complete absence of the head brain)
  • A chemical warehouse of neurotransmitters (those found in the head brain are also found in the gut and heart brains)

These complex neural networks display amazing levels of functional ‘intelligence’ and there is a growing array of evidence that these ‘brains’ are deeply involved in the control and processing of numerous functions and core behavioral competencies.

How can this be?

The heart and gut brains are primal in both an evolutionary sense and a developmental sense. The gut brain for example evolved long before the head brain, and can be found in organisms such as sea slugs, sea cucumbers and spineless helminthes (a type of parasitic worm). Sea cucumbers are echinoderms, a part of the chordate phylum, and have been found to have very sophisticated enteric nervous systems.

When you think about this for a moment, it makes sense. As life developed on our amazing planet, the first organisms were single celled and then multi-cellular creatures that floated around in the ocean, moving towards food and away from danger. As they developed more complexity they needed a neural network – an intelligencing system – to process the information required to:

  1. obtain, digest and assimilate food,
  2. track for danger and safety, and
  3. move within their environment accordingly.

This nervous system, in organisms like sea cucumbers, is basically a tube designed for feeding and replication, and it eventually evolved into the enteric brain in higher organisms. It predates the head brain and central nervous system.

Fascinatingly, the development of our own brains during gestation mirrors evolutionary sequencing. As the fetus begins to grow, cells form into what will eventually become the various brains. A neural plate first forms and then rolls into a neural tube. This tube eventually becomes the spinal column and goes on to generate the cephalic head brain. However, at the point where the edges of that neural plate meet and form the tube, an outpoaching called the neural crest forms. As this develops it begins the process of generating the gut brain as the crest-derived cells colonize the developing gut. So before the neural tube has elongated and rolled up to form the encephalon and ultimately the complete head brain, the gut brain has already begun forming and populating the visceral region. Along the way, as the neural tube develops there is another outpoaching of what ultimately becomes the vagus nerve system, and this forms the cardiac plexus and the innervation of the heart.

A bit more on the gut brain

While some NLP’ers may be familiar with the heart brain mostly due to the popularity of the work from the Heartmath Institute, the majority are probably not as familiar with the gut brain.

Dr. Michael Gershon is one of the leaders in the newly emerging field of neurogastroenterology, and has published a ground-breaking book entitled, ‘The Second Brain: Your Gut Has a Mind of Its Own’. Dr. Gershon’s book is being hailed as “a quantum leap in medical knowledge” and that it provides “radical new understandings about a wide range of gastrointestinal problems.”

The gut brain contains over 500 million neurons and has the equivalent size and complexity of something like a cat’s brain. It sends and receives nerve signals throughout the chest and torso and innervates organs as diverse as the pancreas, lungs, diaphragm and liver. The gut brain is a vast chemical and neuro-hormonal warehouse and utilizes every class of neurotransmitter found in the head brain. Major neurotransmitters found in the enteric brain include serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine and nitric oxide. 70 percent of your immune system is in the gut, and according to Dr. Gershon over 95 percent of the serotonin used throughout the body and brain is also made in the gut. Diseases of the head brain also affect the neurons in the gut and heart brains. Patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases often suffer from constipation due to the same damage to their gut brains as is occurring in their cranial brains.

The ‘So What’ test: Modeling the functions and competencies of our multiple brains

We have learned well from Dr. Wyatt Woodsmall to always apply the ‘so what’ test to any new distinction, model, or piece of content. Science has shown we have three functioning brains, interesting but so what? Well, from a pure medical science viewpoint, it’s useful information that has medical value. However from a behavioral modeling and NLP perspective, the implications and applications for behavioral change are groundbreaking and profound.

Given we have multiple brains and not just a single brain in our head, it was obvious to us that the control and processing of complex emotions and behaviors is unlikely to only be performed in the head brain. And this is exactly what we have found. Each of the three brains is optimized and involved in mediating specific core functions with specific core competencies.

We studied well over 600 scientific research papers, articles and books regarding the heart and gut brains and used these findings to inform our behavioral modeling action-research (if you would like a full listing of these references, visit us at As we modeled and explored the various behavioral patterns associated with each of the three neural networks, one of the first sets of distinctions that emerged was what we call the Prime Functions.

The 9 Prime Functions

It’s an important guiding principle for working with your multiple brains to understand that each of the brains has its own prime function. Each brain has a fundamentally different form of intelligence; they utilize different language, have different goals and operate under different criteria. In other words, your head, heart and guts have different ways of processing the world, communicating, operating and addressing their own concerns and domains of expertise.

What we found from all of our modeling research is an overwhelmingly consistent pattern showing how these different brains have clearly distinct prime functions and underlying core competencies. In hindsight they are obvious and intuitive, which you will be able to validate in your own personal experience. So what are they?


  • Emoting
  • Relational affect
  • Values


  • Mobilization
  • Self-Preservation
  • Core identity


  • Cognitive perception
  • Thinking
  • Making meaning

[Please note; we are not saying these functions are limited only to the particular brain their associated with. Obviously, the head brain with its approximately 100,000,000,000 neurons is far more complex than is either the heart or gut brains and is involved in all functions at some level. However, the evidence from our behavioral modeling work indicates that each neural network is a key or prime driver for the functions listed above.]

In future issues of INLPTA NLP News, we will explore in more detail the significance of these Prime Functions and how to work with them through a suite of tools that we’ve termed ‘multiple brain integration techniques’, or mBIT for short.

Multiple braining NLP

Working with three brains rather than one adds significantly to how you do NLP. It also adds significantly to what is possible with NLP. The process of communicating with, aligning, and harnessing the intelligences of your three brains is what we call ‘mBraining’, which stands for ‘multiple braining’. True to the NLP distinction of denominalizing when appropriate, we’ve used the constructed verb of ‘braining’ to indicate this process.

Even at first glance, the impact of these findings for NLP quickly becomes apparent. Here is a quick listing of just some of the immediate applications to the existing body of NLP techniques:

  1. Working with ‘parts’ – to which neural network does the part belong?
  2. Secondary gain – which Prime Function needs to be fulfilled?
  3. Use of olfactory and gustatory sensory channels – these two modalities which have long been neglected by NLP are key drivers for the heart and gut neural networks, respectively. The inclusion of these two sensory channels opens up entirely new classes of NLP techniques utilizing smells and tastes.
  4. Calibration – the different neural networks express themselves through specific accessing and processing cues. Also, in addition to calibrating the use of olfactory and gustatory predicates, there are also linguistic metaphors and figures of speech that indicate which neural network is in play and how it is functioning.
  5. Sequencing – in a manner similar to working with NLP strategies/TOTEs, the three brains work together in a neural syntax that may be empowering or disempowering in relation to an outcome.
  6. Resourceful states – each neural network can function in a sympathetic mode, a parasympathetic mode, or a balanced state of autonomic ‘coherence’. Certain resourceful states are accessible or inaccessible depending upon the autonomic state of the relevant neural network (more on these distinctions in a future article).
  7. Values work – understanding how the heart brain creates emotional salience to influence the gut and head brains is essential for precision when working with values.
  8. Ecology – each neural network has its own criteria for ecology. Additional ecology issues arise if there is a lack of alignment between the three brains, or if they are functioning in a problematic sequence (neural syntax).
  9. Working with Identity – identity issues are in the domain of the gut brain as one of its Prime Functions. The gut brain needs to be facilitated to effectively processes any identity work. As a neural network, the gut can be facilitated to generate new neural patterns for transformative identity ‘upgrades’.
  10. Future pacing – much greater precision and generativity is possible with future pacing than just that of doing associated or dissociated visualising with anchored states or strategies. The heart brain needs to be specifically integrated into the future pace for values-based salience, and the gut brain needs to be facilitated to ensure the changes are integrated into an identity that takes motivated action.
  11. Integration – facilitating all three neural networks is required for deep epistemological and ontological integration.
  12. The legs of nlp, well formedness conditions for outcomes, etc. – many of the foundational models of NLP take on new levels of effectiveness when revised to include the heart and gut brains, and how all three brains need to interact and integrate.

Please keep in mind that this list is just a very small sample of how mBIT and mBraining can enhance how we approach NLP. There are many more distinctions we have discovered of which the 6 Prime Functions is only the starting point. And as we have already mentioned, we are excited to share these distinctions and new models with you in future articles.

An exciting time for NLP

From the filters of mBraining and mBIT, modern neuroscience is proving what ancient wisdom traditions have been saying for over two and a half thousand years. The intuitive harnessing of all three neural networks is embodied in practically all wisdom teachings ranging from the Enneagram which explicitly identifies the head, heart and gut/instinctive/moving centers, to Chinese Taoist philosophy that maintains there are three energy centers known as the Three Tan Tiens, the Upper, Middle and Lower Tan Tiens located in the head, heart and lower abdomen respectively.

These ‘new’ findings in neuroscience, which are old insights in the various wisdom traditions, bring exciting new possibilities to NLP.

Do you remember when you first learned NLP? The excitement of seeing patterns in human communication and human behavior that have been there all your life but that you’d never really noticed or had really ever ‘seen’ before? Like viewing the world afresh for the very first time, there were feelings of amazement and delight from being able to track and utilize patterns that had previously been hidden to you.

This is the excitement of mBIT. Upon learning mBIT and mBraining, we’ve had seasoned NLP trainers comment repeatedly to us that “it’s like learning NLP all over again!” The world of human process is made afresh. New possibilities open up. New patterns emerge. New generative choices become available. The original sense of excitement and adventure returns.

And on the 20th Anniversary of INLPTA, isn’t it apt that new and exciting directions emerge for NLP at this time? With a continued focus on generative change, a passion for curiosity and creativity and a desire to make a positive difference to our world, we can continue to build on the success of the foundational methodology of behavioral modeling by evolving NLP into burgeoning new directions with innovative applications.

Further info

For further information on mBIT and mBraining, please check out and our source book ‘mBraining – Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff’.


INLPTA NLP News article #2

mBraining NLP: The Autonomic Nervous System and Your Multiple Brains

By Grant Soosalu (M.App.Sc., B.Sc.(Hons), Grad. Dip. Psych, INLPTA Master Practitioner) & Marvin Oka (INLPTA Board of Director and INLPTA Master Trainer)

Bringing the Neuroscience of Multiple Brains to NLP

In our previous article we introduced recent neuroscience findings highlighting how we have complex, adaptive and functional neural networks – or ‘brains’ – in our heart and gut, (the cardiac and enteric brains respectively). In conjunction with our head brain, these multiple brains are involved in specific competencies and processes that have significant implications in how we use NLP.

Over the last two years, informed by these neuroscience findings, we have conducted action research using behavioral modeling to unpack the unconscious processes of how we use our head, heart and gut brains to create meaning, enact decisions and construct our subjective reality. We call these unconscious multiple brain processes ‘mBraining’.

And we have subsequently developed a suite of techniques and models for harnessing the innate wisdom of our multiple brains for greater generative consciousness. We’ve called this growing suite of techniques and models ‘mBIT’, for ‘multiple Brain Integration Techniques’. A growing number of mBIT practitioners who have attended our trainings have found mBIT brings a feast of new and powerful distinctions that significantly advance what is possible in NLP.

Following on from our previous article, we’d like to share with you the next set of key mBIT distinctions that you can use to powerfully enhance your core NLP skills and overall effectiveness.

The mBIT Prime Functions

To recap from our previous article, it’s important to know whenever working with your or another person’s multiple brains that each of the brains has its own set of Prime Functions. Each brain has a fundamentally different form of intelligence, they utilize different languages for communication, and they have different goals operating under different criteria. In other words, your head, heart and gut have different ways of processing the world with different concerns and domains of competence.

The Prime Functions of each neural network are:


  • Emoting – emotional processing (e.g. anger, grief, hatred, joy, happiness etc.)
  • Values – processing what’s important to you (and its relationship to the emotional strength of your aspirations, dreams, desires, etc.)
  • Relational affect – your felt connection with others (e.g. feelings of love/hate/indifference, compassion/uncaring, like/dislike, etc.)


  • Core identity – a deep and visceral sense of core self, and determining at the deepest levels what is ‘self’ versus ‘not-self
  • Self-preservation – protection of self, safety, boundaries, hungers and aversions
  • Mobilization – motility, impulse for action, gutsy courage and the will to act


  • Cognitive perception – cognition, perception, pattern recognition, etc.
  • Thinking – reasoning, abstraction, meta-cognition etc.
  • Making meaning – semantic processing, languaging, narrative, metaphor, etc.

The Significance of the Autonomic Nervous System

In order to work effectively with your three brains and their Prime Functions, you also need to understand the role of your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). Curiously, traditional NLP completely misses any focus or mention of the ANS. NLP largely works with the head brain and the Central Nervous System (CNS), although it is now expanding into the area of somatics. Even so, the role of the ANS is critical to making sense of what you are calibrating in your client, in diagnosing and designing an intervention/facilitation, and understanding what constitutes a resource state for that client given their current mode of ANS functioning.

Put simply, the mode in which your ANS is operating affects the quality of the way your multiple brains function. For example, your heart brain may be attempting to fulfill its Prime Functions in a particular situation by emotionally expressing either sadness or joy. These are two very different expressions that are based on the same Prime Function. What accounts for the difference? And what can we do to shift from a debilitating expression to a more empowering one? To answer these questions, we need to look to the details of your ANS.

Understanding the ANS

Your overall nervous system has two major divisions, the Voluntary and the Autonomic. The Voluntary System is mainly concerned with movement and sensation. The Autonomic Nervous System on the other hand is responsible for control of involuntary and visceral bodily functions. The functions it controls include:

  • Cardiovascular
  • Respiratory
  • Digestive
  • Urinary
  • Reproductive functions
  • The body’s response to stress

It’s called ‘autonomic’ because it is operates largely automatically and outside of conscious control. It’s divided into two separate branches — the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic. These two branches work in a delicately tuned, reciprocal and (usually) opposing fashion. Simplistically, the Sympathetic system can be considered to be the ‘fight or flight’ system. It allows the body to function under stress and danger. The Parasympathetic system is the ‘feeding and fornicating’ and ‘rest and repose’ arm. It controls the vegetative functions of feeding, breeding, rest, recuperation and repose. The Parasympathetic system also typically provides ongoing opposition to the Sympathetic system to bring your total system into balance or homeostasis.

In times of danger or stress, the Sympathetic system, which has a very fast onset and response, kicks in and gets you moving to handle or resolve the situation. The slower acting Parasympathetic system begins to operate after the danger has passed, and brings you back to normalcy. Without the opposing function of the Parasympathetic system your body would stay amped up, burning energy and fuel and eventually exhaust itself.

The ANS and Your Multiple Brains

It’s important to know about the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic systems because they innervate and deeply influence the operating mode of the heart, gut and head brains. There are major connections between the head brain hemispheres, the heart (cardiac) brain, the gut (enteric) brain and these Sympathetic and Parasympathetic arms of the ANS, and since the two ANS components work in opposing ways, the dominance of one or the other leads to very different modes of processing throughout our multiple brains.

For instance, Parasympathetic activity generally slows the heart, whereas Sympathetic activity accelerates it. In the gut, Parasympathetic activity enhances intestinal peristaltic movement promoting healthy digestion and elimination whereas Sympathetic activity inhibits such activity during times when physical exertion requires catabolic (energy) mobilization. The following are some of the main influences of the two systems:

Sympathetic activation

Activation of the Sympathetic nervous system has the following effects:

  • Dilates the pupils and opens the eyelids
  • Stimulates the sweat glands
  • Dilates the blood vessels in the large skeletal muscles
  • Constricts the blood vessels in the rest of the body
  • Increases heart rate
  • Relaxes and opens up the bronchial tubes of the lungs
  • Contracts the sphincter of the bladder and the bladder wall relaxes
  • Shuts down and inhibits the secretions in the digestive system
  • Can lead to involuntary defecation
  • Is associated with Right Hemisphere activation and dominance in the head brain (and therefore concurrent style of cognitive and emotional processing)

Parasympathetic activation

Activation of the Parasympathetic nervous system has the following effects:

  • Constricts the pupils
  • Activates and increases the secretion of the salivary glands
  • Decreases heart rate
  • Stimulates the secretions of the stomach
  • Constricts the bronchial tubes and stimulates secretions in the lungs
  • Stimulates the activity of the gastro intestinal tract
  • Is involved in sexual arousal
  • Is associated with Left Hemisphere activation and dominance in the head brain (and therefore concurrent style of cognitive and emotional processing)

 You’ll notice here that a powerful functional principle is in play. That is, two modes of opponent processing are operating for autonomic control across your total system. Consequently, your multiple brains can function in ways that are Sympathetic dominant, Parasympathetic dominant, or some combination of the two [for more details on how these two systems can combine, see our book ‘mBraining – Using Your Multiple Brains to do Cool Suff’]. The end result is that your Sympathetic and Parasympathetic systems dramatically affect how each of the Prime Functions of your multiple brains express themselves to create your subjective world.

Working With Your Client’s Autonomic Mode

Traditionally in NLP, when a client comes to you for help with an issue they can’t resolve for themselves, we often say they are in an ‘unresourceful state’. Depending upon the nature of the issue, we may endeavor to anchor a ‘resource’ state(s) to enable them to work effectively on the issue. But what do these terms mean from a neurological perspective? Understanding how the ANS works brings far greater precision in answering these questions and therefore to your level of NLP mastery.

In terms of your ANS, an ‘unresourceful’ state means being in an overly Sympathetic or overly Parasympathetic mode of functioning in relation to the desired outcome. For instance, let’s say a client comes to you with the issue of a chronic inability to act on their intended outcomes. As a properly trained NLPer, we might calibrate that when the client is talking about their issue they go into an ‘unresourceful state’. But what type of unresourceful state? Are they too apathetic and unmotivated? Or do they go into states of high anxiety and become immobilized by fear? The former relates to an overly Parasympathetic mode of functioning while the latter relates to an overly Sympathetic mode of functioning, and depending upon which it is determines the type of resource state that is required.

From an mBIT perspective, a ‘resourceful state’ can mean one of four things, depending upon the desired outcome in contrast to the present state of the client’s ANS functioning:

  1. A state of autonomic ‘coherence’ where the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic systems are in balance.

    This enables all three brains to fulfill their Prime Functions at their highest modes of expression (we will cover more about ‘autonomic coherence’ and the ‘Highest Expressions’ in future articles in INLPTA NLP News).

  2. A state which provides leverage for the ANS to re-balance itself and re-gain autonomic coherence.

    This form of a ‘resourceful state’ employs the mBIT Principle of Autonomic Affinity which explains how certain states have a neurological affinity with each other due to their autonomic mode of functioning. For instance, depression and sadness have an autonomic affinity with each other due to their Parasympathetic basis. Joy, happiness and enthusiasm also have an autonomic affinity due to their balanced ParaySympathetic/Sympathetic basis.

    You can therefore facilitate your client to neurologically move from an unresourceful state to a more autonomically coherent state through a series of linked states that share autonomic affinity. The classic NLP technique for this is chaining anchors. What mBIT has to offer here are two very important distinctions for designing and facilitating a chain of anchors. The first is, when designing a chain of anchors you need to attend to the Sympathetic or Parasympathetic mode of the present state and leverage the mBIT Principle of Autonomic Affinity to select the succeeding states in the chain accordingly.

    The second is, the design of the chain should ideally lead the client out of their Sympathetic or Parasympathetic unresourcefulness and neurologically move them toward either autonomic balance (coherence) or into the appropriate autonomic mode for their desired outcome (e.g. from Parasympathetic apathy to Sympathetic motivated action, or from Sympathetic anxiety to Parasympathetic relaxation).

  3. A state which blocks or prevents the unresourceful state from occurring.

    This type of resourceful state employs the mBIT Principle of Autonomic Counterbalancing, which says that you can block or prevent an unresourceful state from occurring by putting the ANS into an opposing mode of functioning. Remember that the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic systems run opposing processes.  If your client is in a strong resource state – whether Sympathetic, Parasympathetic or balanced/coherent – while that state is maintained they cannot easily access an unresourceful state that is based on the opposing ANS mode of functioning. Many of Richard Bandler’s methods of ‘inoculation’ against unresourceful states rely on this principle.

  1. An appropriate Sympathetic or Parasympathetic state for achieving the desired outcome.

    This fourth type of resourceful state is what most NLPers think of when considering what ‘resources’ a client needs in relation to their outcome. It is based on the mBIT Principle of Autonomic State Dependency which says that you cannot easily access particular states unless your ANS is in the appropriate mode of functioning to support that state.

    This is why if you are in a depressed state it doesn’t help if someone tells you to “cheer up”. It’s difficult to engage in the Sympathetic state of cheerfulness when already engaged in the Parasympathetic state of depression. By understanding this principle, we know that if a client’s outcome is about being able to take action, they will need resource states that arise from either greater Sympathetic functioning (e.g. states of excitement, eagerness, etc) or from a more balanced/coherent mode of functioning (e.g. flow states, states of ease, etc.).

    Conversely, if your client comes to you in a highly stressed state or with high anxiety, then you know that more appropriate resource states for them will be either more Parasympathetically based (e.g. states of relaxation, restfulness, etc.), or again states arising from a more balanced/coherent mode of functioning (e.g. peacefulness, acceptance, etc.).

Calibrating Your Client’s Autonomic Mode

As in everything you do in NLP, your ability to calibrate is integral to your effectiveness whenever working with yourself and/or others. And as you’ve gathered by now, being able to calibrate the ANS mode of functioning for yourself or for your client is equally important.  Notice that the two lists previously mentioned in this article relating to Sympathetic and Parasympathetic activation also serve as important sensory cues for you to calibrate. They can be used to refine your calibration of either yourself and/or another person about which arm of the Autonomic System is currently activated. Knowing this helps you determine what modes the three brains are operating in and in what direction (i.e. amping up versus slowing down) the person needs to be facilitated to bring them back to balance or coherence. It also allows you to diagnose which mode is required for the outcomes the client desires.


Each of your multiple brains has its own set of Prime Functions with which it is uniquely adapted to fulfill. These Prime Functions can vary greatly in the way they manifest in behavior, depending upon whether they are originating from a Sympathetic, Parasympathetic, or balanced/coherent state of autonomic functioning. Calibrating your client’s mode of autonomic functioning is essential to knowing what is neurologically possible and not possible for your client in any given moment. This enables you to know which NLP interventions/facilitations will and won’t work for your client at any given point in time. Understanding how the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic arms of the ANS interact with each other gives you far greater precision and NLP mastery in how you work with your client’s ‘unresourceful’ states and in establishing autonomically ‘resourceful’ states.

Along these lines, in our next article for INLPTA NLP News we will cover in more detail how to facilitate your client (and yourself) into states of autonomic balance/coherence.

Further info

For further information on mBIT and mBraining or more details on the Core Competencies of the heart and gut brains, go to and read our source book for the new field of mBIT: ‘mBraining – Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff’.

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