Adaptive Information Processing (AIP)

  • Naturally occurring adaptive neurobiological process that processes physically stored life experiences / information
  • Memories consist of perception of elements from the experience
    • Sensory information – images, sounds, tastes, smells, touches
    • Thoughts
    • Emotions
    • Physical sensations
  • Memories stored in associative memory networks
    • Hebb’s Axiom (1949) “Neurons that fire together wire together”
    • New experiences (internal or external) link to existing similar memory networks
    • The expanding network reinforces previous experiences
  • These memories form the basis of:
    • Perceptions / interpretations
      • Distorted conclusion(s) we draw
      • Symptoms – not the cause
    • Attitudes / feelings
    • Behaviors
    • Mental health and dysfunction
  • Memory networks may be:
    • Positive / + /adaptive
    • Negative / – / maladaptive

Trauma’s Effect on Memory Formation & Processing

  • High levels of disturbance result in:
    • Disruption of normal AIP causes dysfunctional storage of unprocessed information
    • Memories stored in implicit / nondeclarative memory system
  • The memories of the disturbing event are stored in a way that prevents access with adaptive
    information networks
  • Processing of the maladaptively stored information expedites linkage / access to the adaptive
    memory networks, transforming all elements of memory
  • Non-adaptive memory elements are eliminated
  • Processing results in:
    • A presumed shift from implicit / nondeclarative to explicit / declarative memory and from episodic to semantic memory systems (Stickgold, 2002)
      • Episodic memory is the serial autobiographical recall of events
      • Semantic memory is a person’s acquired knowledge of the external world
    • An adaptive shift in memory elements
      • Sense of self
      • Reactive behaviors
      • Behavioral and physical symptoms
      • Sense of age and time

Clinical Implications of AIP – Trait Change vs. State Change Promoted

  • A mood state is a temporary way of feeling or being and not a part of personality
    • State change is the ability to shift from one emotional state to another, like the weather
  • A trait is a stable, relatively unchanging pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviors, like the
    • Trait change is a change in the personality,
    • Trait change is a product of processing

EMDR as a Psychotherapeutic Approach

  • EMDR is a distinct comprehensive psychotherapeutic approach guided by the Adaptive Information Processing model
  • There are eight phases that are compatible with all major psychotherapeutic orientations
  • EMDR is not exclusively a trauma treatment

Distinguishing Characteristics from Other PTSD Treatments

  • Rapid decline in SUD (Subjective Unit of Disturbance) during treatment
  • Immediate, spontaneous change in cognitions without Socratic challenging
  • No narrative necessary (possible to process the memory without knowing the content)
  • No homework necessary beyond “just notice”
  • Increased recall of details
  • Based on spontaneous processing

Integrative Elements of EMDR Applied through AIP

  • Psychodynamic → etiology of internal experiences
  • Behavior → change the behavioral responses
  • Cognitive → beliefs
  • Experiential → emotions
  • Somatic → focus on the body
  • Hypnotic → imagery work
  • Systems → contextual / relational understanding