"Tickle Your Amygdala" Explained
As for CORTICAL control of auto-amygdala functions, i.e "conscious tickling the amygdala from non-thinking reaction forward into conscious creative advanced thinking"-- There is no controversy among learned persons about this whatsoever. You can identify it, and then use it...
"Tickle your amygdala"-- This is a phrase that refers to conscious cortical control of lower brain functions. Its just a useful phrase to illustrate that you have a neuroprocess that engages other brain processes--- like flipping the light switch on your wall.
Example: You are startled by a loud noise in back of you. "Your amygdala clicks backward, automatically"- Fight or flight reactions happen instantaneously to enhance self survival. Or for example, you stumble upon a snake in a forest path- amygdala "clicks" backward. 
Where as "clicking backwards" is an automatic process to engage survival, fight or flight, and such-- "TICKLE forward" refers to conscious deliberate cortical (higher brain) functions to overcome lower brain limitations. Thus, you can engage "Creative- Imaginative-Cooperative- Intuitive-Logical" process dependent on primarily increased frontal lobes processes to SOLVE the PROBLEM of "snake in path".
The difference is, in the lower brain "clicking backwards solution"- you shoot and kill the snake, or simply run like hell till you drop after you've run out of breath or stumbled over a cliff.
In the higher brain "tickle forward solution", you identify the snake as non-lethal, or you simply calm yourself down, you don't panic, and you walk around the snake, or you back up slowly. I.e., you THINK instead of merely REACT
The ability to
CONSCIOUSLY and deliberately engage additional frontal lobes options
in a threatening, unfamiliar, and problem situation is a matter of
training, education, planning, and is available to anyone who has a
functioning pre-frontal cortex (most of us).
ILLUSTRATION of Intelligence Click
If you see a mountain lion in your path, if you do nothing but automatically "click backwards", you run like hell, and then the cougar thinks you are prey and you are the cougar's lunch.
If you see this same mountain lion, and you "tickle forward" you remember what you learned when you stop and used your advanced brain to read the brochure in the Forest Ranger Cabin near the entrance to the park that said "...if you encounter a mountain lion, DON'T RUN, make yourself appear as big as possible, raise your hands and wave, make lots of noise." And you survive.
THAT is the difference between clicking your amygdala backward and tickling it forward. In terms of EMOTIONAL RESPONSE, the human brain is wired very well to reward advanced thinking and discourage insufficient advanced thinking. That's where the "pleasure and pain" come into the picture.
Here's how Mother nature so cleverly wired up our brain to reward smart thinking and use of brain potential, and discourage dormant brain thinking:
NEGATIVE NOTHINGNESS AND BOREDOM- When you use little of your brain potential, i.e. just the core reactionary part of your brain (McLean's Reptile Brain) excluding more advanced frontal lobes type processes- you can only experience pain, boredom, fear, and at very best, short term pleasure. Think of a reptile sitting on a rock, all alone. But with your human body and brain. Bored. Lonely. Cold. How about a teenager who hasn't yet grown into full frontal lobes utilization (the frontal lobes are not fully developed till after 20 years or more), and someone who hasn't tickled on "cause and effect" circuits.
"Hey lets get REALLY DRUNK!!! Let's spend all our money on 2 cases of BEER! And go take dad's car for a spin!!! YEA!!!!!" This is short term fun of insufficient frontal lobes processes. Hangover if lucky. Dead at 17 if not so lucky.
Back in the
late 1800's, Phineas Gage blew apart his frontal lobes working on
the railroad with an explosive charge and a railroad tie splitting
his cranium. He taught us that without the ability to "tickle
forward" into our frontal lobes (now mush on the railroad), life
becomes a random sequence of meaningless and frustrating events.
POSITIVE REWARD: On the other hand-- frontal lobes
creative-imaginative-cooperative-intuitive-logical circuits fully
Picasso or Einstein. Aerosmith after they got sober. Happy family life.
Job you like. A little money in the bank. Money saved for trip to Europe or new drum set. Nature REWARDS frontal lobes thinking with PLEASURE. Self esteem. Happiness of Success and goal achievement. "EUREKA!! I figgered it out!" Don't that new song sound good? Don't that picture look pretty? Happiness of Success and goal achievement.
Now, of course, no one wants to disengage permanently one's "reptile brain", as Dr. McLean has called the primitive reactive core brain. You need this instantaneous survival reaction- its there for a good reason. But you don't want your life RULED by it. The frontal lobes evolved because the ADDITION of advanced frontal lobes processes like: abstract thought; imagination; planning; understanding cause and effect; concepts of time; creativity; cooperation. This enhanced survival far beyond the limitations of the reptile brain and "clicking backwards" alone. Thus, we evolved bigger and bigger frontal lobes. To tickle forward into. Thank you Mother.
So, if someone has an objection to or denies the idea that one can "tickle forward" and thus improve one's life and ability to survive- this would imply that such a person does not believe it is in one's interest- much less a possibility- to consciously and purposefully engage the vast unlimited potential inside one's own brain, specifically in the frontal lobes functions of CICIL (creativity-imagination-cooperation-intuition-logic). A rather depressing and self-defeating attitude for anyone to have.
The trick is
to remember and make use of frontal lobes processes and make long
term solutions rather than be a slave to reptilian brain backward
clicking short term solutions.
"Amygdala tickling" is simply a convenient phrase to describe different functions involving the amygdaloid body, both voluntarily modified processes, and involuntary processes, which are extremely well known among even the most modestly educated person.
It should be noted that the popular press emphasizes the negative conditioning responses of the amygdala. However this "nutty" little organ also processes and learns POSITIVE REWARD REINFORCEMENT. Its not just all punishment, fear and pain conditioning. It helps you to remember when you do something that feels good just as well.
The degree to which any individual has cortical control over their lower brain, the degree by which any individual can tickle forward or click backward-- this is a matter of experience, education, and a knowledge of self and environment. If the ideas above seem "wacko" to anyone... gee whiz. :-)
Brain Magic. Is the brain capable of "magic"? Consider this: Australian Neurology Nobel Laureate Sir John Eccles. (Lecture: University of Colorado, University Memorial Center Boulder, July 31, 1974.) "The brain indicates its powers are endless."
The human brain is one of, if not THE most mysterious and "magical" things in the universe. We are surrounded- IMMERSED DAILY in a continual environment of things, powers, and phenomenon we completely take for granted, things that were thought IMPOSSIBLE a hundred years ago and less, but now undeniable direct and indirect expressions of human brain thought, creativity, and imagination.
Who is to say that out-of-body experience, prediction and manipulation of clouds and weather, and all types of other-normal experience is not valid or even possible with the human infinity think machine? We have just begun to learn what is possible with the human brain.
Conscious control of various "neurobiological" functions has been going on forever, since humans began telling jokes and engaged in singing. Every time you do something that you know will cause a positive emotional reaction in your brain (or for that matter a negative emotion), you are exercising brain self-control, and consciously altering your neuro-function.
The AMYGDALA: A VARIABLE RHEOSTAT
The amygdala is all about conditioned responses-- how we respond to THREATS, and NEW UNFAMILIAR OBJECTS and DATA, as well as the known and familiar. This extends far beyond see a hot flame or a snake in our path. The amygdala also processes HUMANS and their perceived intrinsic threats.
Example: Your amygdala clicks backward when you see a human lunging at you with a club. It "clicks" backward, and your primal reptile brain survival mechanisms activate. Fight or flight. Don't like the word "click"? Fine, substitute your own phrase for transmission of electrical chemical signals along neuropathways.
But your amygdala is not just an ON or OFF switch. There are degrees, like the rheostat on your wall controlling your heat, or the accelerator pedal on your car. Sometimes the amygdala switch clicks backward FULL and your heart rate skyrockets. But sometimes your amygdala just clicks a little, like when you tell a lie to protect yourself, and your heart rate just jumps a few beats a minute.
In the same way, you react-- and this includes unconscious or subconscious reaction to cues- to all kinds of stimuli in your environment, including persons, places, and things. If you perceive a THREAT- your amygdala clicks backward into defensive behaviors-- and this affects your cortical thinking, more often than not in limiting rational evaluation.
The next obvious question is this: What do humans perceive as threats- minimal or otherwise?
Remember the Twilight Zone episode where the harmless Neanderthal visits a neighboring cave clan? He is stoned to death- not because he is a real threat, but simply because he is UNFAMILIAR and OUTSIDE THE GROUP.
Welcome to Human Brain Behavior 2006. Things (including our brain anatomy) haven't changed much since we lived in caves.
Humans form groups of all fashions, and to the degree your status, self-esteem, ranking, is perceived as threatened, your subconscious reaction to NEW will take place--- via that little almond shaped button inside your brain.
If it clicks backward into reaction-- you attack. If it tickles forward into reason, you think.
this, and then you've then understood far beyond what most armchair
neurologists claim to know.
"Amygdala tickling" and "amygdala clicking" are simple and useful phrase with a specific purpose of describing a simplified model of amygdala process, process accepted and described in the medical literature. This term has not YET appeared in scientific medical texts, but...
One day it will.