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Blind spot Fovea centralis Retina 30 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k j a n u a r y/ fe b r u a r y 2 0 24 THE SOMATIC EDGE By Til Luchau and Jeffrey Bramhall Your client's brain is an always-on prediction machine. That's not to say that it's always whirring away generating weather reports or stock forecasts during their bodywork session (at least, we hope it isn't). Instead, your client's brain is busy predicting every detail of their bodywork experience—from how your touch feels to them to how comfortable they are on your table to their sense of the session's overall helpfulness (or lack of it). The concept of predictive coding suggests your client's actual in-the- moment sensory information plays only a minor role in their brain's formation of its perceptions and impressions about your work. The majority of our internal experience, predictive coding says, is shaped by matching tiny snippets of in-the- moment sensory data (the pressure of your touch, for example), with past experiences (have I felt something like this before?), contextual cues (in a place or relationship like this?), all f lavored by autonomic predispositions (did I come in feeling relaxed and safe, or on-alert and watchful?). Visual perception provides a fascinating example of how prediction forms our perceptive experience. Your eye sends detailed information to your brain from just a tiny portion of your retinal field—as a result, your brain "sees" only a very small area (it's about the size of a dime held at arm's length) with any clarity. But this bit of detailed vision (relayed from the eye's pinpoint-size fovea centralis, to be precise) is all your brain needs to extrapolate or predict the subjective clarity with which you "see" your entire visual field (Image 1). The brain accomplishes this by "remembering" the details of what it saw or expected to see in other visual areas, and then reassembling these into the prediction that we experience as our central and peripheral fields of vision. The Brain in Bodywork Unlocking the Power of Predictive Coding KEY POINTS • A client's sensations and experience in a session likely have more to do with their brain's sensory predictions than about what we actually do with our hands. • We can use this principle to help shift our clients' habitual tension, pain, or movement challenges by working with them to help their brains discover new experiences and update its predictions. Your brain "predicts" much of what you see with your eyes. The pinpoint-sized fovea centralis is the only portion of the retina that sends detailed information to your brain. This tiny field of vision, about the size of a dime held at arm's length, is all the brain needs to extrapolate (or predict) the clarity with which you "see" your entire visual field. 1 TECHNIQUE

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