What is Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB)?
A Conflict Science Institute Whitepaper
Mark Baumann, © 2017-2019
IPNB is more than just psychology, it’s a combination of neuroscience and relationship science.
A Model For Understanding How
Humans Function and Interact
Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) offers legal professionals a rich model for understanding how humans function and interact. It describes how neuroscience, physiology, and relational experiences intersect to impact feelings, thinking and decision making.
IPNB offers far more than just a psychology-based approach to understanding people and what drives conflict. It is one of the most broad-based human relationship and function models, incorporating science and theory from dozens of disciplines. Many leading scientists and thinkers from these disciplines have organized their work around the IPNB framework.
Left-Right Neocortex Theory
Dr. Iain McGilchrist’s Left and Right Neocortex Hemisphere theory is one such discipline. He describes, for example, how people can develop a “hemispheric utilization bias” where they tend to preference information processing with just one hemisphere.
One of the most important IPNB-related theories for lawyers is the Polyvagal Theory (PVT) established by Dr. Stephen Porges. It describes a brain-body neural system which governs the fight-flight-freeze and other systems which can dramatically impact a person’s ability to choose action and thoughts freely.
Interpersonal Neurobiology’s concept about integration is extremely informative for the Conflict Science Institute. The brain has many distinct neural systems, such as the systems for sight, smell, communication, safety and fear. Even more interesting, the brain is only one neural system in the body. While the brain-in-the-skull has many neurons, the brain-in-the-gut has about 100 million neurons. The heart also has a (relatively small) neural network which communicates information to the brain with every heartbeat. When these systems are out of sync, people function less than optimally. This could be a good thing during cross-examination of an opposing witness, and a problematic thing during client decision making. CSI’s techniques are always oriented with integration in mind.
IPNB is a transdisciplinary model. Interdisciplinary models are designed to help professionals work together while each stay in their “silo” of expertise. Transdisciplinary models seek to find the best tools from other disciplines so professionals can incorporate them into their own toolbox. CSI is also a transdisciplinary model.
Daniel J. Siegel, et al.
IPNB was founded by Daniel J. Siegel. The Norton Series on IPNB has over 50 books. The Mindsight Institute offers IPNB training. UCLA hosts the IPNB conference. Portland Community College offers an online Foundations in IPNB program at climb.pcc.edu/IPNB. The Global Association for Interpersonal Neurobiology (GAINS) supports IPNB at MindGains.org.
IPNB and DMM
CSI relies on another meta-model, the Dynamic Maturational Model of Attachment and Adaptation (DMM). Both IPNB and DMM are transdisciplinary, incorporate many disciplines, and rely on attachment as a primary source for relationship science. IPNB is more broad-based and more focused on providing information for mental health professionals. In CSI’s experience, using IPNB material for lawyers is easy and only requires, in most instances, a slight change in focus. The DMM is more centered around the human response to danger, families and parenting, and on family related litigation and counseling.
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