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  • Jones Chiropractic

The Prefrontal Cortex

The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain needed for us to be able to carry out all goal directed tasks, decision making, memory and attention, intelligence, processing of pain and emotional responses to it, autonomic function, movement control, eye movements and spatial awareness.

The way your spine works actually changes the way your brain works!

Spatial Awareness

Being able to accurately perceive where you are, and where your arms and legs are, is very, very important. You need to know where you are to be able to move without having accidents. And it’s also very important to be able to accurately perceive the world around you! This is a vital skill we need all day every day.


Video Transcript

The way your spine works actually changes the way your brain works!


An amazing new study was conducted in 2015 in a hospital in Denmark.1 A group of people who had never had any chiropractic care before attended two sessions, one with real chiropractic care and one with sham chiropractic care. During both sessions whole head brain waves were recorded. The brain wave recordings, or electroencephalography (EEG for short) showed some very clear changes in the way the brain functions after the chiropractic session, and no changes after the sham session. The study showed a change in brain function of almost 20% on average after the chiropractic session.


This study is really important because it’s the fourth time this very same finding has been published in reputable research journals. And this study’s data was collected and analyzed by non-chiropractic scientists. This means there is no doubt that your spine changes the way your brain operates.


Because the Danish scientists recorded the brain waves, or EEG, over the whole head from 64 individual electrodes they could also work out exactly where the changes in function were happening after the chiropractic session. They were able to show that the changes were most likely taking place in an area of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex. This part of your brain is a little bit like the conductor of the brain, making all the other parts of your brain cooperate together in perfect harmony.


The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain where your executive functions take place.1 This means it’s very important for our everyday behavior. It’s the part of the brain needed for us to be able to carry out all goal directed tasks, decision making, memory and attention, intelligence, processing of pain and emotional responses to it, autonomic function, movement control, eye movements and spatial awareness.


Therefore, demonstrating that chiropractic care changes function of the prefrontal cortex could explain many previous research results that have been documented with chiropractic care, such as improvements in sensorimotor function relevant to falls-prevention in the elderly 2; or better joint-position sense in both the upper limb and the lower limb 2-4; also improved muscle strength in several lower limb muscles5-7; better pelvic floor muscle control 8; and better ability to carry out mental rotations of objects in space9.


Being able to accurately perceive where you are, and where your arms and legs are, is very, very important. You need to know where you are to be able to move without having accidents. And it’s also very important to be able to accurately perceive the world around you! This is a vital skill we need all day every day. To recognize some objects you may need to mentally rotate them. For example, to recognize the letter p versus the letter b if they’re not upright you would need to mentally rotate them in your mind to figure out which letter it was. We all mentally rotate shapes and objects that we see but we may not often think about that we do it or how important it is for our daily life.


Chiropractors have long observed a wide variety of changes in people under their care following adjustments. Along the wide spectrum of claims from those under care are those who say they feel better or are able to focus better and those who notice improvements in movement and coordination. This study takes us a little further down the path of understanding why this could be.


So have you seen your chiropractor lately? You may want to have your brain’s conductor fine-tuned too.


Video References

  1. Lelic D, Niazi IK, Holt K, et al. Manipulation of Dysfunctional Spinal Joints Affects Sensorimotor Integration in the Prefrontal Cortex: A Brain Source Localization Study. Neural plasticity 2016;2016:3704964.

  2. Holt KR, Haavik H, Lee AC, et al. Effectiveness of Chiropractic Care to Improve Sensorimotor Function Associated With Falls Risk in Older People: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2016.

  3. Haavik H, Murphy B. Subclinical neck pain and the effects of cervical manipulation on elbow joint position sense. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics 2011;34:88-97.

  4. Haavik H, Murphy B. The role of spinal manipulation in addressing disordered sensorimotor integration and altered motor control. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology 2012;22(5):768-76.

  5. Christiansen TL, Niazi IK, Holt K, Nedergaard RW, Duehr J, Allen K, Marshall P, Türker KS, Hartvigsen J, Haavik H. The effects of a single session of spinal manipulation on strength and cortical drive in athletes. European journal of applied physiology. 2018 Apr 1;118(4):737-49.

  6. Niazi IK, Turker KS, Flavel S, et al. Changes in H-reflex and V-waves following spinal manipulation. Exp Brain Res 2015.

  7. Holt, K., Niazi, I.K., Nedergaard, R.W., Duehr, J., Amjad, I., Shafique, M., Anwar, M.N., Ndetan, H., Turker, K.S. and Haavik, H., 2019. The effects of a single session of chiropractic care on strength, cortical drive, and spinal excitability in stroke patients. Scientific reports, 9(1), pp.1-10.

  8. Haavik, H., Murphy, B.A. and Kruger, J., 2016. Effect of Spinal Manipulation on Pelvic Floor Functional Changes in Pregnant and Nonpregnant Women: A Preliminary Study. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 39(5), pp.339-347.

  9. Kelly DD, Murphy BA, Backhouse DP. Use of a mental rotation reaction-time paradigm to measure the effects of upper cervical adjustments on cortical processing: a pilot study. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics 2000;23(4):246-51

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