by Linda Tellington Jones
The Connection of the mouth to the Limbic part of the Brain
From the desk of Linda Tellington Jones – Published in “Stay in TTouch” Newsletter for practitioners
It may have been 10 years later that I received a note from Ann Finley, TTEAM practitioner from Idaho. She had just read that there is a connection between the mouth and the limbic system, and said that the limbic system was considered to be the seat of emotions and the part of the brain where learning occurred.
This was very exciting and made sense to me because of the transformation I had observed over the years when I had simply done lots of mouth work on a horse.
I can’t remember how many more years passed before I read Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence, but it was another ah-ha experience when I read his explanation of the relationship between taste and smell and the limbic system – and the connection to our emotions. I was again excited when I read an article in Time Magazine last year that validated the connection of the limbic system to our emotional states. (It could have been in Newsweek. I’m not sure since I read both).
As you can see it has been a process of clues over many years that has validated the usefulness of mouth work and the relationship to the limbic system, the effect on emotions and potential for increasing an animal – or persons – ability to learn.
We now have many hundreds of examples, not only horses, but for dogs, cats and humans.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t include Pictures in this Newsletter because they add too much bulk to the file for downloading, but all of the pictures mentioned were taken in JHB when Linda was here last year.
Photo 1: Carmen works with Siobhan’s Boerboel/Staffie cross, Doggy who made one of the greatest turnarounds during the week. In the beginning he was very concerned about strangers and growled often when anyone came close. By the end of the week she was integrated into the group and comfortable with former strangers TTouching him. Here Carmen lightly contains his muzzle with her left hand (thumb on top of the nose and fingers under the chin) while TTouching his entire face with her palm softly over the eyes and her fingers reaching all the way to the sensitive and unfamiliar-to-touch end of the nose.
Photo 2: A Jack Russell quietly resting his muzzle in Nancy’s hand while she does Lying Leopard TTouches on his head.
Photo 3: Nicholas cups Bradie’s muzzle while gently TTouching the edges of the nose and outside of the front of the mouth. TTouching this spot right under the nose – on the outside of the lips as well as directly on the gums – seems to help dogs think and make good choices. Bradie was very interesting. He had been successful at agility until he had a bad experience with another dog and became very stressed and unable to focus and was hyper-active with much “fooling around”. Scotty had thought that distracting him with lots of play would help, but it hadn’t.
During the week he made huge changes with a combination of “The Suitcase” (using the Step-In Harness/Balance Leash across the chest combination) and a second leash on his body for the Suitcase, to be used whenever necessary to calm and balance him. The Mouth TTouches were another positive contributing factor. The change by the end of the week was a big relief to Scotty and her dog.
Photo 4: Kalyn, Niki Lucas’ German Shepherd female, calmly accepting containment of the muzzle with the thumb over the nose. This positioning of containment of the muzzle – resting the muzzle lightly in the hand and accepting the thumb over the “stop” (top of the muzzle) has the effect of creating a new level of trust in dogs. Kalyn gained much confidence during the week from the Mouth TTouches and from my very focuses and precise TTouches all over her tail. Niki had not been able to groom her tail for quite a while, and Kalyn was protective of her hindquarter, and looked off stiff in her back and hind legs and uneven with the movement behind.
By the end of the week she looked like a new dog – moving with a smooth even gait with much increase in confidence. She also began to enjoy working with other people, which was a new behavior.