Window of Tolerance - Poly-Vagal Theory

Window Of Tolerance (Polyvagal Theory)

State Of Hyperarousal

  • Sympathetic System Activated: Acceleration of autonomic nervous system response (increased heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow to large muscles, etc. ) – heightened sensations
  • “Flight/Fight” Response Activated: State of hyper-vigilance, anxiety, perception of challenge or danger
  • Disorganized Cognitive Processing: thinking is rigid or chaotic, poor judgment, racing thoughts, obsessive thoughts & behaviors, intrusive emotions/images, emotional reactivity, dread
  • No New Learning Can Take Place

Optimal Zone Of Arousal-window Of Tolerance

  • Parasympathetic System Stimulated (Ventral Vagal Nerve): Deceleration of automatic nervous system response, body regulated. State where emotions tolerated and information integrated – NORMALIZED SENSATIONS
  • Full Activation of Pre-Frontal Cortex: greater access to intuition and insight, calm, alert, relaxed, aware, coherent
  • Social Engagement System Activated: Self-soothing/emotion regulation system activated, fear modulated
  • Experience Full Range of Emotions: (joy, grief, anger, etc.) with a sense of control and awareness of options.
  • New Learning Can Take Place

State Of Hypoarousal

  • Parasympathetic System Activated (Dorsal Vagal Nerve): Extreme deceleration of autonomic nervous system response (decreased heart rate, blood flow to extremities, etc.) – ABSENCE OF SENSATIONS
  • “Freeze” Response Activated: slowed or disabled thinking process, dissocation of awareness, isolation/withdrawal, depression, numb, hopelessness, shut-down response, disabled defensive responses
  • No New Learning Can Take Place