AS the field of neuroscience (the study of the brain and the nervous system) progresses, it is evident the insights into the brain’s functioning can be used to enhance effectiveness,
performance and productivity in organisations, lowering absenteeism and raising productivity and profit at the same time.
31 July 2012 | The Citizen
PNI, or psychoneuroimmunology, is where this intersection of the workplace and neuroscience takes place. It is perhaps easier to understand if it is divided into its three more recognisable constituent categories: psychology, neurology and immunology.
Psychology is the study of our minds, Neurology the branch of medicine that deals with disorders of the nervous system and immunology is a branch of biomedicine that looks at the structure and functioning of our immune system and our ability to fend off infection and disease.
PNI bridges the three disciplines on the basis of there being direct links between them and where each one has an effect on the other.
As an accredited scientific application PNIhas implications for HR management. Its effects are so profound it is regarded as a requirement in companies taking investment in its people
Through cultivating higher levels of wellness in their workforce, companies benefit from increased profitability through a more productive workforce. While the intelligence of PNI
applies to the corporate environment, it is of interest to sectors such as medical aid funders and insurers and the medical and para-medical professions.
We think of wellness more holistically and as a concept it means more than health by incorporating reference to quality of life, with wellness referring to high levels of satisfaction
with ones’ life. Wellness is unique to each individual and is determined by connections between body, mind and spirit.
PNI’s primary interests are the interaction between psychological processes and the bodies nervous and immune systems. It is a field where new insights have come to light as a result of
frequent communication between various scientific disciplines. It demonstrates a direct link between your thoughts and health. PNI offers the hard data confirming that psycho- social
stressors can lead to actual health changes.
Immune changes due to stress are central to PNI research. On a medical level, theorists now propose stress triggers cognitive responses, which induces nervous system and endocrine
changes which ultimately impair immune function.
The interaction between brain, psychological and physical processes are what determine optimal levels of wellness, performance and leadership. Diagnosis programmes exist that accurately evaluate and intervene in the wellness and associated performance profile of an individual.
Depending on diagnostic results, individuals can either be referred to associated professions or to accredited coaching programmes.