“The study was a randomized-controlled single-blinded study with 40 healthy right-handed adult participants. The effect of touch on the client’s brain was monitored using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
“The clients were randomly assigned to one of the two touch treatment groups:
- Therapist focusing on tactile perception from the hands (mindful touch group)
- Therapist focusing on auditory stimuli (non-mindful touch group/sound focused group).
“The therapists in the mindful touch group were asked to focus their attention on the feeling/perception from the hands that were contacting the client, i.e., the therapist had to feel the client’s tissue regarding its consistency, density, temperature, responsiveness, and motility (e.g., myofascial movements).
“The therapists in the sound-focused (non-mindful touch) group were asked to direct their attention toward acoustic stimuli (beeps) that were delivered through headphones. These beeps were delivered at a random interval between 0.5 seconds and 2.0 seconds; and the therapist had to count the number of beeps per session.
“The results revealed that sustained static touch applied by a therapist resulted in significant differences in brain activity of the person receiving the touch depending on whether the person giving the touch was focused on the touch or focused instead of random beeping sounds. Tthese changes were noted in connectivity between regions of the clients’ brains known as the posterior cingulate cortex, insula, and inferior-frontal gyrus.
“These functional connectivity changes are markedly different only after 15 min of touching. In other words, if the therapist is mindful and sustained over time, it can elicit significant effects in the client’s functional brain connectivity between areas processing the interoceptive and attentional value of touch.”
Read the full article at Fascia & Fitness, plus commentary from Joseph E. Muscolino: Mindful Touch Can Modify the Brain’s Functional Connectivity