Article: Where Does Somatic Memory in the Body Reside? [Fascia & Fitness]

“Traumatic memories are often experienced as “relived” rather than remembered, which is why people experiencing them react as though they are re-experiencing the situations in which they were traumatized. When a traumatic memory is triggered, the somatosensory experience of the person reliving the memory can be powerful; the whole body “remembers” and replicates the sensations of the trauma, including sympathetic nervous system fight, flight, or freeze responses. The psychophysiological experience is of reliving the trauma, what we call a flashback. In this situation, the client often effectively dissociates from the present reality and is caught in the state of re-living the traumatic memory.

“Whereas memories of ordinary events, even those containing somatosensory and emotional components, do not have the somatosensory texture and depth of flashbacks, making it much easier to remain connected to external stimuli and to experience being present in the moment while simultaneously feeling (remembered) sensations or emotions.”

[The article continues with remarks from Til Luchau, who I desperately want to train with some day. I have to be content with his Advance Trainings fb group for the time being.]

The state-dependant memory model discussed above [not included in this excerpt, read the full article] is more nuanced and sophisticated, and so arguably more useful. It brings to mind a book I’m currently reading: Lisa Feldman Barrett’s How Emotions are Made (2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 9780544133310). In her “theory of constructed emotions,” Barrett builds on the idea that our brains are structured to predict what we will see, taste, here, and feel. Apparently, there’s good evidence that the brain only processes things it does not predict. In this model, preloaded but widely networked caches of information (concepts) and meaning (valence) are used to minimize the brain’s energy use and maximize processing time.

“Interestingly, she writes that the brain’s wiring causes internal sensation and body signals (interoception and proprioception) to reach the brain’s processing centers before external perceptions (exteroception), such as sight, hearing etc. This sets up the brain to rapidly predict what it’ll perceive exteroceptively, based largely on past bodily experience (as well as language) what’s going to happen outside. In other words, we take in sensory information only until our brains can predict what will happen.
“This is the proposed mechanism behind both perceptions and emotion: for example, in this model, we are not reacting to our perceptions with emotions, we are neurologically predicting what will happen, and it is our predictions that shape our perceptions, emotions, and actions.”
Read the full article (and Til’s full commentary, plus comments from Walt Fritz) from Fascia & Fitness: Where Does Somatic Memory in the Body Reside?
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Article: Just the Two of Us: Holding Hands Can Ease Pain, Sync Brainwaves [CU Bolder Today]

“We have developed a lot of ways to communicate in the modern world and we have fewer physical interactions,” said lead author Pavel Goldstein, a postdoctoral pain researcher in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at CU Boulder. “This paper illustrates the power and importance of human touch.” 

“The study is the latest in a growing body of research exploring a phenomenon known as “interpersonal synchronization,” in which people physiologically mirror the people they are with. It is the first to look at brain wave synchronization in the context of pain, and offers new insight into the role brain-to-brain coupling may play in touch-induced analgesia, or healing touch.

“Goldstein came up with the experiment after, during the delivery of his daughter, he discovered that when he held his wife’s hand, it eased her pain.

“I wanted to test it out in the lab: Can one really decrease pain with touch, and if so, how?”

Read Lisa Marshall’s full article at CU Boulder Today: Just the Two of Us: Holding Hands Can Ease Pain, Sync Brainwaves

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Article: Mindful Touch Can Modify the Brain’s Functional Connectivity [Fascia & Fitness]

“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

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