The insights gleaned from the observations set forth in our previous article led our group to make further studies of MR. Summarized below are some recent observations, from both clinical experience and objective measurement, that we are using to refine our research protocol.
First, recent EMG recordings have shown that the MR touch can indeed evoke tonic activity in body regions distant from the contact region. For example, maneuvers in the costal arch have elicited involuntary tonic activity in cervical erectors and abdominal muscles. Second, once tonic activity is elicited during a maneuver, it appears to maintain itself with the support of progressive, but less intense, manual input; i.e., the tonic activity, once evoked, seems to be self-perpetuating. Finally, based on the clients’ reported sensations, these remote tonic reactions seem to cause spontaneous tissue release. We have been exploring and observing the self-organizing quality of these reactions. Significantly, the intensity of a client’s felt sense of tissue opening is sometimes greater remotely than locally, and seems to correlate with the perceived degree of firmness. Such firmness, in turn, tends to be directly proportional to the number of bodily segments integrated during the maneuver.
In other words, correlations among key features of MR -- the EMG response, the firmness and integration (observed by the practitioner), and the sensations of tissue opening (reported by the client) -- are becoming clearer.
The intentional inducement of remote client-generated spontaneous responses is accompanied by some noteworthy phenomena: the client’s subjective experience is increasingly reminiscent of the languid tonic movement quality of the spontaneous morning stretch. In this connection, it also appears that visceral structures are being affected. These observations support the hypothesis of a physiological basis for the effects of MR, and also suggest ways that the practitioner’s touch can be trained to be more efficient.
We have also begun to perform simultaneous EEG and EMG measurements. Outstanding among our recorded observations is the so-called sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) during an occipital region maneuver. The SMR was first described in cats ([i]) and is associated with motor learning. Apparently, while the cat is at rest and purring, it is processing the proprioceptive information stored in recent memory in order to enhance its motor capabilities. Neurofeedback training of the SMR rhythm has been used to treat disorders of learning and attention ([ii]), as well as seizures ([iii]). Our observations of SMR, although preliminary, are exiting because they suggest the possibility of inducing recognizable auto-regulatory mechanisms through manipulation.
In keeping with these observations, our new research protocol will include EMG and EEG recordings, along with questionnaires to gather reports of the clients’ and practitioners’ subjective experience and observations. Moreover, to correlate these data with functional variables, we will include stabilometry recordings to assess standing balance.
We hope soon to have a more comprehensive understanding of these phenomena, both theoretically and practically, to share with our colleagues in the MR workshops we offer.
[i] Howe RC and Sterman MB: Cortical-subcortical EEG correlates of suppressed motor behavior during sleep and waking in the cat. J. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 32: 681-695, 1972
[ii] Beauregard M, Levesque J: Functional magnetic resonance imaging investigation of the effects of neurofeedback training on the neural bases of selective attention and response inhibition in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Applied Psychophysiological Biofeedback; 31(1): 3-20, 2006
[iii] Sterman MB, Egner T: Foundation and practice of neurofeedback for the treatment of epilepsy. Applied Psychophysiological Biofeedback, 31(1):21-35, 2006