Technological Advances & the Mind-Body Connection

Ten reports presented in the International Journal of Psychophysiology (2008; doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2008.09.002) highlight how technological improvements are enabling more detailed measurement of mind-body interactions. For example, researchers noted that a response such as sweating, which occurs on the outside of the body through the peripheral nervous system, is regulated by the brain, and that when this response occurs, it impacts other activities regulated by the central nervous system, such as attention and emotion. This experiential chain of events&mdashfrom sweating to an attentional and emotional reaction&mdashmay ultimately affect behavior.

Instruments that gather psychophysiological data can now record, measure and track a multitude of these interactions. Authors of one of the reports suggested that their “findings demonstrate the representation of feeling states in the brain as they unfold at a millisecond level.”

Another example of how technology can aid in understanding the mind-body connection was explored in a report on listening to music. Attending to music can alter physiological responses, as well as emotional states. In healthy individuals, provocative music stimulates a skin conductive response and triggers activity in the emotional centers of the brain. In people with damage in either the somatosensory or emotional areas of the brain, physiological and emotional responses to music are altered. The new, sophisticated instruments are helping scientists understand how and why the changes happen and how a healthy brain seamlessly integrates a multitude of sensory and emotional experiences.

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