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EFFECTS OF FLOATATION REST ON SERUM CORTISOL IN RHEUMATOID ARTHRITICS

Betsy A. McCormick, Doré R. Shafransky, Thomas H. Fine, and John W. Turner, Jr.

Medical College of Ohio

Rheumatoid arthritics (RA) is a painful debilitating disease involving synovial lined joints effecting millions worldwide. Currently treatment is pharmacological and expensive. The etiology is unknown but one cause may be a defective hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis resulting in abnormal cortisol levels. Additionally since psychophysiological changes which occur during relaxation are often opposite of responses to various disease states of RA, it is likely that relaxation training can benefit RA patients. This study examined the effects of two specific relaxation technologies on cortisol in RA, autogenic training (AT) (n=7) and floatation REST (n=7). The former is psychophysiological self-control therapy. The latter is a potent mediator of relaxation. Previous REST studies demonstrated decreased levels and variability in cortisol. Serum levels of cortisol were measured using RIA. No significant differences in cortisol across, between groups, or in a time-group interaction occurred.

John W. Turner, Jr., Ph.D., Dept. of Physiology and Molecular Medicine, Medical College of Ohio, 3000 Arlington Avenue, Toledo, OH 43699

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EFFECTS OF RESTRICTED ENVIRONMENTAL STIMULATION THERAPY ON CORTISOL, PAIN AND INDICES OF INFLAMMATION IN RHEUMATOID ARTHRITICS

Thomas H. Fine, MA, Betsy McCormick, BA, Dore Shefransky, DO, and J.W. Turner, PhD. Medical College of Ohio, Department of Psychiatry and Department of Physiology.

This proposal examines specific effects of Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) and Autogenic Training (AT) on rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is a chronic, painful and debilitating disease which effects millions worldwide. The proposed study examined the effects of AT or REST and AT on RA-related measures in rheumatoid arthritics. All sessions are 40 minutes. One group received AT while a second group received AT+REST. In this study individuals were monitored for changes in erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP), Plasma Cortisol, and reported pain. Measurements were made at baseline, during treatment and post treatment follow up. No significant differences were found between groups or across sessions for cortisol, CRP, or ESR. Pain measurements showed a significantly greater decrease across sessions in the REST + AT group than in the AT group. The study supports the use of REST as an intervention for RA related pain. The mechanism of this effect remains unclear.

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EFFECTS OF SIX HOURS OF LIGHTED AND LIGHT-FREE DRY FLOATATION RESTRICTED ENVIRONMENTAL STIMULATION (REST) ON CHANGES IN ABSORPTION AND MOOD STATE

Tim Justice, Arreed Barabasz, and Mike Trevisan Washington State University, Pullman, WA

This study investigated the effects of dry flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation (REST) on transient mood states as measured by the Profile of Mood States (POMS) and on absorption as measured by the Tellegen Absorption Scale (TAS). Thirty subjects were assigned to either a lighted REST condition (N=10), a light-free REST condition or a no treatment control condition (N=10). Experimental participants floated supine on a salt water filled bladder using dry flotation REST (Relaxation Dynamics, Boulder, CO) for six hours. Participants in the lighted REST condition wore Ganzfeld goggles while participants in the light free REST condition wore a sleeping mask. Pre-to post REST and 2 week follow-up results showed that participants exposed to dry flotation REST in the lighted condition had a significant decrease in absorption. No significant changes were found for participants in the light free REST or control condition. Participants in the light free condition reported a decrease in anger pre to post REST.

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EFFECTS OF DRY FLOTATION REST ON HYPNOTIZABILITY, EEG AND SKIN CONDUCTANCE IN LIGHTED AND UNLIGHTED CONDITIONS

Marianne Barabasz, Arreed Barabasz, Jennifer Darakjy-Jaeger, Timothy Justice, Katherine Anderson, Mike Trevisan
Washington State University
Pullman, WA

The effects of dry flotation restricted environmental stimulation (REST) on hypnotizability, EEG and skin conductance were tested in lighted and light free conditions. Washington State University community volunteers (N=30, ages 18-30) were assigned to lighted (N=10) REST, unlighted (N=10) REST or control (N=10) conditions after participation in hypnosis maximizing (plateauing) experiences (a minimum of 12 inductions prior to the experiment). The Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale: Form C (SHSS:C) (Weitzenhoffer & Hilgard, 1962) was administered prior to the experimental or control condition, after the 6 hour exposure to the condition and at a two-week follow-up. EEG and skin conductance level (SCL) data were collected during REST. Participants exposed to both lighted and unlighted dry flotation REST significantly improved their SHSS:C scores from pre to post and from pre to follow-up confirming Barabasz’s (1982) theory of REST responding. Lighted and unlighted REST participants produced significantly higher SHSS:C scores at both posttest and follow-up than participants exposed to the Control procedures. The unlighted group showed significantly higher SHSS:C scores than the unlighted REST group. Consistent with Barabasz (1982), EEG alpha densities showed a U shaped curve while SCL responses showed an inverted U curve during REST. Consistent with Suedfeld (1980), these data support an arousal adaptation response to REST.

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EFFECTS OF REST AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT VIDEOS ON RECOVERY FROM INDUCED STRESS

Daneil Christensen and Marianne Barabasz
Washington State University

This investigation tested the effects of dry flotation REST and videos of Unthreatening Natural Environment (UNE) scenes on recovery from general stress and induced stress. Hypnotizability was considered as a moderator variable. High and low hypnotizable subjects were randomly assigned to one of four groups: 1) REST/UNE (N=8 Highs; 8 Lows), 2) REST only (N=8 Highs; 8 Lows), 3) UNE only (N=8 Highs, 8 Lows) and, 4) No treatment control (N=8 Highs; 8 Lows). A 10 minute videiotape of woodworking accidents was used for standardized stress induction. Participants spent 50 minutes in their assigned conditions. Stress arousal was measured using the Subjective Units of Disturbance Scale (SUDS), the Tension-Anxiety (T-A) subscale of the Profile of Mood States (POMS), skin conductance level (SCL) and peripheral skin temperature (PST). Physiological findings showed that the two REST groups demonstrated lower arousal (p<.05) as measured by SCL during the recovery period than the UNE Only and No-Treatment control groups. The addition of the UNE videotape in the REST/UNE group did not add additional benefits. The three treatment groups demonstrated lower self-reported anxiety (SUDS ratings) over the course of the experiment than the No-Treatment control group. Hypnotizability was unrelated to stress recovery or imaginitive involvement experiences. The SCL findings add to the growing body of data demonstrating the efficacy of REST in reducing physiological arousal. This is the first study to use a standardized stress induction stimulus. SCL measures demonstrated that REST is effective in recovery from induced stress and further reduction of stress over time. The expected beneficial effect of exposure to UNE scenes was not supported.

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THE EFFECTS OF DRY FLOTATION REST ON MARKSMANSHIP PERFORMANCE: MORE DATA

Arreed Barabasz, Marianne Barabasz, Dennis Warner and James Bauman
Washington State University
Pullman, WA

This research used dry flotation REST (Relaxation Dynamics, Boulder, CO) and controlled for relaxation and guided imagery confounds present in previous research on REST enhancement of performance. In phase one, ten students enrolled in a University marksmanship class who were exposed to one hour of REST showed significantly higher accuracy scores than 10 matched classmate controls who were exposed only to one hour of relaxation training. In phase two, Bauman (1995) employed 48 university marksmanship students to compare the effects of wet flotation REST, dry flotation REST, relaxation training and control conditions. Treatment participants were exposed to one 50 minute session per week for two weeks. All participants received the same instruction in marksmanship and fired the same number of practice shots. The dry flotation REST group performed significantly better at follow-up than the marksmanship practice only control group.

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REST EFFECTS ON HUMAN PERFORMANCE

Marianne Barabasz and Arreed Barabasz
Washington State University
Pullman, WA

This comprehensive review of over twenty experimentally controlled studies begins by placing sensory deprivation research and Professor Peter Suedfeld’s introduction of the term REST into historical perspective. Next, a brief theoretical basis of REST effects on human performance is described. Non-sports related research on REST effects are reviewed including complex problem solving, scientific creativity, mood states, complex psycho-motor tasks, instrument flight crew performance, signal detection, learning of chemistry and piano performance. Sports performance research includes studies involving both recreational and professional player, includes gymnastics, basketball, tennis, skiing, rifle marksmanship and darts. The research show increasing levels of sophistication and controls while demonstrating both the effectiveness and limitations of chamber, dry flotation and wet flotation REST. It is striking to note that comparability of results despite the involvement of dozens of different researchers testing REST in a wide variety of human performance tasks.

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EFFECTS OF RATIONAL-EMOTIVE BEHAVIOR THERAPY AND REST ON SOCIAL ANXIETY

Patrick O’Toole and Marianne Barabasz
Washington State University
Pullman, WA

The effects of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) message and REST plus the REBT message presentation on the reduction of social anxiety was tested. Because hypnotizability has been shown to be enhanced following six hours of chamber REST (A. Barabasz, 1982), it was examined as a moderator variable for both REST and REBT. Irrational beliefs were measured using the Irrational Beliefs Test (IBT). Social anxiety was measured using the Interaction Anxiousness Scale, the Shyness Scale and a behavioral measure of individual participant’s personal sense of anxiety. Participants were matched on standardized hypnotizability scores and then distributed among treatment groups to ensure that each group was equivalent. Participants were assigned to 1) REST plus REBT-derived message, 2) REBT therapy only 3) REST only or 4) a no treatment control. Following the initial series of assessments, participants spent 6 hours in the assigned condition. Both within and between group comparisons were conducted on pre-, post- and one month follow-up test scores. Post-experimental hypnotizability testing, and inquiry of general experience and imaginative involvement were conducted to check for changes in hypnotizability levels, content and adherence to treatment protocol. The results will be discussed.

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ENHANCING ROWING ERGOMETER PERFORMANCE THROUGH FLOTATION REST

Sean Richardson
University of British Columbia

The examination of the effectiveness of flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation technique (REST) as a performance enhancement tool in sport has produced positive results. However, previous studies using flotation REST to enhance gross motor performance combined the technique with imaginal practice, confounding the effect that REST-only might have on performance. Although more recent studies have examined the effects of flotation REST-only on athletic performance, they have only looked at fine motor activity. This study tested the effects of flotation REST-only on rowing ergometer performance, a gross motor activity. Furthermore, this study attempted to ascertain, through carefully constructed questionnaires, the reasons why athletes might or might not benefit from including a period of flotation REST in their training regime. Subjects (n=40) were a group of male and female, novice and varsity university rowers. Subjects were matched based on previous ergometer competition scores and then randomly assigned to either a flotation REST condition or chamber/relaxation control condition. All groups were exposed to two administrations of either one of the conditions and were pre- and post-tested on a 1000 meter rowing ergometer trial; difference scores were compared. The study also coincided with intra-team ergometer competitions, allowing the experimenter to compare scores form a source external to the study. The results are discussed in terms of which sports might benefit form flotation REST and under what conditions it may best be applied.

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ALTERED STATES: FROM FICTION TO FACT: INTRODUCING THE ALTERED WAKING STATES INDUCTION METHOD

Richard Bonk, M.Ed.
Wellness Center Etc., Inc.

Although REST has been the subject of a multitude of research studies and has been shown to be useful in clinical applications much of the public’s awareness of the floatation experience stems from the movie Altered States. And, it is often in the hope of producing unique, stimulating and consciousness altering states that many people decide to float. For many individuals, floating becomes a “done that,” once in a lifetime experience when they emerge from the Epsom salt waters relaxed though certainly not significantly “altered.” However, many regular floaters often experience heightened states of awareness and unusual mental phenomena. In an effort to examine these unique states in a controlled setting it was important to develop a technique in which these ephemeral states could be reliably and regularly facilitated. Following is the 1) an introduction to the Alternate Waking States Induction Method (AWSIM), a technique which has proven effective in the engendering of “altered” states of consciousness in individuals while floating, 2) initial findings of AWSIM research, 3) a brief overview of significant phenomena observed with reference to categorization thereof, 4) implications and possible applications, and 5) suggestions for further research.

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AUDITORY SIGNAL DETECTION IN VARIOUS LEVELS OF RESTRICTED ENVIRONMENTAL STIMULATION

David Eichorn
University of British Columbia

This study was designed to measure how various degrees of reduced stimulation (REST) influence the detection of a tone presented in noise. Six groups of subjects experienced three degrees of reduced stimulation in two different environments, a typical REST chamber and a flotation tank. The three degrees of reduced stimulation were silence, music, and recorded text. Light was also present in the conditions with auditory stimulation. The groups comprise a continuum of stimulation including a near-complete lack of stimulation (flotation REST), condition with visual and auditory stimulation encourages cognitive (central) stimulation (chamber with lights on and recorded text that must later be paraphrased). The detection task was presented to subjects once during the first ten minutes and again during the last ten minutes of a one hour and twenty minute period spent in one of the REST conditions. The results highlight the importance of considering the type of stimulation being reduced in all REST experiments and the value of using a well-established cognitive measure to track the effects of REST.

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A COMPARATIVE PHYSIOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOMETRIC ASSESSMENT OF REST FLOTATION, PROGRESSIVE RELAXATION, AND LIGHT-SOUND STIMULATION RELAXATION TRAINING

Ernesto A. Randolfi, Ph.D.

Subjects (n=63) were randomly assigned to three methods of relaxation training (restricted environmental stimulation technique (REST) flotation, progressive relaxation, and light-sound stimulation), or a control group to assess the effects of periodic exposure to relaxation. All subjects were scheduled for 45 minutes sessions three times a week for three weeks. Pre and post measurements included serum cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, blood pressure, and self reported measures of anxiety, depression, and physical stress symptoms. No significant differences (p<.05) were found on analysis of covariance for group means of post test scores when pretests were used as the covariate. Significant (p<.05) reductions in pre to post anxiety scores were found for three treatment groups using a paired t-test, but not the control group. Both the REST flotation group and the progressive relaxation group demonstrated significantly lower depression scores, and the flotation group reduced physical symptoms of stress. Subjects with pre-test cholesterol levels above 180 mm/dl were selected for additional analysis, those in the REST flotation group (n=10) significantly lowered total cholesterol (p=.042) and LDL (p=.034) levels by a mean of 18.5 mm/dl and 14.3 mm/dl respectively.

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THE BENEFITS OF FLOTATION REST RESTRICTED ENVIRONMENTAL STIMULATION (THERAPY) IN A PAIN MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

Roderick A. Borrie, Ph.D.
South Oaks Hospital, Amityville, NY

A pain management program that incorporates regular flotation REST is described with emphasis on the rationale for flotations use. Results from 57 patients receiving 354 flotation REST sessions as part of stress management and pain management programs will be presented in the form of PANAS scores, pain, tension and relaxation ratings from before and after each session. Case reports demonstrating the therapeutic use of flotation with a variety of physical problems will be presented with a discussion of specific benefits resulting from flotation. The problems of using flotation in a health care setting will also be discussed.

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EFFECTS OF RESTRICTED ENVIRONMENTAL STIMULATION THERAPY (REST) ON SEROLOGICAL MARKERS OF INFLAMMATION IN RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS.

Doré R. Shefransky, A. Betsy McCormick, Thomas H. Fine and John W. Turner, Jr. Medical College of Ohio
Toledo, Ohio

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory multisystem connective tissue disorder. Relaxation therapy is beneficial in a variety of rheumatoid diseases. This study explores the effect of REST on inflammation with previously diagnosed RA measured by erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP). Fourteen volunteers in RA participated in a controlled clinical trial; half underwent flotation REST with a taped message while controls underwent autogenic relaxation with the same message in a reclining chair. ESR and CRP were measured pre, post, and during treatment. The mean ESR decreased in the REST group and slightly increased in the autogenic control group. Neither change was significant (p>.05, t-test). CRP values changed little in either group across study. Individual REST subjects were consistent in exhibiting decreased ESR across the study, suggesting a potentially significant effect of REST, masked in this study by a small group size. The preliminary results encourage further investigation. Funded by Medical College of Ohio.

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TREATMENT OF PSYCHOSOMATIC ILLNESS THROUGH MENTAL TRAINING AND FLOATATION IN OXYGENATED MAGNESIUM SULFATE SATURATED BATHS

Dr. Schurbruck, M.D., Dr. Bergman, M.D. Juergen Tapprich

Problem: Treatment of psoriasis, a psychosomatic illness that presents in 2% of the general population.

Subject: 56 year old female presented in July, 1996 with chronic psoriasis (documented since 1987).

Method: Combined use of oxygenated, magnesium sulfate saturated isolation tank bath and psychological training such as meditation techniques, visualization, and self-image reconfiguration. Patient participated in ten weekly sessions during which she was given training in the above, floated for an hour, and underwent 5-10 minutes of ultraviolet light therapy.

Results: After three sessions, patient reported feeling significantly better. After 8 sessions, patient was free of visible manifestation of psoriasis. After 10 sessions, patient reported feelings of general well-being and absence of skin disturbance. She expressed interest in a six month follow-up session.

Discussion: The positive results offer hope for the psychosomatic patient. In the past, patients have had to travel to varied geographic locations (e.g. The Dead Sea) for salt-saturated bathing. The favorable combination of psychological training and physiological treatment has not to our knowledge been documented. We believe the effects of the use of chemical-free, salt-saturated oxygenated baths, auditory stimulation in sensory isolation, kinesthetic feedback (gravity reduced environment) and ultraviolet therapy have a synergistic effect offering relief from and control of this debilitating disease.

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LISTENING TO BINAURAL BEATS TO ENHANCE THE EFFECTS OF RESTRICTED ENVIRONMENTAL STIMULATION THERAPY

F. Holmes Atwater
Research Director, The Monroe Institute

Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) offers both physiological benefits and access to propitious states of consciousness. Listening to binaural beats in a REST-like environment gives rise to an EEG frequency-following response (FFR) which theoretically may enhance these effects or engender similar psychophysiological state changes. A critical point, however, is that a FFR to binaural beats in archetypal brain-wave frequencies has not been comprehensively demonstrated using apropos evoked-potential EEG protocols. A study was designed t determine if a 7 Hz (theta) binaural beat would engender a 7 Hz FFR and if a 16 Hz (beta) binaural beat would engender a 16 Hz FFR. This study used a REST-like environment and multiple-subject trials designed to objectively verify a FFR to theta and beta binaural-beat stimuli with an appropriate evoked-potential protocol. Significant increases in 7 Hz (p=<.001) and 16 Hz (p=.007) EEG amplitudes during binaural-beat stimuli periods provided evidence of a FFR to the binaural-beat stimuli. Binaural beats appear to influence consciousness by providing FFR information to the brainstem’s reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS regulates arousal states, attentional focus, and levels of awareness by stimulating the thalamus and cortex. The FFR information includes the character, quality and traits of consciousness represented by the wave pattern of the stimulus binaural beats.

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REST AS A CAPSULE EXPERIENCE: IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

G. Daniel Steele
Human and Leisure Sciences
Lincoln University
New Zealand

This paper examines the features of exotic, enclosed environments, using catalogues suggested by Sells (1973), Harrison and Connors (1984), and Suedfeld (1986). From the work of these and other researchers, three general dimensions relating to stationary capsule environments are derived: crew characteristics, physical space, and time factors. These dimensions are discussed in light of their applicability to REST environments, with special consideration being given to the REST experience as a significant marker event.

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EEG AND SUBJECTIVE CORRELATES OF ALPHA FREQUENCY BINAURAL BEATS STIMULATION COMBINED WITH ALPHA BIOFEEDBACK

Dale S. Foster, Ph.D.
Harding University, Graduate School of Religion

The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of alpha frequency binaural beats stimulation combined with alpha biofeedback on alpha frequency brain wave production and subjective experience of mental and physical relaxation. The study compared the alpha production and subjective report of four groups, each of which received brief relaxation response training and one of four treatments: 1) alpha frequency binaural beats stimulation, 2) visual alpha frequency brain wave biofeedback, 3) alpha frequency binaural beats stimulation combined with visual alpha biofeedback, or 4) artificially produced ocean surf sounds. Sixty volunteer undergraduate and graduate students were randomly assigned to the four groups and instructed to utilize their respective treatment as the “mental device” in Benson’s relaxation response paradigm while they relaxed with eyes open for twenty minutes.

Two 2 X 4 mixed ANOVAs revealed that all groups evidenced increased subjective report of relaxation and increased alpha production. An interaction effect was found in which the group with both alpha binaural beats and alpha biofeedback produced more treatment alpha than the group with alpha biofeedback alone. Additionally, nine of the fifteen subjects with both binaural beats and feedback reported being able to control alpha production via their focus on the alpha binaural beats. The data suggest the possibility that binaural beats can be used to enhance awareness of and control of specific cortical potentials. Implications for combining brainwave biofeedback, frequency-following-response techniques and Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) to promote the self-regulation and management of consciousness are discussed.

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THE EFFECTS OF FLOTATION REST ON MUSICAL CREATIVITY

Oshin A. Vartanian
University of British Columbia

This paper describes the experiment (Experiment 2) that was conducted following the one (Experiment 1) presented at the 1993 conference in Seattle. Experiment 1 found that after floating for 1 hr./week for 4 consecutive weeks, 14 post-secondary music majors were rated as showing significantly more improvement than a control group in concentration, but not in focus nor technical skill. The current experiment investigated the effects of an identical regimen of flotation REST on musical creativity in 24 post- secondary jazz improvisation students through changes in improvisation, creativity, expressiveness, technical skill and overall quality. There was no significant difference between the experimental and control group on any of the measures taken, but the experimental group did significantly better on final jazz improvisation grades. Explanations are provided as to why the effect detected in final jazz improvisation grades was absent in improvisation measured through performance, and the results are discussed in the context of the Budzynski hypothesis. There were the first studies to assess the skill-enhancing effects of flotation REST on the performance of advanced musicians.

 

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