Well, the data is finally in from the long-awaited MANTRA prayer study at Duke University’s Clinical Research Institute.
Cardiologist and principal investigator Mitch Krucoff reported
disappointing results from his randomized, controlled, multi-centered
pilot study that compared intercessory prayer with a combination of
music, imagery and touch (MIT) therapies, and standard care. The
earlier study that inspired this one had suggested that prayer created
more positive outcomes in heart surgery patients; and certainly Henry
Bennett’s study with imagery and Elvira Lang’s with hypnosis showed
significant results on surgical outcomes. But this study showed no
differences between prayer, MIT and standard care.
The study randomly assigned 748 patients undergoing
percutaneous coronary intervention or elective catheterization in nine
centers around the U.S. to receive off-site prayer by established
congregations of various religions or no off-site prayer
(double-blinded) and MIT therapy (the imagery was Diane Tusek’s) or
Researchers from the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at The University of Virginia
report on the first MRI study to report differences in brain structure
size between low and highly hypnotizable, healthy, right-handed young
Participants were stringently screened for hypnotic susceptibility with
two standardized scales, and then exposed to hypnotic analgesia
training to control cold pressor pain. Only the highly hypnotizable
subjects (HHs) who eliminated pain perception were included in the
present study. These HHs, who demonstrated more effective attentional
and inhibitory capabilities, had a significantly (P < 0.003) larger
(31.8%) rostrum, a corpus callosum area involved in the allocation of
attention and transfer of information between prefrontal cortices, than
low hypnotizable subjects (LHs).
Researchers from the State Research Institute of Physiology at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences
in Novosibirsk, Russia, mounted a controlled, randomized clinical trial
to examine how long-term meditation practice can effect EEG activity
during non-emotional arousal (eyes-closed and eyes-open periods,
viewing emotionally neutral movie clip) and while experiencing
experimentally induced negative emotions (viewing an aversive movie
The 62-channel EEG was recorded in age-matched controls (n=25) and for
Sahaja Yoga meditators (SYM, n=25). Findings from the non-emotional
continuum show that, at the lowest level of arousal (eyes closed), SYM
manifested larger power values in theta-1 (4-6 Hz), theta-2 (6-8 Hz)
and alpha-1 (8-10 Hz) frequency bands. Although increasing arousal
desynchronized activity in these bands in both groups, the theta-2 and
alpha-1 power in the eyes-open period and alpha-1 power while viewing
the neutral clip remained still higher in the SYM. During eyes-closed
and eyes-open periods the controls were marked by larger right than
left hemisphere power, indexing a relatively more active left
hemisphere parieto-temporal cortex, whereas the meditators showed
asymmetry between hemispheres.
Investigators from the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at The University of Pennsylvania
conducted a randomized, controlled clinical trial to see if female
survivors of sexual and nonsexual assault the addition of a technique
called cognitive restructuring to prolonged exposure therapy would
augment the positive cognitive changes produced by treatment.
Fifty-four subjects completed either prolonged exposure alone or in
combination with cognitive restructuring in a course of treatment that
included 9-12 weekly sessions. Assessment was conducted at
pretreatment, posttreatment, and a modal 12-month follow-up.
Researchers at the Occupational Health & Safety Unit at Royal Free Hospital
in London conducted a randomized, controlled, clinical trial to
evaluate the effect of an 8 week computerized cognitive behavioural
therapy programme, ''Beating The Blues'', on emotional distress in
employees with recent stress-related absenteeism, and to explore the
reasons for non-participation.
Forty-eight public sector employees, with 10 or more
cumulative days of stress-related absenteeism in the previous 6 months,
were randomized equally to ''Beating The Blues'' plus conventional
care, or conventional care alone. The main outcomes, measured at the
end of treatment and at one, three and six months post-treatment, were
scores from the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the
Attributional Style Questionnaire.
Investigators at Jaume I University reported their findings on
the effectiveness of the "Talk to Me" interactive program on treating
fear of public speaking. This internet-based, self-applied intervention
has several components, including a diagnostic assessment, a structured
treatment, and an outcome protocol that evaluates treatment efficacy in
a continuous manner. One case study revealed a significant decrease in
levels of fear and avoidance related to speaking in public. However, a
pilot study is needed to confirm this promising but inconclusive case
Citation: Botella C, Hofmann SG, Moscovitch DA.A self-applied,
Internet-based intervention for fear of public speaking. Journal of
Clinical Psychology. 2004 Aug; 60 (8): pages 821-30.
A clinical trial from researchers at the Department of Psychiatry and Neurosciences of Maimonides University
in Buenos Aires, Argentina, evaluated the effectiveness of cognitive
therapy (CT) in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), as
reflected through both psychological and psychoneuroendocrinological
Outpatients with GAD were treated with CT for up to a maximum of 24
sessions. Anxiety-related symptoms were evaluated according to the
Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A), and the
hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) function was determined through
assessment of circulating cortisol levels.
An MRI study out of Japan reveals more inner workings of the brain during imagery, and connections between alexithymia (inablity to translate emotions into words) and imagining past and future events.
Researchers from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Hiroshima University in Japan used MRI’s to investigate differences in brain function between people with high degrees of alexithymia (an inability to put emotions into words, commonly found in people with PTSD) and those with low degrees.
A pilot study from the Purdue University School of Nursing finds that guided imagery plus progressive muscle relaxation helps with mobility and perception of pain in 28 older women when compared to a control group.
Researchers at Purdue University School of Nursing conducted a randomized, controlled, longitudinal, clinical trial pilot study to determine whether Guided Imagery (GI) with Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) would reduce pain and mobility difficulties of women with osteoarthritis. Twenty-eight older women with OA were randomly assigned to either the treatment or the control group. The treatment consisted of listening twice a day to a 10-to-15-minute audiotaped script that guided the women in GI with PMR.
A pilot study out of France shows that virtual reality therapy works well for social phobias, but no better than standard, cognitive behavioral therapy.
This unique preliminary study out of Caen, France assesses the efficacy of virtual reality therapy (VRT) for alleviating social phobia, since it has been found helpful for fear of public speaking. Virtual reality therapy was compared to a control condition - group cognitive behavioral therapy - where graded exposure to feared social situations is one of the fundamental therapeutic ingredients.
A Korean study with 30 breast cancer patients demonstrated that guided imagery and progressive relaxation administered together before each of 6 cycles of chemotherapy, reduces anticipatory nausea and vomiting, improves quality of life.
Researchers at the Department of Psychiatry, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea studied the effectiveness of progressive muscle relaxation training (PMRT) and guided imagery (GI) in reducing the anticipatory nausea and vomiting (ANV) and postchemotherapy nausea and vomiting (PNV) and in increasing quality of life for patients with breast cancer.