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The Tactile Stimulation of Gongs

John St. Claire

Mar 9, 2023

A literary review

Physioacoustic stimulation is a modality using speakers in a modified lounge chair to  play low frequency vibrations (120 Hz or less) into a persons body at very close proximity  (Karkkainen, 2006). The sound is controlled by a computer which moves the sound to various  parts of the body. Physioacoustic stimulation uses sounds but is unrelated to hearing, it benefits  the hearing impaired in the same way as it does people who can hear (Karkkainen, 2006). The  three types of receptor cells which respond to vibration are Merkel cells, Meissners corpuscles  and Pancinian corpuscles and each will habituate to stimuli at a different rate (Zimmerman,  2014). Physioacoustic therapy uses sound to create a tactile sensation which moves to different  places in the body so as not to tire the receptor cells (Karkkainen, 2006).  

There have been numerous studies done using Physioacoustic stimulation which  demonstrated successful treatments for various types of physical and mental conditions including  sleep (van Os, 2012), Parkinson’s disease (Mosabbir, 2020), creativity (Norlander, 1998), pain  management (Boyd-Brewer, 2004), post operative healing (Taylor, 2003), gambling addiction  (Jaakko, 2003), and many others (Boyd-Brewer, 2003). The general conclusion is that people  relax into a therapeutic state, stress which was held in the tissues dissipates and; ”They enter into  an optimal state for emotional learning because they feel totally safe. It is a state where persons  can empty their head of all thoughts” (Karkkainen 2006).

According to one researcher this phenomena suggests physioacoustic stimulations may  have an effect on GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid), the most common message-altering  neurotransmitter in the brain (Karkkainen 2006). If threatening information is perceived,  glutamate will quickly get this information to the amygdalae. If the information is non threatening, the GABA system blocks this transport pathway. 

The Nanasawa Institute in Japan holds patents for an acoustic bed used for  physioacoustic stimulation. Although I was unable to access the published Japanese research, the  claims made on the company website based on this research are noteworthy. 

Research found that patients recalled subconscious memories of when they  were in their mother’s womb while using the bed. The first sound humans hear  and feel is vibrations in the womb. The rhythmical heartbeat of a healthy and  relaxed mother gives her fetus and baby a sense of security. This means the  most profound memory of sound vibration in the human experience is in the  primordial confines of a mother’s womb.  

As we grow, we lose our conscious memories of the womb; however, we don’t  forget on a subconscious level. The research found that we feel a sense of  security and relaxation when experiencing a similar condition to our fetal state. 

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