A role of bilateral stimulation in EMDR: A difference in cerebral blood flow during recall positive memory with or without bilateral tapping

Tamaki Amano

Sunday 19 june 2016

12:15 - 12:45h at Kilimanjaro

Categories: Neurobiology, Research

Parallel session: Research track: Addiction, Depression and Neurobiology

EMDR is a standard method for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and consists of main two strategies which the first is desensitization and the second is the resource development and installation (RDI). The latter also has a protocol in which a positive introduction is provided with alternating bilateral stimulation (BLS). However a neural mechanisms and a role of BLS in RDI remains unknown. It is important to measure changes in blood flow during recall pleasant memory with BLS to clarify the neurobiological mechanisms of RDI. [Methods] 
RDI was conducted on fifteen healthy volunteers who accessed a pleasant resource memory. Their oxygenated hemoglobin concentration ([oxy-Hb]), a sensitive index of brain activity, was measured from the prefrontal cortex (PFC) to the temporal cortex using multi-channel near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) during recall pleasant memory with BLS (or without BLS).


The psychological evaluation suggested that RDI was successful. Comparing the results between with and without BLS, the former got to be more “increased accessibility” and “become to be relaxed” after RDI than the latter, and a significant increase in [oxy-Hb] in the right STS and a decrease in the bilateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) were observed by BLS.


The significant activation by BLS in the right STS, which is known to be closely related to memory representation, suggests that BLS is possible to draw more representational pleasant memory from individuals. And the significant reduction in the bilateral ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC), which is related to emotion and regulation, suggests that BLS is possible to get more relaxed and comfortable feeling, and need not regulate the emotion. These results are one of the important neural mechanisms of RDI. The uninvolvement of DLPFC in the role of BLS may suggest it is emotional processing rather than higher cognitive processing that occurs in this stage. Considering the neuroscientific evidence, there is a possibility that BLS in RDI may increase the level of comfort and people can feel their pleasant memories more deeply. Therefore it might be necessary to use BLS in RDI.

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  • Location(s)
  • plattegrond Kilimanjaro