hailthefloaters / FloatResearch
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Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 12 months ago

PSU R.E.S.T. Lab's Growing Bibliography


Pain Managment


Effects of Flotation-Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique on Stress-Related Muscle Pain: What Makes the Difference in Therapy - Attention-Placebo or the Relaxation Response; Bood, Sundequist, Kjellgren, Nordstrom, and Norlander; Pain Research and Management, Vol 10, No 4, Winter 2005

Thirty-two participants were recruited to participate in a pain-management study, 16 in an attention intensive setting, 16 in a routine flotation REST protocol. REST has been validated as an effective therapy for chronic pain, however the researchers sought to determine what role if any attention-placebo effect may play. There was no difference between the attention group and the control group. Changes in both groups were towards lowered blood pressure, and reduced subjective reports of pain, anxiety, depression, stress and negative affectivity, and increased subjective reports of optimism, energy, and positive affectivity.

Altered consciousness in flotation-rest and chamber-rest: Experience of experimental pain and subjective stress; Kjellgren, A., Sundequist, U., Sundholm, U., Norlander, T., Archer, T.; Social Behavior and Personality, 2004

The effects of altered consciousness on experimentally induced pain are discussed. Subjects undergoing flotation-rest experienced higher degrees of altered states of consciousness. The article relates experimental pain to chronic pain and the possible effects of flotation-rest on pain management. Of particular interested is a modified version of the APZ-questionnaire assessing levels of Altered States of Consciousness.

Effects of Flotation-REST on Muscle Tension Pain; Kjellgren, Sundequist, Norland, Archer; Pain Research and Management, Vol 6, No 4, Winter 2001

Thirty seven patients suffering from chronic neck and back pain where divided between a control group and a floating protocol of 9 45-minute floats in a three week period. Patients in the experimental group experienced a significant reduction of the most severe perceived pain - low perceived pain was unaffected. Additionally, the experimental group showed a significant reduction in circulating levels of MHPG, a major metabolic product of noradrenaline. Endorphin levels were unaffected in either group. Flotation-REST participants also reported elevated optimism, reduced anxiety or depression, and an ability to fall asleep more easily.

REST-Assisted Relaxation and Chronic Pain; Fine,T.H., Turner J.W.; Health and Clinical Psychology, 1985

A comparison of flotation-REST and biofeedback-assisted relaxation training in the treatment of chronic pain. 8 of 15 subjects experienced complete remission of pain while in flotation mediated relaxed condition, 1 reported remission during biofeedback-assisted relaxation and 2 reported remission of pain during both conditions. Patients responded that REST was significantly more relaxing than biofeedback.

Neo-dissociation accounts for pain relief and hypnotic susceptibility findings: Flotation REST elicits hypnosis; Barabasz, Arreed.; Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation (Barabasz, A. F. and Barabasz, M., eds.), 1993

Two studies were conducted to determine the ability of high and low hypnotizable subjects to enter hypnosis after flotation REST. Cold pressor pain was inflicted for subjects who floated, subjects who were induced with hypnosis by more standard means, and subjects in a control group. High and low hypnotizable subjects were spread throughout each group. Results suggest that flotation REST can aid in inducing hypnosis and reducing pain.


Stress Relief


Mindfulness-based stress and health benefits: A meta-analysis

Abstract: Objective: Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a structured group program that employs mindfulness meditation to alleviate suffering associated with physical, psychosomatic and psychiatric disorders. The program, nonreligious and nonesoteric, is based upon a systematic procedure to develop enhanced awareness of moment-to-moment experience of perceptible mental processes. The approach assumes that greater awareness will provide more veridical perception, reduce negative affect and improve vitality and coping. In the last two decades, a number of research reports appeared that seem to support many of these claims. We performed a comprehensive review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished studies of health-related studies related to MBSR. Methods: Sixty-four empirical studies were found, but only 20 reports met criteria of acceptable quality or relevance to be included in the meta-analysis. Reports were excluded due to (1) insufficient information about interventions, 2) poor quantitative health evaluation, (3) inadequate statistical analysis, (4) mindfulness not being the central component of intervention, or (5) the setting of intervention or sample composition deviating too widely from the health-related MBSR program. Acceptable studies covered a wide spectrum of clinical populations (e.g., pain, cancer, heart disease, depression, and anxiety), as well as stressed nonclinical groups. Both controlled and observational investigations were included. Standardized measures of physical and mental well-being constituted the dependent variables of the analysis. Results: Overall, both controlled and uncontrolled studies showed similar effect sizes of approximately 0.5 ( P < .0001) with homogeneity of distribution. Conclusion: Although derived from a relatively small number of studies, these results suggest that MBSR may help a broad range of individuals to cope with their clinical and nonclinical problems.

Flotation restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST) as a stress-management tool: A meta-analysis; Dierendonck, Dirk van; Nijenhuis, Jan Te; Psychology and Health, Vol 20, Number 3, June 2005

Abstract: In this study we investigated the value of flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) as a stress-management tool. We focused on the physiological effects of REST, its influence on well-being, and on performance. Twenty-seven studies published in 25 articles or book chapters were included in a meta-analysis. The total number of participants was 449, with a mean age of 29 years (ranging between 20 and 45). Sixty-four percent was male and 36% was female. The results showed that REST has positive effects on physiology (e.g., lower levels of cortisol, lower blood pressure), well-being, and performance. The pre–post mean effect size and the overall randomized control group effect size were relatively strong. This suggests that despite some limitations of the original studies, flotation REST can be a useful stress management tool in addition to or instead of other stress management tools.

Hormonal Changes associated with Restricted Environmentally Stimuli Therapy (REST); Fine, T. H. and Turner, J. W.; Medical College of Ohio

Cortisol (plasma and urinary) and ACTH levels significantly decreased in participants undergoing REST.  A separate trial that utilized Naloxone (opioid inhibitor) suggests that the mild euphoria commonly experienced during REST is a result of endogenous opioids. These two findings correlate with decreased activity of the pituitary-adrenal axis.

The Presence or Absence of Light in the REST Experience: Effects on Plasma Cortisol, Blood Pressure, and Mood; Ewy, Sershon, and Freundlich; ''Selected Papers from the Third International Conference on R.E.S.T. and Self-Regulation

Subjects were divided into two REST groups: one was exposed to light during the experience, the other was not. Eight sessions showed similar reductions in plasma cortisol and blood pressure between groups, which suggests that the presence of light did not compromise the benefits of flotation.

Effects of flotation therapy on relaxation and mental state; Hu Pei-cheng, Su Ying.; Chinese Medical Journal, 2004, Vol 117, No 10. 1579-1581

Discussion of the effects of flotation therapy on psychological and physiological components of healthy, Chinese college students. Some results include lowered heart rate, lower EMG, reduced stress and reduced depression after floating.

Psychological Effects


The "Sensed Presence" in Unusual Environments; Mocellin, J and Suedfeld, P.; Environment and Behavior, Vol. 19, No. 1, January 1987, 33-52.

Sensations of a "presence" experienced by those in solitary and/or traumatic situations have been documented throughout history.  The monotonous setting during a REST session is similar to key elements of a solitary/traumatic experience, and can produce some of the same effects.  It is hypothesized that a REST participant becomes hypervigilant to endogenous signals -- this heightened awareness, combined with subconcious elaboration, produces the external sense of a "presence".

Autobiographical memory and affect under conditions of reduced environmental stimulation. Suedfeld, P. and Eich, E. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 1995, 15. 321-326.

Two studies were conducted to study the effects of REST on mood and autobiographical memory. REST produced a significant decrease in stress and anxiety (self-reported) and coincided with more pleasant autobiographical memories.

Specific Odors and Flotation; Jessen, Walter E.; Selected Papers from the Third International Conference on R.E.S.T. and Self-Regulation

Subjects floated while wearing an odor delivery system that pumped a specific, pleasant essence into a nasal cannula. Memories were perceived as though the subjects were re-living them, some of which had been long forgotten since childhood. Spontaneous hypothalmic changes in body function were also reported, including hunger pangs, pre-labor contractions, and changes in body heat.

Six Months in the Tank: The Long Term Effects of Flotation Isolation on State Anxiety, Hostility, and Depression; Pudvah, Michael B. and Rzewnicki, Randy; Selected Papers from the Third International Conference on R.E.S.T. and Self-Regulation

Subjects’ level of anxiety, hostility, and depression were measured before and after a weekly 150 minute float. Results indicate a general reduction in all states measured immediately after each flotation experience. After six months of study, the effects were not found to be cumulative and failed to carry over to the next week.

Effects of Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) on Self-Control of Heart Rate; Fine, T.H. and Turner, J.W.; Health and Clinical Psychology, 1985

A comparison of heart rate control in REST and NON-REST conditions, with emphasis on emotional states. The ability of individuals to control their heart rate was greater in REST than in NON-REST. Subjects with a repressive coping style - determined by questionaires - exhibited less repression in REST conditions.

Flotation REST in Applied Psychophysiology; Fine, T.H., & Borrie, R.; Biofeedback, Spring 1998.

An overview of psychophysiological effects(lowered cortisol levels, lowered blood pressure)and clinical applications of Flotation REST as related to chronic pain management, performance enhancement, chronic illness and depression.

The Standardized Psychometric Assessment of Altered States of Consciousness (ASCs) in Humans; Dittrich A.; Pharmacopsychiat, 31, 1998

A presentation of validation studies done on the APZ questionnaire of Altered States of Consciousness, a potential measure of subjective experience while floating.

Impact of Regular Meditation Practice on EEG Activity at Rest and During Evoked Negative Emotions; Aftanas, Ljubomir and Golosheykin, Semen; International Journal of Neuroscience, 115:893-909, 2005


Neuroimaging and genetic associations of attentional and hypnotic processes; Raz, A., Fan, J., Posner, M.; Journal of Physiology-Paris, 99, June 2006.

Abstract: In the aftermath of the human genome project, genotyping is fast becoming an affordable and technologically viable complement to phenotyping. Whereas attempts to characterize hypnotic responsiveness have been largely phenomenological, data emanating from exploratory genetic data may offer supplementary insights into the genetic bases of hypnotizability. We outline our genetic and neuroimaging findings and discuss potential implications to top–down control systems. These results may explain individual differences in hypnotizability and propose new ideas for studying the influence of suggestion on neural systems. - Of particular interest is the COMT polymorphism as a potential correlate of hypnotizablity and perhaps access to other altered states of consciousness

Effects of Flotation REST on Creative Problem Solving and Originality; Norlander, T., Bergman, H., and Archer, T.; Journal of Environmental Psychology, 1998.

Abstract: The purpose of the present study was to explore whether or not flotation restricted environmental stimulation technique (REST) facilitates the creative problem-solving ability and originality. Sample 1 consisted of 40 subjects, 20 men and 20 women, randomly assigned in equal numbers to either a nonREST group (armchair-sitting) or to a floating REST group. Both groups worked on a `chain puzzle' for 5 min and were then interrupted with 45 min of sitting or floating. The subjects were then given the task of continuing with the creative problem-solving test. Sample 2 consisted of 54 subjects, 27 men and 27 women, randomly assigned in equal numbers to either a nonREST group (armchair-sitting), a dryREST group (lying on a couch in a dark room) or a flotation REST group. The groups then had to fill in a couple of paper-and-pen tests and were given scores on fluency, obvious answers, original answers, elegance and deductive thinking. The results (impaired creative problem-solving ability and higher originality for the floating group) were interpreted as an indication of cognitive function where the primary process still dominates over the secondary process.



Short-Term Exposure to REST: Enhanced Performance on a Signal-Detection Task; Atkinson, Richard; p. 93-100 (from Selected Papers from Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation – needs description)

This study compares the Signal Detection Task performance of subjects who have participated in one of three sessions: REST, relaxation, or alertness. The results indicate that short-term (one hour) REST sessions enhance visual perception and the ability to focus and maintain attention.

Primary Process in Competitive Archery Performance: Effects of Flotation REST; Norlander, T. and Bergman, H.; Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 1999.

Subjects were exposed to either a flotation tank or an "armchair condition" for 45 minutes prior to being rated on archery performance.  Experienced archers who were in the REST group ranked higher than subjects with similar abilities who were in the armchair group.  The REST group showed a general decrease in muscle tension and felt less exerted while performing.





Flotation REST and smoking cessation: a preliminary report; Fine, Bruno, Nestor.; Health and Clinical Psychology, 1985

A brief article comparing Floatation REST to Chamber REST effects on smoking cessation. Subjects participated in extended floatation sessions in combination with anti-smoking and pro non-smoking messages. Results suggest that 2 and 4 hour flotation sessions lack the positive outcome of 24 hour Chamber REST on smoking cessation, but increased flotation duration and frequency of sessions should be explored.

The effects of consecutive floats and their timing on premenstrual syndrome; Jessen, Walter.; Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation (Barabasz, A. F. and Barabasz, M., eds.), 1993

Female volunteers in three groups reported on the frequency and severity of PMS symptoms. One group floated on the day of ovulation, one group floated mid-PMS (the time between ovulation and menstruation), and the control group did not float. The females who floated reported significantly less frequent and less severe PMS symptoms than before floating. The control group did not report symptom relief. The effects event lasted months after the final float. Flotation Rest is suggested to ease the body and alter hormones in a positive way.

ElectroEncephela - An annotated bibliography towards a R.E.S.T-EEG grant proposal.


Essential Sources in the Scientific Study of Consciousness 1206 pages - an operating manual on your brain. (Penn State access only)




The John Lilly Home Page Inventor of the tank, pioneering neuroscientist


Witkin Embedded Figure Test- an intriguing perceptual test with suggestive correlations to psychonautical research


Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences 

having substantial and sustained personal 

meaning and spiritual significance 2006 Johns Hopkins University Study. The "filters" in here are exhaustive, and could be an excellent way for us to define intensive experiencers in the tank.


Effects of psilocybin on time perception and temporal control of behaviour in humans; Wittmann, Carter, Hasler, Cahn, Grimberg, Spring, Hell, Flohr, Vollenweider. Journal of Psychopharmocology, 2007''

-Includes data linking psilocybin to altered perception of time for intervals longer than 2 seconds, at which point time tends to be underestimated. The article also shows trends of psilocybin dosage vs. subjective mood scoring (5D-ASC), such as depersonalization experiences.


1989 New York Times article about tanks


RecentPubMed search for REST


UrthBound found this \"NewScientist\" blog about virtual reality increasing the tendency of participants towards creating 'false memories'. The critical comments on the bottom of the blog are especially illuminating (and funny). The issue with floatation may in fact be quite opposite to virtual reality issues (except when the audio and video feeds are in place). Nevertheless, comment upon this we shall.


Oh, and the neural control of computers (mind-machine interfaces) will make entry & immersion into future floatation tanks quite interesting, esp. with regard to VRSS (virtual reality simple syndication) updates of immersive floatcast episodes. See DolphinSwimming.


On second(?) thought, I think my VRSS feed will be of these European Space Agency real-time images of the Earth, using MIRAVI. - UrthBound


Wikipedia entry for Isolation tank


Disinformation.com's info on floatation -This page contains a rather good set of links to other sites.


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