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Research Presentation At the Performing Arts Medicine Association Conference

Viceroy Hotel
Snowmass, Colorado
July 26, 2012
Presentations at 10:30 am and 2:00 pm.

Dr. Patrick Gannon will be presenting his research on performance anxiety and peak performance to the annual PAMA membership conference held in concert with the Aspen Music Festival. The title of his presentation is:

BrainScripting: Transforming Performance Anxiety Into Peak Performance and Flow

This poster session will introduce a new peak performance program based on a revised understanding of performance anxiety  and integrates recent neuroscience findings that support the concept of applied neuroplasticity. Utilizing the brain’s evolutionary capacity  to grow itself in the direction in which it is being used, the BrainScripting program first clears past performance traumas using an advanced  clinical technique called EMDR and then, using other brain based techniques, installs and reinforces performance scripts that can mimic  elements of the flow state. The findings of a pilot study demonstrating the effectiveness of this program will be presented.

Six performers  (singer, musician, public speakers, job applicants) undertook a 5 session intervention program that utilized Mindfulness Meditation,  Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Cardio Imagery & Rehearsal (CIR). Meditation is employed as a foundation  skill to help regulate emotional arousal, enhance concentration and focus and reduce distractability. CIR combines moderate exercise  concurrent with self-selected mental imagery or scripts. Exercise combined with imagery activates mirror neurons in the brain that encodes information by stimulating the creation of  new neural pathways fueled by BDNF, a growth protein that is released during exercise. EMDR is  a clinical treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and as such, one of the most effective treatments for anxiety and traumatic  fear. EMDR activates the brain’s information processing capability by triggering the REM state while the subject is fully awake. By  desensitizing underlying traumatic reactions, performers were less likely to get triggered in the performance situations. EMDR is also used to  install the preferred performance behaviors or scripts as goals to be worked toward. Performers then rehearse these  scripts on a daily basis  leading up to the performance using CIR.

The results of the pilot study found that performers showed varying levels of improvement on seven  indices of peak performance including reduced performance anxiety, high concentration, engagement in the task, ability to execute performance  goals and low self-consciousmess. This treatment approach reflects a more clinical and “bottoms up” approach to treating performance anxiety  in contrast to the more “top down” strategy underlying standard cognitive behavioral techniques in sport psychology.

Presented by Patrick Gannon, PhD

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