This site is devoted to improving scientific understanding of the Alexander Technique (AT)—its principles, practices, reported and demonstrated benefits, and terminology. The content ranges from descriptions of direct experiments on the effects of AT lessons to focused explanations of relevant current science to rigorously researched history of the work. We reference recent peer-reviewed publications wherever possible.
We see this site as serving three primary audiences: Alexander Technique teachers and students who would like to better understand the work from a scientific perspective; scientists, medical professionals and other somatic or rehabilitation practitioners who are interested in the research basis for AT; and anyone who would like to explore scientific research on mind, movement, and posture. Read more.
Pain Science Webinar: November 2023
Tim Cacciatore and Mari Hodges offer a 6-week online webinar on the Science of Pain for AT Teachers starting November 6th, 2023. Join us!
By Mari Hodges and Tim Cacciatore
Studies show that the Alexander Technique (AT) helps with various kinds of pain,1-5 and many people come to the AT to resolve a pain condition. Two major clinical trials have shown reductions in long term back and neck pain after a course of lessons, and one smaller trial has shown reductions in knee pain. These positive results occur even though the AT does not typically target pain directly.
But how and why does the AT reduce pain? This article aims to explore these questions. Pain is complex, and modern pain science has begun to shed light on various mechanisms behind pain and its alleviation. Recent advances in pain science may help us to understand ways that AT can help to reduce pain.
Over the past few decades, there has been a substantial shift in the field of pain science that …
Read more here.
Short Video: How Does the Alexander Technique Work? Towards a Scientific Model
This video was commissioned by the FM Alexander Trust from Sci Ani (Science Animated) to explain the scientific paper by Cacciatore, Johnson, and Cohen. The animation illustrates the paper’s central proposition, that changes to postural tone and body schema underlie many of the reported benefits of the Alexander Technique. It…
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By Tim Cacciatore, Patrick Johnson, and Rajal Cohen
The Alexander Technique (AT) has been practiced for over 125 years. Despite evidence of its clinical utility, a clear explanation of how AT works is lacking, as the foundational science needed to test the underlying ideas has only recently become available. The authors propose that the core changes brought about by Alexander training are improvements in the adaptivity and distribution of postural tone, along with changes in body schema, and that these changes underlie many of the reported benefits. They suggest that AT alters tone and body schema via spatial attention and executive processes, which in turn affect low-level motor elements. To engage these pathways, AT strategically engages attention, intention, and inhibition, along with haptic communication. The uniqueness of the approach comes from the way these elements are woven together. Evidence for the contribution of these elements is discussed, drawing on direct studies of AT and other relevant modern scientific literature…
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By Andrew McCann
Building theoretical models is one of the most important parts of doing science. In popular usage, theory is often equated with speculation (“just a theory”), but theoretical models are data-driven and research-based. While individual studies report findings from a particular experiment or set of experiments, a model seeks to build a coherent explanation for findings from many studies. Models can also be used to make predictions and create a program for future research. Although scientific models often have speculative elements, that speculation is informed by existing research. Ideally, any speculation is framed in such a way that it can be tested down the road.
For much of AT history, scientists either did not or were unable (often for technological reasons) to study phenomena at the heart of AT, such as interrelationships between subtle mental and physical states…
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Patrick Johnson, Tim Cacciatore, Rajal Cohen, and Ian Loram
This symposium addresses a need for specific, up-to-date, science-based models to help AT practitioners to better understand what we are learning and teaching physiologically, better communicate with scientists, medical professionals, and AT colleagues, and broaden the base of respect and understanding for our profession.
This symposium was presented as a live webinar on May 18, 2020 and featured four speakers:
- Dr. Patrick Johnson (PhD Physics, STAT/NeVLAT certified teacher of AT)
- Dr. Tim Cacciatore (PhD Neuroscience, STAT certified teacher of AT)
- Assoc. Prof. Rajal Cohen (PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology University of Idaho, AmSAT certified teacher of AT)
- Prof. Ian Loram (PhD, Professor of Neuromuscular Control of Human Movement, Manchester Metropolitan University, PAAT certified teacher of AT)
By Jean M.O. Fischer
This guest post by Jean M.O. Fischer, publisher of Mouritz Press, delves into the influence of Rudolf Magnus’ research on postural reflexes on F.M. Alexander’s concept of the primary control. It was first published in the AmSAT Journal, Vol 15, 2019.
The story of Magnus and his concept of a central control in the Alexander Technique community is a story of misunderstandings, mistranslations, and the misapplication of science. While several other ideas, concepts, and theories in Alexander’s writings are forgotten today, Magnus’s work is still discussed. Why? What is clear is that Magnus’s work was seized upon by Alexander and many of his supporters as scientiﬁc proof, or at least corroboration, from the mid-1920s until the South African libel case in the late 1940s. What is less clear is the continued reference to Magnus in the Alexander Technique literature. This article covers some history of the Alexander Technique literature on Magnus through the decades… Read more.