Dr. Rajal G. Cohen "Science Catches Up! Alexander Technique Principles and 21st Century Research" Plenary Session delivered Friday, August 3, 2018 @ 11:00AM
11th International Alexander Technique Congress --
"Advancing Global Perspectives: Making New Connections with Science, Performance, and Education."
Chicago IL -- Loyola University, Lake Shore Campus, Mundelein Hall
SCIENCE PLENARY SUBJECT
If the principles of the Alexander technique are true, then they must exist beyond the Alexander Technique. Furthermore, they should be objectively testable.Recent scientific advances in neuroscience, psychology, kinesiology, and other fields related to motor control provide intriguing insights into the working of the Alexander Technique. A few key areas of ongoing research are inhibitory control, body schema, postural tone and its effects on movement, degrees of freedom, motor imagery, and the inter-relatedness of cognitive and motor problems in Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Rajal Cohen has devoted the last 15 years to research related to the principles underlying Alexander Technique and to figuring out how to articulate the principles in such a way that they can either be explained by existing evidence or subjected to empirical testing. Dr. Cohen will present relevant data from her own published and in-progress research with reference to other important published research findings that help us understand HOW Alexander Technique works. She will discuss obstacles she has encountered along the way (such as the widespread assumption in the scientific world that all people without neurological damage are moving optimally), as well as encouraging signs of progress.
Rajal Cohen, M.AmSAT, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at the University of Idaho, where she teaches, conducts research, and supervises masters and doctoral students in psychology, human factors/ergonomics, and neuroscience. She has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and chapters exploring the interconnections among cognition, postural organization, and movement and has received several regional grants for her work.
Dr. Cohen’s Mind in Movement Laboratory uses tools and concepts from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and kinesiology to inform and inspire questions about postural organization and voluntary movement – in healthy young adults as well as in the context of Parkinson’s disease, aging, and musculoskeletal pain. Recently she and her students have looked at changes in head orientation associated with anticipating a compelling task, at the effects of very short verbal instructions on balance and movement (the “Lighten Up” project), and at how postural tone changes along with neck pain following training in embodied mindfulness. She is also involved in neuroimaging studies investigating the connections between brain areas associated with cognition and those associated with postural tone and movement. Dr. Cohen is active as a peer reviewer for grants, dissertations, and manuscripts in the fields of motor control and motor disorders, and she serves as Scientific Consultant for The Poise Project®.
Dr. Cohen completed her Alexander technique training in 1997 at the Virginia School for Alexander Technique. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology with a minor in Kinesiology from Penn State in 2008. She then completed a four-year postdoctoral fellowship on cognitive and motor aspects of Parkinson’s disease at Oregon Health & Science University.