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    Dr. Garret Yount appointed as liaison with the Institute of Noetic Sciences

    June 16, 2014

    For Garret Yount, Ph.D., a new appointment as liaison with the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) is a natural fit to complement his biomedical research interests at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute (CPMCRI).

    “Our mind-body medicine research group has a long and influential history studying the effects of complementary approaches to health and healing,” says Dr. Yount, Scientist at CPMCRI and Director of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Group, whose numerous publications address methodological issues in biofield research. He will develop new programs and collaborations between CPMCRI and IONS in mind-body research.

    IONS is a think-tank for “intuitive mind” research in Northern California, whose investigators focus on exploring the fundamental nature of consciousness, investigating how it interacts with the physical world, and studying how consciousness can dramatically transform and improve health.
    Dr. Yount has already established a foundation of mind-body research at CPMCRI and was one of the first investigators in the institute’s history to explore physiologic and genomic changes associated with stress reduction and positive emotions, and the impact on disease outcomes.

    His new role at IONS will accelerate CPMCRI’s research into biofield sciences and biofield therapies, which are developed to affect energy fields that purportedly surround and penetrate the living body. These therapies (such as qigong, Emotional Freedom Techniques, and therapeutic devices based on infrasound) are complementary medicine modalities, and some studies have shown evidence supporting their ability to reduce inflammation and decrease anxiety, and to treat complex illnesses such as cancer.

    “The misconception that mind-body medicine is fundamentally less efficacious and powerful than current Western medical interventions such as pharmaceutical drugs remains the prevalent paradigm, but new studies continue to challenge that,” says Dr. Yount. “We are applying careful scientific methods to better understand how to engage the body’s energetic systems to enhance both physical and emotional wellness.”

    In addition to the biofield research, one of Dr. Yount’s first initiatives with IONS will take him to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada for this summer’s annual Burning Man festival. Burning Man is a week-long event unique in its concentrated intensity, isolation, and collective intention, culminating with the burning of a large man-shaped effigy at the center of an ancient lakebed. Dr. Yount and other IONS investigators will conduct an experiment at the festival looking at collective consciousness.

    “It is an opportunity to do some science around the experience that many people relate to—when the collective enthusiasm of a large event rises to such a peak that you can almost feel a crackle in the air,” says Dr. Yount. “The underlying hypothesis is that mind and matter are complementary aspects of a fundamentally interconnected system of reality.”

    The team will take advantage of the event where the attention of 65,000 minds is moved into tight alignment as a highly anticipated event approaches – the burning of the “man”. They will test to see if the rise in mental coherence will be correlated with an increase in physical coherence, as measured by the outputs of truly random number generators (electronic devices designed to generate maximum entropy, or randomness). “Ultimately, we hope the research will determine if mental coherence can be leveraged for individuals to impact their own health and healing, including in people with chronic illnesses and cancer.”

    In other areas of investigation, and through collaboration with the Institute for Health and Healing (IHH) at CPMC, Dr. Yount is studying physiologic changes associated with stress reduction and positive emotions, and how these changes are affected by novel interventions including music and Expressive Arts Therapy. Results of a pilot study of the effects of a novel Expressive Arts Therapy created at CPMC for hospitalized children, termed Healing Sock Creatures©, showed reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This study was published last year in the journal Pediatric Reports.