Neurophysiological components of EMDR treatment


The research on Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has had a significant development in the last 10 years. The EMDR consists on a dual focalization activity (the use o eye movements or other forms of left/right rhythmical stimulation, while focusing on personal disturbing material). Many hypotheses have been made on how EMDR works and why the clinical results are so significant. One of the most possible reasons may regard the fact that there seems to be an innate information processing system that is physiologically configured to facilitate mental health in much the same way the rest of the body is designed to heal itself when injured (Shapiro, 1995). When operating appropriately, this system takes the perceptual and emotional information from a traumatic event to an adaptive resolution - useful information is stored with appropriate affect and is available for future use. The physiological and emotional arousal stemming from a traumatic event may disrupt the information processing mechanism. The blocked processing prevents the traumatic information from progressing through the normal steps of adaptive integration. The physiological stimulation appears to activate the innate information processing systems and may be linked to the mechanisms inherent in memory storage. EMDR apparently intervenes in brain functions, especially in the limbic system and amygdale, which have been already identified as actively involved in traumatic experiences.






Isabel Fernandez
Roger M. Solomon

Original Work Citation

Fernandez, I., & Solomon, R. M. (2001, October). Neurophysiological components of EMDR treatment. In International CIANS Conference (CIANS: Collegium Internationale Activitatis Nervosae Superioris; International Association for Integrative Nervous Functions, Neurobiology of behaviour and Psychosomatics), (pp 137-140) Palermo, Italy



“Neurophysiological components of EMDR treatment,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed November 24, 2020,

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