Positron emission tomography, an advanced imaging technology, has recorded the effects of imagery. When individuals imagine, the same parts of the cerebral cortex are activated as when the situation is actually experienced; imaginary seeing, hearing, or feeling stimulates the same optic, auditory, and sensory cortexes. Consequently, messages are sent from the cerebral cortex to the limbic system of the brain that influence the endocrine and autonomic nervous system.
Imagery has helped reduce stress, lower heart rate, stimulate the production of immune cells, and in a study of elderly patients increase killer T-cells. The practice can reduce pain and anxiety, has helped cancer patients tolerate chemotherapy, managed chronic arthritic pain, and aided patients in preparing for surgery and post surgery.
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