Galantamine Study Results Soon to be Published

I have been working with my colleagues Ryan Hurd (John F. Kennedy University and founder of www.dreamstudies.org and Dr. Ralph Carlson (my stats guru at UTRGV) on writing up the results of our study testing the impact of combining meditation and dream reliving (M/DR) with the ingestion of galantamine. 73 people volunteered for the ambitious eight-night study that involved getting up around 3 am and spending 40 minutes doing a variety of activities. While it would take too long to summarize the entire data, suffice to say that the integrated protocol (M/DR+galantamine) performed better overall than galantamine alone, but wasn't significantly better than galantamine alone. The two galantamine conditions (with and without meditation and dream reliving) blew away the baseline and placebo conditions on six measures--lucidity, reflectiveness (regardless of lucidity), interaction, role/status changes, constructive action, and the presence of fear/threat--showing us just how effective galantamine is.  M/DR+G was especially high on reflectiveness and fear/threat.

What was surprising is that fear/threat in dreams was higher, not lower, in the galantamine conditions. In our earlier study, based entirely on participants' recollection of their prior use of galantamine, they recalled that their dreams were lower, not higher on the presence of fear, threat and violence (we measured them separately in that study).

Our thinking is that using galantamine has a global positive impact, but that the actual content of dreams, when assessed immediately afterward, shows more fear/threat. The M/DR+G condition showed the greatest elevation of fear/threat, which makes sense in that dream reliving involves reliving a nightmare in fantasy as if one is lucid, and seeing it unfold in a more positive way. By itself, M/DR should increase nightmare content, but in a way that facilitates resolution. So the quantitive measures don't tell us the whole story, by any means. We will need to look at the specific phenomenology of the dreams to see if, indeed, the dreamers are working through the outwardly distressing dream content.

You might not know it, but all of the effective cognitive interventions for trauma resolution involve re-exposure to the original trauma or nightmare, and the reprocessing of the memory so that the level of distress is reduced. Our hope is that M/DR+G may create an optimal dream state for the re-engagement and resolution of unfinished business in general, and trauma in particular. It's an exciting research agenda, and I will be updating you as we find out more.

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