Research has shown that the Flash Technique (FT) appears to reduce memory-related disturbance and may reduce symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. This paper discusses the connections between FT and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. In FT, clients remind themselves of a traumatic memory without dwelling on it and focus instead on a positive engaging focus and then blink their eyes when prompted. This paper summarizes numerous models describing how the brain processes traumatic material and presents a model for how FT may work in the brain. It proposes that during the blinking, the patient’s periaqueductal gray (PAG) may take over, sensing the reminder of the traumatic memory and reflexively triggering the amygdala. In Porges’s neuroception model, the PAG assesses danger without going through the conscious brain. Recent fMRI data show that for patients with posttraumatic stress disorder, there is enhanced connectivity from the amygdala to the left hippocampus. Thus, triggering the amygdala may, in turn, activate the left hippocampus, which may then provide a brief access to the traumatic memory. Given the brief access, there is insufficient time for the amygdala to go into overactivation. The client remains calm while accessing the traumatic memory, thus setting up the prediction error necessary for possible memory reconsolidation. This process is repeated during blinking in FT allowing memory reconsolidation to proceed. This model requires experimental confirmation.
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Wong, S.-L. (2021). Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 15(3), 174–184. https://doi.org/10.1891/EMDR-D-21-00048
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research