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YLMP2009 Abstract - Is Neuro–Linguistic Programming hoax or hard science?
A neuroscientific investigation into the theory
Marek Kiczkowiak (School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań)
Neuro–Linguistic Programming [NLP] was first introduced in the early 1970s with a
publication by Richard Bandler and John Grinder “Structures of magic I and II”. Since then,
NLP has gained immense popularity around the world. Bandler and Grinder have been
travelling around the globe giving seminars and helping thousands of people change the way
they perceived themselves and the world around them. Despite the fact that the number of
publications devoted to NLP is high, the theory is criticised by psychologists for the lack of
subjective scientific evidence. However, it appears that NLP has not been analysed from a
neuroscientific perspective. Thus, reaching any objective conclusions regarding the theory is
scientifically disallowed. This paper attempts to carry out a neuroscientific analysis of the
core principles of NLP and their impact on our brain by making references to neuroimagining
studies using such techniques as functional magnetic resonance (fMRI). The paper shows that
NLP uses techniques influencing our emotional states that lead to a re-organisation of our
brain’s function. Analogous techniques are used in neuroscientific research (Ochsner 2002,
2004a, 2004b; Hamann 2002). According to neuroimaging studies carried out by Schwartz
(1996), Martin (2001) and Paquette (2003), a successful psychological treatment can cause
changes in our cerebral circuits. It appears that NLP’s successful communication techniques
can be correlated with phenomena, such as the Theory of Mind and mirror neurons (Gallese
1998, 2006; Lakin 2003a, 2003b; Umiltà 2001). Moreover, NLP uses the term ‘anchoring’
which denotes the brain’s ability to link or anchor feelings to external stimuli. Anchoring
seems to be analogous to the unconscious learning processes which take place in the brain
(Baumeister et al. 2007; Olsson – Ochsner 2007).

Bandler, Richard – John Grinder. 2008. Struktura magii [The Structure of Magic] 2 vols.
Baumeister, R. F. et al. 2007. “How emotion shapes behavior: feedback, anticipation, and reflection, rather than direct causation”, Personality And Social Psychology Review: An Official Journal Of The Society For Personality And Social Psychology, Inc 11: 167–203. Gallese, Vittorio – Alvin Goldman. 1998. “Mirror neurons and the simulation theory of mind reading”, Trends in Cognitive Sciences 12: 493–501. Gallese, Vittorio. 2006. “Intentional attunement: A neurophysiological perspective on social cognition and its disruption in autism”, Brain Research 1079: 15–24. Goldin, Philippe R. – Kateri McRae – Wiveka Ramel – James J. Gross. 2008. “The neural bases of emotion regulation: reappraisal and suppression of negative emotion”, Biological Psychiatry 63: 577–86. YLMP2009 Abstract - Laborde, Genie Z. 1998. Influencing with integrity. Carmarthen: Crown House Publishing Lakin, Jessica L. et al. 2003. “The chameleon effect as a social glue: Evidence for the evolutionary significance of nonconcious mimicry”, Journal of Nonverbal Behavior 27: 145–162. Lakin, Jessica L. – Tanya L. Chartrand. 2003. “Using nonconcious behavioral mimicry to create affiliation and rapport”, Psychological Science 14: 334–39. LeDoux, Joseph E. 2002. “Emotion, Memory and the Brain”, Scientific American Special Martin, S.D. et al. 2001. “Brain blood flow changes in depressed patients treated with interpersonal psychotherapy or venlafaxine hydrochloride: preliminary findings”, Archives Of General Psychiatry 58, 641 –648. O’Connor, Joseph – John Seymour. 2002. Introducing NLP. London: Harper Collins Ochsner, Kevin N. et al. 2002. “Rethinking feelings: An fMRI study of cognitive regulation of emotion”, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 14: 1215–1229. Ochsner, Kevin N. et al. 2004. “For better or for worse: neural systems supporting the cognitive down- and up-regulation of negative emotion”, NeuroImage 23: 483–99. Ochsner, Kevin N. et al. 2004. „Reflecting upon feelings: An fMRI study of neural systems supporting the attribution of emotion to self and other”, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 16: 1746–1772. Olsson, Andreas – Kevin N. Ochsner. 2007. “The role of social cognition in emotion”, Trends in Cognitive Sciences 12: 65–71. Paquette, Vincent et al. 2003. “Change the mind and you change the brain: effects of cognitive–behavioral therapy on the neural correlates of spider phobia”, NeuroImage 18: 401–409. Ramakrishna, Jayashree. 2005. “Rapport building and blurring identity”, Indian Journal of Schwartz, J.M. et al. 1996. “Systematic changes in cerebral glucose metabolic rate after successful behavior modification treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder”, Archives Of General Psychiatry 53, 109 –113. Umiltà, M. A. et al. 2001. “I know what you are doing: A neurophysiological study”, Neuron


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Paper title: Islam and Biotechnology: With Special Reference to Genetically Modified Foods Author: Mohd Safian, Yasmin Hanani Institutional Affiliation: Lecturer, Faculty of Shari`ah and Law, Islamic University College of Malaysia This paper was prepared for "Science and Religion: Global Perspectives", June 4-8, 2005, in Philadelphia, PA, USA, a program of the Metanexus Institute Abstract:

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