Honoring Dr. John Austin: the Science of the Alexander Technique

Fully-captioned recording now available!

On May 19, 2024, we held a hybrid event with a special program to celebrate Dr. Austin’s foundational contributions to the growing science of AT and its place in modern research. Attendees had the opportunity to experience a taste of the Technique, and its implications for modern pain science. The silent auction and other activities were all in support of Sapientia Initiative’s dedication to lifelong learning and achievement in the Alexander Technique. Watch the trailer!

Images of the four speakers listed below.

Our program featured Special Guest speakers including:
Dr. Tim Cacciatore, Alexander Technique Science
Dr. Rajal Cohen, m.AmSAT, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, Director at the Mind in Movement Laboratory
Bill Connington, m.AmSAT, Lecturer in Drama at Yale School of Drama
Dr. Jack Stern, MD PhD, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery NY Medical College
Judy Stern, PT, m.AmSAT

About Dr. John Austin

Dr. Austin was first introduced to AT by his viola teacher in 1973. He was so impressed with the Technique and its potential to ease the physical work of breathing, in the early 80’s, he and Pearl Ausubel designed and implemented the first scientific AT study addressing respiratory function using control subjects. The results were statistically significant.

His study, considered radical at the time, appeared in the medical journal, CHEST. Of the study, Dr. Austin says, “It was the most important paper I have ever written.”

Dr. Austin’s work laid the foundation for current AT science and research. Most recently his personal dedication to AT has positively impacted his ability to live with Parkinson’s.

John Austin is a living treasure in our field and an inspiration!

Recording available now!

Speaker Bios

Dr. Tim Cacciatore, Alexander Technique Science

Tim Cacciatore, PhD, is an expert in the neuroscience of postural tone and its relationship with movement coordination. He was motivated to study postural control because he thought the scientific literature lacked plausible explanations for how the Alexander Technique affected posture and helped his own back pain. His research has aimed to use somatic methods as a tool to reveal properties of the motor system. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles with leading experts in motor control such as Drs Victor Gurfinkel, Fay Horak, and Brian Day at institutions that have included University College London, Oregon Health Sciences University, and the University of California, San Diego. He will be joining us virtually from London.

Dr. Rajal Cohen, m.AmSAT, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology

Rajal Cohen joined the University of Idaho faculty in 2012, following a postdoctoral fellowship at Oregon Health & Science University, where she worked to untangle the complex relationship between cognitive and motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease. During her graduate work at Penn State, she focused on how young, healthy people plan and carry out everyday movements. Before that, Dr. Cohen trained in the Alexander Technique and had a private practice in rural Virginia, helping athletes, performing artists, and people with musculoskeletal pain learn to live in their bodies with greater power and ease. This experience inspired her decision to pursue a career investigating the mind-body connection. Dr. Cohen’s research program in the Mind in Movement Lab incorporates elements from all of these previous career stages.

Bill Connington, m.AmSAT, Lecturer in Drama at Yale School of Drama

Bill Connington is a lecturer in acting at Yale School of Drama. He is the author of three books on the Alexander Technique, and is the book series editor of Acting Essentials (Methuen Drama/Bloomsbury), the first book series for undergraduate drama. Bill is an actor and filmmaker, and a graduate of the London Academy of Music and Drama Art.

Dr. Jack Stern, MD PhD, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery NY Medical College

Dr. Jack Stern is clinical professor of neurosurgery at New York Medical College and has also taught at the Yale University School of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, and the Tufts University School of Medicine. A pioneer in using intraoperative neuromonitoring to enhance patient safety during neurosurgery, Dr. Stern focuses his practice on patients with spinal tumors, degenerative disc disease, and herniated discs, as well as spinal reconstruction. He founded one of this country’s private-practice neurosurgical groups, Brain and Spine Surgeons of New York, and founded Safe Passage Neuromonitoring. His book Ending Back Pain has been an Amazon best-seller. He also served on the editorial board of the North American Spine Society’s publication SpineLine. A past president of the alumni board of governors at Einstein, he has been a member of the board of trustees of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the Westchester branch of the American Jewish Committee, Executive Board of Congregation Bnai Jeshurun in NYC and has been named repeatedly to “top doctors” lists. He earned his M.D. and Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Einstein; he also has a bachelor’s degree in Hebrew literature from Yeshiva University. Dr. Stern did residencies at the New York University School of Medicine and the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center’s Neurological Institute. Dr Stern is a competitive sailor, fly fisherman, orchidist and proponent of the Alexander Technique.

Judy Stern, PT, m.AmSAT

Judy is an experienced teacher of the Alexander Technique with additional expertise in physical therapy. She has a keen interest in mentoring AT teachers, especially those who work with students with pain issues and recovery from injuries and illness. She has held leadership roles in AmSAT, at ACAT as both a Faculty member and a Board member. Judy was a director of the 8th International Congress in Lugano, Switzerland.

Judy proudly trained at ACAT (1987) and studied with the Carringtons and Elizabeth Walker.

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