Introducing Acupressure

Big Think extends a warm thank you to Cogito and the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University for facilitating this interview.

Steven Castellano is a senior at High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey, and is one of Big Think's "10 under 25" young experts.

At High Tech, he was the vice-president of the Key Club, vice-president of the National Honor Society, and a member of the senior class council. He also served as the secretary for the New Jersey state Technology Student Association that works to promote technological literacy in schools throughout the country. He has developed a deep interest in behavioral neuroscience research throughout high school and has worked on projects investigating the effects of acupressure on alertness and visual attention skills.

His research has won first prize in the MIT THINK competition, the Delaware Valley Science Fair, the Jersey Shore Science Fair, and the New Jersey Academy of Science. In addition, Steven has been named an Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist and has presented his research to the American Junior Academy of Science division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Human Factors and Ergonomics division of the Federal Aviation Administration, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association. Most recently, his research has been published in Imagine magazine.

In 2009, Steven and his teammates won $20,000 in the 2009 Moody's Mega Math Challenge, an applied mathematics competition sponsored by the Moody's Foundation and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. During the challenge, his team had 14 hours to analyze and submit a paper on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The team was also featured on Bloomberg Radio's Taking Stock with Pimm Fox and Karen Moscow. His paper and presentation can be viewed at 2009 Winning Papers.

After graduating from High Tech, Steven plans to attend Columbia College of Columbia University to study neuroscience and physics.

  • Transcript


Question: What is acupressure?


Steven Castellano: So acupressure is, it refers to I guess the gentle massaging of specific target points in the body and you could kind of do a 90 degree angle for like 3 minutes a day. It’s what I do in my study. So it’s just like a form of massaging and what is supposed to do is I guess the theory behind acupressure there’s eastern and western theory. The eastern theory is that it regulates the flow of chi it’s an internal energy, that kind of flows to the body.

It suppose to like relieve the pain and restore balance to the body whereas I guess like in more western theory is that, they have a gate control theory and if we have a pain sensation then rubbing area, itching it you’re sending another sensation down to similar nerves and then the second sensation might override the first sensation. So, I mean, there’s different theories on and how it actually work is mainly for pain relief and I believe the second part of that question was how was it different from acupuncture? It’s not too different.

Acupuncture uses needles, it’s basically the same target locations, acupuncture is probably not minimal risk whereas acupressure you’re just massaging the body so it’s a little gentler. Acupuncture affects are said to be more exaggerated. So I guess if you want to have more folks experience you go to acupuncture specialist and get the needles.


Recorded on: May 08, 2009