Tiffany Field

Last updated
Tiffany Field
La Crosse, WI
Alma materUniversity of Cincinnati; Tufts University; University of Massachusetts, Amherst
OccupationProfessor, University of Miami School of Medicine

Tiffany Martini Field is professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Psychology, and Psychiatry at the University of Miami School of Medicine and Director of the Touch Research Institute. She specializes in infant development, especially with regard to the impact of maternal postpartum depression on mother-infant interaction and the efficacy of massage and touch therapy in promoting growth and emotional well-being in premature and low birth weight infants. [1] [2] [3]


Field received the American Psychological Association Boyd McCandless Award for distinguished early career contributions to developmental psychology in 1979. [4] In 2014, Field became the first psychologist to receive the Golden Goose Award for federally funded research on infant massage, an honor she shared with Saul Schanberg, Cynthia Kuhn, and Gary Evoniuk who established the beneficial effects of massage on growth in studies of rat pups. [5] [6]

Field is an author whose books include The Amazing Infant, [7] Infancy, [8] Touch, [9] Touch Therapy, [10] Complementary and Alternative Therapies Research, [11] and Massage Therapy Research, [12] as well as edited volumes.


Field attended the University of Cincinnati, where she studied Psychology and completed her bachelor's degree in 1963. She continued her education at Tufts University, earning a master's degree in Occupational Therapy in 1965 and a second master's degree in Child Studies in 1973. Field subsequently attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst and graduated with a PhD in Developmental Psychology in 1976. After a year as a visiting professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Field joined the faculty of the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami Medical School in 1977. She has remained at the University of Miami Medical School throughout her career with a joint appointment to the Fielding Graduate University. [3]

Field's research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (Senior Research Scientist Award), the National Institute of Mental Health (Research Scientist Development Award; Merit Award), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the United States Department of Health & Human Services Administration on Children, Youth and Families, the March of Dimes, Johnson & Johnson, and Gerber corporations.

Research on the Benefits of Touch

Field is best known for her research on the effectiveness of massage therapy for stimulating growth in preterm infants. In one of her studies, premature infants received tactile/kinesthetic stimulation, consisting of body stroking and passive movements of the limbs, 3 times per day for 15 minutes over a 10-day period. [13] These infants showed greater weight gain, were more active and alert, and were discharged from the hospital on average of six days earlier than a control group of premature infants who were not massaged. [14] Other research has focused on how massage during pregnancy and labor benefits the mother by decreasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In one study, pregnant women who received massage therapy for five weeks reported less anxiety, depression and leg and back pain than a control group who received relaxation therapy. [15] [16]

Extending her research on the benefits of touch to treatments for pain, Field and her colleagues conducted research demonstrating that regular massages (15 minutes a day for 30 days) reduced pain among children suffering from rheumatoid arthritis when compared with a control group receiving relaxation therapy. [17] Other work demonstrated similar benefits for adults suffering arthritis pain. [18] [19] In research focusing on the use of alternative therapies with elderly individuals, Field and her colleagues have demonstrated benefits of movement therapy, [20] massage, yoga, and tai chi. [21] [22]

Representative publications

Related Research Articles

Massage mechanical manipulation of skin, connective tissue, and muscles through stretching and pressure stimulus

Massage is the manipulation of the body's soft tissues. Massage techniques are commonly applied with hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearms, feet, or a device. The purpose of massage is generally for the treatment of body stress or pain. A person professionally trained to give massages is traditionally known as a masseur (male) or a masseuse (female). In the United States, the title massage therapist has been recognized as a business norm for those who have been professionally trained to give massages.

Physical intimacy Sensual proximity or touching

Physical intimacy is sensual proximity or touching. It is an act or reaction, such as an expression of feelings, between people. Examples of physical intimacy include being inside someone's personal space, holding hands, hugging, kissing, caressing and sexual activity. Physical intimacy can often convey the real meaning or intention of an interaction in a way that accompanying speech simply cannot do. Physical intimacy can be exchanged between any people but as it is often used to communicate positive and intimate feelings, it most often occurs in people who have a preexisting relationship, whether familial platonic or romantic, with romantic relationships having increased physical intimacy. Several forms of romantic touch have been noted including holding hands, hugging, kissing, cuddling, caressing and massaging, and physical affection is highly correlated with overall relationship and partner satisfaction.

Rolfing is a form of alternative medicine originally developed by Ida Rolf (1896–1979) as Structural Integration. It is typically delivered as a series of ten hands-on physical manipulation sessions sometimes called "the recipe". It is based on Rolf's ideas about how the human body's "energy field" can benefit when aligned with the Earth's gravitational field. Practitioners combine superficial and deep manual therapy with movement prompts. The process is sometimes painful. It is not known whether Rolfing is safe.


Tendinopathy, also known as tendinitis or tendonitis, is a type of tendon disorder that results in pain, swelling, and impaired function. The pain is typically worse with movement. It most commonly occurs around the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, or ankle.

Craniosacral therapy

Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a form of bodywork or alternative therapy that uses gentle touch to palpate the synarthrodial joints of the cranium. It is based on fundamental misconceptions about the physiology of the human skull and is promoted as a cure-all for a variety of health conditions.

Harry Harlow American psychologist

Harry Frederick Harlow was an American psychologist best known for his maternal-separation, dependency needs, and social isolation experiments on rhesus monkeys, which manifested the importance of caregiving and companionship to social and cognitive development. He conducted most of his research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow worked with him for a short period of time.

Haptic communication Branch of nonverbal communication that refers to the ways in which people and animals communicate, and interact via the sense of touch

Haptic communication is a branch of nonverbal communication that refers to the ways in which people and animals communicate and interact via the sense of touch. Touch is the most sophisticated and intimate of the five senses. Touch or haptics, from the ancient Greek word haptikos is extremely important for communication; it is vital for survival.

A relaxation technique is any method, process, procedure, or activity that helps a person to relax; to attain a state of increased calmness; or otherwise reduce levels of pain, anxiety, stress or anger. Relaxation techniques are often employed as one element of a wider stress management program and can decrease muscle tension, lower the blood pressure and slow heart and breath rates, among other health benefits.

Alternative cancer treatments Alternative or complementary treatments for cancer that have not demonstrated efficacy

Alternative cancer treatment describes any cancer treatment or practice that is not part of the conventional standard of cancer care. These include special diets and exercises, chemicals, herbs, devices, and manual procedures. Most alternative cancer treatments do not have high-quality evidence supporting their use. Concerns have been raised about the safety of some of them. Some have even been found to be unsafe in certain settings. Despite this, many untested and disproven treatments are used around the world. Promoting or marketing such treatments is illegal in most of the developed world.

Energy medicine is a branch of alternative medicine based on a pseudo-scientific belief that healers can channel healing energy into a patient and effect positive results. Practitioners use a number of names including various synonyms for medicine and sometimes use the word vibrational instead of or in concert with energy. In no case is any empirically measurable energy involved: the term refers instead to so-called subtle energy.

Tactile discrimination is the ability to differentiate information through the sense of touch. The somatosensory system is the nervous system pathway that is responsible for this essential survival ability used in adaptation. There are various types of tactile discrimination. One of the most well known and most researched is two-point discrimination, the ability to differentiate between two different tactile stimuli which are relatively close together. Other types of discrimination like graphesthesia and spatial discrimination also exist but are not as extensively researched. Tactile discrimination is something that can be either more or less severe in different people and two major conditions, chronic pain and blindness, can affect it greatly. Blindness increases tactile discrimination abilities which is extremely helpful for tasks like reading braille. In contrast, chronic pain conditions, like arthritis, decrease a person's tactile discrimination. One other major application of tactile discrimination is in new prosthetics and robotics which attempt to mimic the abilities of the human hand. In this case tactile sensors function similarly to mechanoreceptors in a human hand to differentiate tactile stimuli.

Haptic perception means literally the ability "to grasp something". Perception in this case is achieved through the active exploration of surfaces and objects by a moving subject, as opposed to passive contact by a static subject during tactile perception.

Somatosensory system Widely distributed parts of the sensory nervous system

The somatosensory system is a part of the sensory nervous system. The somatosensory system is a complex system of sensory neurons and neural pathways that responds to changes at the surface or inside the body. The axons of sensory neurons connect with, or respond to, various receptor cells. These sensory receptor cells are activated by different stimuli such as heat and nociception, giving a functional name to the responding sensory neuron, such as a thermoreceptor which carries information about temperature changes. Other types include mechanoreceptors, chemoreceptors, and nociceptors which send signals along a sensory nerve to the spinal cord where they may be processed by other sensory neurons and then relayed to the brain for further processing. Sensory receptors are found all over the body including the skin, epithelial tissues, muscles, bones and joints, internal organs, and the cardiovascular system.

Limbic resonance is the idea that the capacity for sharing deep emotional states arises from the limbic system of the brain. These states include the dopamine circuit-promoted feelings of empathic harmony, and the norepinephrine circuit-originated emotional states of fear, anxiety and anger.

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy treatment of disputed effectiveness using electromagnetic fields

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, also known as low field magnetic stimulation (LFMS) uses electromagnetic fields in an attempt to heal non-union fractures and depression. By 2007 the FDA had cleared several such stimulation devices.

Infant massage

Infant massage is a type of complementary and alternative treatment that uses massage therapy for babies. Evidence is insufficient to support its use in either full term or preterm babies to achieve physical growth.

Carlo V. Bellieni is an Italian neonatologist and a bioethicist. He served as Secretary of the Bioethics Committee of the Italian Pediatrics Society. He is also a member of the ethical board of the Siena Biotech research facility, and of the Ethical Board of the Siena University Hospital, where he directs the neonatal intensive therapy unit. He follows the empirical approach in bioethics. According to his studies, an ethical approach includes three main points: realism, reason and empathy. Bellieni is the author of many clinical research papers in international scientific journals, including studies on electromagnetic emission from neonatal incubators and on pain in children, and has written several books in Italian, Spanish, French, and English on neonatal pain and bioethics.

Sensory stimulation therapy (SST) is an experimental therapy that aims to utilize neural plasticity mechanisms to aid in the recovery of somatosensory function after stroke or cognitive ageing. Stroke and cognitive ageing are well known sources of cognitive loss, the former by neuronal death, the latter by weakening of neural connections. As SS implies a patient will have a desired sense stimulated in a predetermined fashion at a known frequency. It has been found that this technique can be used to reduce as much as 30 years of cognitive ageing, and can both improve two point discrimination thresholds and also impair them.

Pediatric massage is the complementary and alternative treatment that uses massage therapy, or "the manual manipulation of soft tissue intended to promote health and well-being" for children and adolescents. Its goal is to reduce pain, anxiety, loneliness and fear when children are hospitalized or diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition. Pediatric massage therapy takes into consideration each child's individual physical development, cognitive development and health care needs.

Psychosensory therapy is a form of therapeutic treatment that uses sensory stimuli to affect psychological and emotional health. In addition, psychosensory therapy is a group of therapeutic techniques that involves applying sensory inputs to treat various behaviors, mood, thoughts, symptoms, and pain. Psychosensory therapy has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine in addition to energy psychology. Some important figures in psychosensory therapy include chiropractor George Goodheart, psychiatrist John Diamond, clinical psychologist Roger Callahan, and Ronald Ruden.


  1. Goleman, Daniel (1988-08-18). "HEALTH: CHILD DEVELOPMENT; For Some Babies Troubled at Birth, Signs of Hope". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  2. Goleman, Daniel (1988-02-02). "The Experience of Touch: Research Points to a Critical Role". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  3. 1 2 "Tiffany Field Leads Guinness World Record". Fielding Graduate University. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  4. "Boyd McCandless Award". APA. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  5. "2014: Rat and Infant Massage". The Golden Goose Award. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  6. "Psychologist wins Golden Goose Award". APA. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  7. Field, Tiffany M. (2007). The amazing infant (1st ed.). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Pub. ISBN   978-1405153928. OCLC   71285164.
  8. Field, Tiffany M. (1990). Infancy . Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN   0674452631. OCLC   21560635.
  9. Field, Tiffany M. (2001). Touch . Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. ISBN   0262561565. OCLC   52290590.
  10. Field, Tiffany M. (2000). Touch therapy . Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. ISBN   0443057915. OCLC   41527868.
  11. Field, Tiffany M. (2009). Complementary and alternative therapies research . American Psychological Association. (1st ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. ISBN   9781433813993. OCLC   656836995.
  12. Field, Tiffany M. (2006). Massage therapy research (1st ed.). Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone. ISBN   0443102015. OCLC   460904356.
  13. Field, Tiffany M.; et al. (1986). "Tactile/Kinesthetic Stimulation Effects on Preterm Neonates". Pediatrics. 77 (5): 654–658. PMID   3754633.
  14. Goleman, Daniel (1988-02-02). "The Experience of Touch: Research Points to a Critical Role". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2017-10-16.
  15. Field, T.; Hemandez-Reif, M.; Hart, S.; Theakston, H.; Schanberg, S.; Kuhn, C. (1999-01-01). "Pregnant women benefit from massage therapy". Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology. 20 (1): 31–38. doi:10.3109/01674829909075574. ISSN   0167-482X. PMID   10212885.
  16. "What to Expect from Pregnancy Massage - MASSAGE Magazine". Retrieved 2017-11-11.
  17. Field, Tiffany; Hernandez-Reif, Maria; Seligmen, Susan; Krasnegor, Josh; Sunshine, William; Rivas-Chacon, Rafael; Schanberg, Saul; Kuhn, Cynthia (1997-10-01). "Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis: Benefits from Massage Therapy". Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 22 (5): 607–617. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/22.5.607 . ISSN   0146-8693. PMID   9383925.
  18. Field, Tiffany; Diego, Miguel; Hernandez-Reif, Maria; Shea, Jean (2007). "Hand arthritis pain is reduced by massage therapy". Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 11 (1): 21–24. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2006.09.002.
  19. "The Arthritis Foundation Reveals the Multiple Benefits of a Massage - Press Release - Digital Journal". Retrieved 2017-11-11.
  20. Hartshorn, Kristen; Delage, Jesse; Field, Tiffany; Olds, Loren (2002). "Senior citizens benefit from movement therapy". Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 6 (1): 55–58. doi:10.1054/jbmt.2001.0229.
  21. Field, Tiffany (2016). "Knee osteoarthritis pain in the elderly can be reduced by massage therapy, yoga and tai chi: A review". Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 22: 87–92. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2016.01.001. PMID   26850812.
  22. Konnikova, Maria (2015-03-04). "The Power of Touch". The New Yorker. ISSN   0028-792X . Retrieved 2017-11-11.