Mindfulness and Emotion Regulation - an fMRI Study

M.D., University Hospital of Psychiatry Zürich, Department for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics Lenggstrasse 32 Phone: +41 44 384 23 57, P.O.-Box 1931 Fax: +41 44 384 25 06, CH - 8032 Zürich, Switzerland, .
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 7.37). 04/2013; 9(6). DOI: 10.1093/scan/nst043
Source: PubMed


Mindfulness - an attentive, non-judgmental focus on present experiences - is increasingly incorporated in psychotherapeutic treatments as a skill fostering emotion regulation. Neurobiological mechanisms of actively induced emotion regulation are associated with prefrontally mediated down-regulation of, for instance, the amygdala. We were interested in neurobiological correlates of a short mindfulness instruction during emotional arousal. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated effects of a short mindfulness intervention during the cued expectation and perception of negative and potentially negative pictures (50% probability) in 24 healthy individuals compared to 22 controls.The mindfulness intervention was associated with increased activations in prefrontal regions during the expectation of negative and potentially negative pictures compared to controls. During the perception of negative stimuli, reduced activation was identified in regions involved in emotion processing (amygdala, parahippocampal gyrus). Prefrontal and right insular activations when expecting negative pictures correlated negatively with trait mindfulness, suggesting that more mindful individuals required less regulatory resources to attenuate emotional arousal.Our findings suggest emotion regulatory effects of a short mindfulness intervention on a neurobiological level.

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Available from: Annette Beatrix Brühl, Oct 09, 2015
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    • "In several related studies, 20 min of mindfulness practice for 3–4 days improved sustained attention, visuospatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning, while reducing fatigue, anxiety, heart rate, and subjective experiences of pain compared to controls and sham meditation groups (Zeidan et al., 2010a,b,c). After training a mindfulness group with brief written instructions before a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan session, Lutz et al. (2014) found that mindfulness was associated with greater emotion regulation (increased superior mPFC) in anticipation of negative pictures, and decreased emotional responding during perception of emotional pictures (decreased amygdala and parahippocampal gyrus activity) compared to a control group. "
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    Neuropsychologia 06/2015; 75. DOI:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.05.030 · 3.30 Impact Factor
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    • "For instance, MBIs exhibit medium to large effects for anxiety and mood disorders (Hofmann et al. 2010; Vollestad et al. 2012); medium effects in the reduction of anxiety and mood symptoms among patient suffering from somatic illness such as cancer, diabetes, chronic fatigue, and heart disease (Hofmann et al. 2010); and medium to large effects for the reduction of stress, pain, and other symptoms in people with illnesses such as psoriasis, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and heart disease (Baer 2003; Grossman et al. 2004). Moreover, MBIs may improve cognitive processing (e.g., Greenberg et al. 2012; Heeren et al. 2009; Lutz et al. 2013). The findings from these meta-analyses suggest that MBIs are clinically effective interventions. "
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