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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: 5.04). 04/2013; DOI: 10.1093/scan/nst043
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT 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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    ABSTRACT: Mindfulness is the dispassionate, moment-by-moment awareness of sensations, emotions and thoughts. Mindfulness-based interventions are being increasingly used for stress, psychological well being, coping with chronic illness as well as adjunctive treatments for psychiatric disorders. However, the neural mechanisms associated with mindfulness have not been well characterized. Recent functional and structural neuroimaging studies are beginning to provide insights into neural processes associated with the practice of mindfulness. A review of this literature revealed compelling evidence that mindfulness impacts the function of the medial cortex and associated default mode network as well as insula and amygdala. Additionally, mindfulness practice appears to effect lateral frontal regions and basal ganglia, at least in some cases. Structural imaging studies are consistent with these findings and also indicate changes in the hippocampus. While many questions remain unanswered, the current literature provides evidence of brain regions and networks relevant for understanding neural processes associated with mindfulness.
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May 21, 2014