Let it be: mindful acceptance down-regulates pain and negative emotion.
ABSTRACT: Mindfulness training ameliorates clinical and self-report measures of depression and chronic pain, but its use as an emotion regulation strategy-in individuals who do not meditate-remains understudied. As such, whether it (i) down-regulates early affective brain processes or (ii) depends on cognitive control systems remains unclear. We exposed meditation-naïve participants to two kinds of stimuli: negative vs. neutral images and painful vs. warm temperatures. On alternating blocks, we asked participants to either react naturally or exercise mindful acceptance. Emotion regulation using mindful acceptance was associated with reductions in reported pain and negative affect, reduced amygdala responses to negative images and reduced heat-evoked responses in medial and lateral pain systems. Critically, mindful acceptance significantly reduced activity in a distributed, a priori neurologic signature that is sensitive and specific to experimentally induced pain. In addition, these changes occurred in the absence of detectable increases in prefrontal control systems. The findings support the idea that momentary mindful acceptance regulates emotional intensity by changing initial appraisals of the affective significance of stimuli, which has consequences for clinical treatment of pain and emotion.
Project description:PURPOSE:The aim of the current study was to examine the moderating effect of mindful eating on the relationship between emotional functioning and eating styles in overweight and obese women. METHODS:One hundred and eighty four overweight and obese adult women (BMI 30.12?±?3.77 kg/m2) were assessed with the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale, the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire and the Mindful Eating Scale. RESULTS:Mindful eating significantly moderated several of the relationships between emotional functioning and eating styles. At all levels of mindful eating, emotion dysregulation and negative affect are both associated with greater emotional eating, but with stronger associations for high levels of mindful eating. For people low in mindful eating, both emotion dysregulation and negative affect are associated with lower restrictive eating, and neither of them are associated with uncontrolled eating. For people high in mindful eating, neither emotion dysregulation nor negative affect are associated with restrictive eating, and only negative affect is associated with greater uncontrolled eating. CONCLUSION:When mindful eating techniques are included as part of an intervention for overweight or obese individuals, it is even more important that those interventions should also include techniques to reduce emotion dysregulation and negative affect. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:Level V, descriptive study.
Project description:Neuroimaging has identified many correlates of emotion but has not yet yielded brain representations predictive of the intensity of emotional experiences in individuals. We used machine learning to identify a sensitive and specific signature of emotional responses to aversive images. This signature predicted the intensity of negative emotion in individual participants in cross validation (n =121) and test (n = 61) samples (high-low emotion = 93.5% accuracy). It was unresponsive to physical pain (emotion-pain = 92% discriminative accuracy), demonstrating that it is not a representation of generalized arousal or salience. The signature was comprised of mesoscale patterns spanning multiple cortical and subcortical systems, with no single system necessary or sufficient for predicting experience. Furthermore, it was not reducible to activity in traditional "emotion-related" regions (e.g., amygdala, insula) or resting-state networks (e.g., "salience," "default mode"). Overall, this work identifies differentiable neural components of negative emotion and pain, providing a basis for new, brain-based taxonomies of affective processes.
Project description:Considerable research has disclosed how cognitive reappraisals and the modulation of emotional responses promote successful emotion regulation. Less research has examined how the early processing of emotion-relevant stimuli may create divergent emotional response consequences. Mindfulness--a receptive, non-evaluative form of attention--is theorized to foster emotion regulation, and the present study examined whether individual differences in mindfulness would modulate neural responses associated with the early processing of affective stimuli. Focus was on the late positive potential (LPP) of the event-related brain potential to visual stimuli varying in emotional valence and arousal. This study first found, replicating past research, that high arousal images, particularly of an unpleasant type, elicited larger LPP responses. Second, the study found that more mindful individuals showed lower LPP responses to high arousal unpleasant images, even after controlling for trait attentional control. Conversely, two traits contrasting with mindfulness--neuroticism and negative affectivity--were associated with higher LPP responses to high arousal unpleasant images. Finally, mindfulness was also associated with lower LPP responses to motivationally salient pleasant images (erotica). These findings suggest that mindfulness modulates neural responses in an early phase of affective processing, and contribute to understanding how this quality of attention may promote healthy emotional functioning.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Pregnancy is a time of high risk for excessive weight gain, leading to health-related consequences for mothers and offspring. Theory-based obesity interventions that target proposed mechanisms of biobehavioral change are needed, in addition to simply providing nutritional and weight gain directives. Mindfulness training is hypothesized to reduce stress and non-homeostatic eating behaviors - or eating for reasons other than hunger or caloric need. We developed a mindfulness-based intervention for high-risk, low-income overweight pregnant women over a series of iterative waves using the Obesity-Related Behavioral Intervention Trials (ORBIT) model of intervention development, and tested its effects on stress and eating behaviors. METHODS:Overweight pregnant women (n =?110) in their second trimester were enrolled in an 8-week group intervention. Feasibility, acceptability, and facilitator fidelity were assessed, as well as stress, depression and eating behaviors before and after the intervention. We also examined whether pre-to-post intervention changes in outcomes of well-being and eating behaviors were associated with changes in proposed mechanisms of mindfulness, acceptance, and emotion regulation. RESULTS:Participants attended a mean of 5.7 sessions (median?=?7) out of 8 sessions total, and facilitator fidelity was very good. Of the women who completed class evaluations, at least half reported that each of the three class components (mindful breathing, mindful eating, and mindful movement) were "very useful," and that they used them on most days at least once a day or more. Women improved in reported levels of mindfulness, acceptance, and emotion regulation, and these increases were correlated with reductions in stress, depression, and overeating. CONCLUSIONS:These findings suggest that in pregnant women at high risk for excessive weight gain, it is both feasible and effective to use mindfulness strategies taught in a group format. Further, increases in certain mindfulness skills may help with better management of stress and overeating during pregnancy. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01307683 , March 8, 2011.
Project description:Children are confronted with an increasing amount of choices every day, which can be stressful. Decision-making skills may be one of the most important "21st century skills" that children need to master to ensure success. Many aspects of decision-making, such as emotion regulation during stressful situations, develop in the context of caregiver-child interactions. This study examined whether mindful parenting predicts children's individual and social decision-making. The current study included 63 mother-child dyads from The Netherlands (Child Mage = 5.11, SD = 0.88, 50.8% girls). Mothers completed the Dutch version of the Interpersonal Mindfulness in Parenting Scale (IM-P). A "Choice Task" was developed to measure individual decision-making skills, and a "Sharing Task" was created to measure social decision-making in young children. Higher maternal mindful parenting significantly predicted more sharing after controlling for covariates (child age, sex, SES, maternal education level; Wald = 4.505, p = 0.034). No main effect of maternal mindful parenting was found for any of the individual decision-making measures. These findings suggest that mindful parenting supports children's social decision-making. Future research should investigate if the combination of mindful parenting and children's early decision-making skills predict key developmental outcomes.
Project description:The article explores undergraduate students' experiences of developing mindful agency as a positive learning disposition, their perceived change as a learner, and the possible impact of mindful agency coaching on students' learning and personal growth, using a narrative research method. Seventy Chinese undergraduate students generated personal reflective journals and eight participants' journals were selected to enter into the narrative-oriented inquiry. Our analysis revealed a number of primary themes based on which we produced a meta-story. The supplements of the story were exacted for further critical cross-case discussion. The finding indicated that the multifaceted development of mindful agency involved learning methods, emotional regulation, strategic thinking, and awareness of planning, openness to experience, self-acceptance and self-esteem, and learning engagement, with enhanced sense of personal awareness and awakening. The coaching was supportive for students to foster positive self-identities and become more reflective, mindful, and self-determined.
Project description:Recent emotion dysregulation models of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) propose chronic worry in GAD functions as a maladaptive attempt to regulate anxiety related to uncertain or unpredictable outcomes. Emotion acceptance is an adaptive emotion regulation strategy increasingly incorporated into newer cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approaches to GAD to counter chronic worry. The current study explores the mechanisms of emotion acceptance as an alternate emotion regulation strategy to worry or emotion suppression using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Twenty-one female participants diagnosed with GAD followed counterbalanced instructions to regulate responses to personally relevant worry statements by engaging in either emotion acceptance, worry or emotion suppression. Emotion acceptance resulted in lower ratings of distress than worry and was associated with increased dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) activation and increased ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC)-amygdala functional connectivity. In contrast, worry showed significantly greater distress ratings than acceptance or suppression and was associated with increased precuneus, VLPFC, amygdala and hippocampal activation. Suppression did not significantly differ from acceptance in distress ratings or amygdala recruitment, but resulted in significantly greater insula and VLPFC activation and decreased VLPFC-amygdala functional connectivity. Emotion acceptance closely aligned with activation and connectivity patterns reported in studies of contextual extinction learning and mindful awareness.
Project description:Depressive rumination is considered a prominent risk factor for the occurrence, severity, and duration of depressive episodes. A variety of treatment options have been developed to treat depressive rumination of which mindfulness based programs are especially promising. In the current study, we investigated the neural underpinnings of a short mindfulness intervention and mindful emotion regulation in high and low trait ruminators in an ecologically valid environment using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Participants were randomly assigned to a mindfulness instruction (MT) group or an instructed thinking (IT) group. Participants in the MT group were trained to either focus their attention mindfully on their breath or their emotions, while the IT group focused their attention on the past or future. Afterwards, all participants underwent an emotion regulation paradigm in which they either watched negative or neutral movie clips. During both paradigms cortical hemodynamic changes were assessed by means of fNIRS. Participants in the MT group showed lower activity in the cognitive control network (CCN) during the focus on breath condition in comparison to the focus on emotion condition. Additionally, oxygenated hemoglobin in the MT group tended to be lower than in the IT group. Further, self-reports of emotional distress during the instruction paradigm were reduced in the MT group. During the emotion regulation paradigm, we observed reduced emotional reactivity in terms of emotional distress and avoidance in the MT group in comparison to the IT group. Furthermore, on a neural level, we observed higher CCN activity in the MT group in comparison to the IT group. We did not find any effect of rumination, neither on the intervention nor on the emotion regulation task. The results of this pilot study are discussed in light of the present literature on the neural correlates of mindfulness based interventions in rumination and emphasize the use of fNIRS to track neural changes in situ over the course of therapy.
Project description:Bipolar disorder (BD) and schizophrenia (Sz) share dysfunction in prefrontal inhibitory brain systems, yet exhibit distinct forms of affective disturbance. We aimed to distinguish these disorders on the basis of differential activation in cortico-limbic pathways during voluntary emotion regulation. Patients with DSM-IV diagnosed Sz (12) or BD-I (13) and 15 healthy control (HC) participants performed a well-established emotion regulation task while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging. The task required participants to voluntarily upregulate or downregulate their subjective affect while viewing emotionally negative images or maintain their affective response as a comparison condition. In BD, abnormal overactivity (hyperactivation) occurred in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) during up- and downregulation of negative affect, relative to HC. Among Sz, prefrontal hypoactivation of the right VLPFC occurred during downregulation (opposite to BD), whereas upregulation elicited hyperactivity in the right VLPFC similar to BD. Amygdala activity was significantly related to subjective negative affect in HC and BD, but not Sz. Furthermore, amygdala activity was inversely coupled with the activity in the left PFC during downregulation in HC (r=-0.76), while such coupling did not occur in BD or Sz. These preliminary results indicate that differential cortico-limbic activation can distinguish the clinical groups in line with affective disturbance: BD is characterized by ineffective cortical control over limbic regions during emotion regulation, while Sz is characterized by an apparent failure to engage cortical (hypofrontality) and limbic regions during downregulation.
Project description:Identifying factors that contribute to inter-individual differences in emotional reactivity is central to understanding the basic mechanisms that give rise to adaptive emotion reactivity and to disruptions that may occur in psychopathology. The current study related emotional reactivity in an unselected young adult sample (N = 101) to individual difference factors relevant to emotional functioning and mood pathology, specifically anhedonia, depressed mood, and current affective state. To assess emotional reactivity, participants rated their emotional responses to 100 pictures from the International Affective Picture System. Increased self-reported anhedonia (i.e. reduced hedonic capacity) predicted blunted emotional reactivity to both positive and negative images, relative to neutral images, while elevated depressed mood predicted potentiated emotional reactivity to negative vs. neutral images. Anhedonia also accounted for far greater variance in emotional reactivity than depressed mood. Further, more positive affective state predicted potentiated reactivity to positive versus neutral images while more negative affective state predicted potentiated reactivity to negative versus neutral images beyond effects of anhedonia and depressed mood. The current study identified separable effects of anhedonia, depressed mood, and current affect on emotional reactivity.