Less Negative Emotions Occur in Mindful Children and Adolescents

Less Negative Emotions Occur in Mindful Children and Adolescents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

We ultimately want to give children (and teens, and adults!) the ability to notice however they feel in the moment, and the tools to manage and respond appropriately to their inner and outer experience.” – Oren Jay Sofer

 

Childhood and adolescence are times of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. But they can be difficult times, fraught with challenges. During these times the individual transitions from childhood to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during these times that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required. This can heighten negative emotions and anxiety. Indeed, up to a quarter of adolescents suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, and an even larger proportion struggle with subclinical symptoms.

 

Mindfulness training in adults has been shown to reduce anxietydepression, and perceived stress levels and improve emotional regulation. In addition, in adolescents it has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health. On the other hand, getting lost in thought (mind wandering) has been shown to be associated with negative emotions. Hence, there is a need to explore the relationship between mindfulness, getting lost in thought, and emotions in children and adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Cognitive Fusion Mediates the Relationship between Dispositional Mindfulness and Negative Affects: A Study in a Sample of Spanish Children and Adolescent School Students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6926870/), García-Gómez and colleagues recruited children and adolescents between the ages of 8 to 16 years. They were measured for cognitive fusion, experiential avoidance, mindfulness, positive and negative emotions, and anxiety.

 

They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of cognitive fusion, experiential avoidance, negative emotions, and anxiety. A mediation analysis revealed that mindfulness had both direct and indirect associations such that mindfulness was negatively associated directly with both negative emotions and anxiety and also indirectly by way of its negative association with cognitive fusion which was in turn negatively associated with negative emotions and anxiety. Higher levels of mindfulness were associated with lower levels of cognitive fusion which, in turn, were associated with lower levels of negative emotions and anxiety.

 

These results are correlational and thus causation cannot be determined. Also, this study employed only children and adolescents, So, it is not established if similar findings would occur in adults. But there are a large number of studies that demonstrate a causal effect of mindfulness on negative emotions and anxiety with adults. Indeed, in the present study, age did not moderate the results. Hence the present results probably are due to the effects of mindfulness on cognitive fusion and on these negative emotions and occur regardless of age.

 

“Cognitive fusion is a process by which the individual becomes entangled with memories, thoughts, judgments, and evaluations and adjust behavior to the internal experiences.” Hence cognitive fusion is the antithesis of mindfulness. One cannot be mindful and at the same time be lost in thoughts. This suggests that being lost in thought (cognitive fusion) tends to produce negative emotions, while being mindful tends to reduce these negative emotions. This suggests that mindfulness by focusing the individual on the present moment improves the individual’s emotional state and also tends to prevent getting lost in thought which also improves the individual’s emotional state.

 

So, reduce getting lost in thought and negative emotions with mindfulness.

 

When I look at childhood anxiety I see an enormous problem and a precursor to other problems in adolescents and adults,” – Randye Semple

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

García-Gómez, M., Guerra, J., López-Ramos, V. M., & Mestre, J. M. (2019). Cognitive Fusion Mediates the Relationship between Dispositional Mindfulness and Negative Affects: A Study in a Sample of Spanish Children and Adolescent School Students. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(23), 4687. doi:10.3390/ijerph16234687

 

Abstract

Nowadays, mindfulness-based interventions (MBI) have experienced a remarkable development of studies among childhood and adolescent interventions. For this reason, dispositional mindfulness (DM) measures for children and adolescents have been developed to determine the effectiveness of MBI at this age stage. However, little is known about how key elements of DM (for example, cognitive de/fusion or experiential avoidance that both confirm psychological inflexibility) are involved in the mechanisms of the children and adolescents’ mental health outcomes. This research examined the mediating effect of cognitive fusion between DM and anxiety and other negative emotional states in a sample of 318 Spanish primary-school students (aged between 8 and 16 years, M = 11.24, SD = 2.19, 50.8% males). Participants completed the AFQ-Y (Avoidance and Fusion Questionnaire for youth), which is a measure of psychological inflexibility that encompasses cognitive defusion and experiential avoidance; CAMM (DM for children and adolescents), PANAS-N (positive and negative affect measure for children, Spanish version of PANASC), and STAIC (an anxiety measure for children). The study accomplished ethical standards. As MBI relevant literature has suggested, cognitive defusion was a significant mediator between DM and symptoms of both negative emotions and anxiety in children and adolescents. However, experiential avoidance did not show any significant mediating relationship. Probably, an improvement of the assessment of experiential avoidance is needed. MBI programs for children and adolescents may include more activities for reducing effects of the cognitive defusion on their emotional distress.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6926870/

 

Spirituality is Associated with Better Mental and Physical Health and Cognitive Ability in African Americans

Spirituality is Associated with Better Mental and Physical Health and Cognitive Ability in African Americans

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

all black religious expression has most of the following attributes: It is animistic, or spirit-filled; anthropocentric, or human-centered; dynamic; expressionistic; shamanistic (believing in communicating with spirits); and thaumaturgic (belief in miracle working).” – Diana Hayes

 

The immune system is designed to protect the body from threats like stress, infection, injury, and toxic chemicals. One of its tools is the Inflammatory response. This response works quite well for short-term infections and injuries. But when inflammation is protracted and becomes chronic, it can itself become a threat to health. It can produce autoimmune diseases such as colitis, Chron’s disease, arthritis, heart disease, increased cancer risk, lung disease, sleep disruption, gum disease, decreased bone health, psoriasis, and depression. Needless to say, chronic inflammation can create major health problems. Indeed, the presence of chronic inflammation is associated with reduced longevity. So, it is important for health to control the inflammatory response, allowing it to do its job in fighting off infection but reducing its activity when no external threat is apparent.

 

Depression is linked with increase inflammatory responses. Mind-body techniques such as yoga, Tai Chi and meditation have been shown to adaptively reduce the inflammatory response.  In addition, spirituality has been shown to be associated with reduced depression. African Americans have significantly greater incidences of disease. So, it is reasonable to investigate the relationships of spirituality, depression, inflammation and health in African Americans.

 

In today’s Research News article “Influence of Spirituality on Depression-Induced Inflammation and Executive Functioning in a Community Sample of African Americans.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6478044/), Herren and colleagues recruited healthy adult African Americans and measured them for depression, daily spiritual experiences, cognitive ability, and response inhibition. Blood was drawn and measured for inflammatory cytokines; IL-1a, TNF-a and IL-6.

 

They found that the higher the levels of depression the lower the levels of cognitive ability (executive function). This relationship was in part mediated by the levels of the inflammatory cytokine, IL-6, such that depression was associated with higher levels of IL-6 which in turn were associated with lower cognitive ability. Interestingly, they also found that the higher the frequency of daily spiritual experiences the lower the levels of depression and the higher the levels of cognitive ability and response inhibition. In addition, spirituality moderated the relationships of IL-6 with cognitive ability, such that the greater the frequency of spiritual experiences the smaller the negative relationship of IL-6 with cognitive ability.

 

These findings are interesting but they are correlational and causation cannot be determined. But they suggest that spirituality is associated with better physical and psychological health in African Americans. It is associated with lower depression levels and better cognitive performance. Additionally, it was associated with a lessened negative relationship between the inflammatory response and cognitive ability.

 

African Americans are generally more religious and spiritual than other groups. The present findings may help to explain why. Their spirituality is associated with better mental and physical health and cognitive ability. It remains for future research to determine if these relationships are causal and spirituality produces these benefits. It also remains to be seen if these relationships are present in other ethnic and racial groups.

 

Spirituality is associated with better mental and physical health and cognitive ability in African Americans.

 

Changing our thoughts, feelings and behaviour to positivity, optimism, hope, acceptance and love boosts immunity at the physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual levels.” – Sunnyside

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Herren, O. M., Burris, S. E., Levy, S. A., Kirk, K., Banks, K. S., Jones, V. L., … Campbell, A. L. (2019). Influence of Spirituality on Depression-Induced Inflammation and Executive Functioning in a Community Sample of African Americans. Ethnicity & disease, 29(2), 267–276. doi:10.18865/ed.29.2.267

 

Abstract

African Americans (AAs) are disproportionately affected by cerebrovascular pathology and more likely to suffer from premature cognitive decline. Depression is a risk factor for poorer cognitive functioning, and research is needed to identify factors that serve to mitigate its negative effects. Studies have demonstrated positive influences of spirituality within the AA community. Determining whether spirituality attenuates the effects of depressive symptoms on cognitive functioning and the pathophysiological mechanisms that explain these relationships in AAs is paramount. This study examines the influence of daily spiritual experiences on the relationship between depressive symptoms and cognitive functioning, and how inflammatory markers may partially explain these associations. A sample of 212 (mean age= 45.6) participants completed the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES), Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), Trail Making Test A and B (TMT) and Stroop Color and Word Test (Stroop). Blood samples were collected to measure inflammatory mediators (IL-6, IL-1a, TNF-a). Linear regression analyses were used to evaluate associations. Higher BDI-II scores were associated with poorer psychomotor speed and visual scanning, measured by TMT A (B=1.49, P=.01). IL-6 explained a significant amount of variance in this relationship (B=.24, CI 95% [.00, .64]). IL-6 also significantly mediated the relationship between depressive symptoms and psychomotor speed and mental flexibility, measured by TMT B performance (B=.03, CI 95% [.003, .095]). Frequent spiritual experiences among AAs may ameliorate the negative influence of depressive symptoms on cognitive functioning.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6478044/

 

Improve Brain Function and Mild Cognitive Impairment in the Elderly with Tai Chi

Improve Brain Function and Mild Cognitive Impairment in the Elderly with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

in individuals age 60 or older with mild cognitive impairment . . . engaging in tai chi (a series of gentle, slow movements accompanied by deep breathing) reduces the risk of falling. What’s more, it may also improve cognitive abilities.” – Health and Wellness Alerts

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. The elderly frequently have problems with attention, thinking, and memory, known as mild cognitive impairment. An encouraging new development is that mindfulness practices such as meditation training and mindful movement practices can significantly reduce these declines in cognitive ability. In addition, it has been found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditationyoga, and Tai Chi have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners.

 

Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevityTai Chi training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Tai Chi practice has been found to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues. Tai Chi has been shown to help the elderly improve attentionbalance, reducing fallsarthritiscognitive function, memory, and reduce age related deterioration of the brain. So, it makes sense to further study the effectiveness of Tai Chi training on older adults with mild cognitive impairment to improve their cognitive performance.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mind-body exercise improves cognitive function and modulates the function and structure of the hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex in patients with mild cognitive impairment.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6535682/), Tao and colleagues recruited sedentary patients over 60 years of age who were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. They were randomly assigned to receive 24 weeks, 3 times per week for 1 hour, of either Baduanjin Tai Chi or brisk walking, or 8 weeks, once a week for 30 minutes of health education. They were measured before and after the 24 weeks of training for cognitive function including naming, verbal memory registration, visuospatial/executive functions, and learning, attention, and abstraction. Their brains were also scanned with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) before and after training.

 

They found that the group that practiced Baduanjin Tai Chi had significant improvements in cognitive functions that were about double those of the walking and health education groups. In the fMRI data they investigated the resting state amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (ALFF), that is linked with cerebral blood flow. They found that Baduanjin Tai Chi group had significant decreases in ALFF in the right hippocampus and significant increases in the left medial prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex. They also found that the Baduanjin Tai Chi group had significant increases in grey matter volume in the right hippocampus and the anterior cingulate cortex and increased functional connectivity between the hippocampus and right angular gyrus. Importantly, they found that the greater the change in the ALFF for the right hippocampus and also the anterior cingulate cortex the greater the improvement in cognitive function.

 

The hippocampus has been shown to be involved in information storage (memory). Since one of the biggest changes that accompany mild cognitive impairments are deficits in memory, it seems logical that interventions that improve cognitive function in these patients would affect the brain structure involved in the memory process.

 

These are very interesting results from a well-controlled study. They suggest that participation in Baduanjin Tai Chi changes the brain and increases cognitive function in patients with mild cognitive impairments. These results are in line with previous findings that Tai Chi improves cognitive function, memory, and reduces age related deterioration of the brain in the elderly. The results also suggest that the changes in the brain are associated with the changes in cognitive ability.

 

It’s important to note that Tai Chi is gentle and safe, appropriate for all ages, and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. Overall, the results suggest that participation in Tai Chi should be recommended for patients with mild cognitive impairments.

 

So, improve brain function and mild cognitive impairment in the elderly with Tai Chi

 

 

adults with mild cognitive impairment . . . found that a 12-week exercise program significantly improved performance on a semantic memory task, and also significantly improved brain efficiency.” – About Memory

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Tao, J., Liu, J., Chen, X., Xia, R., Li, M., Huang, M., … Kong, J. (2019). Mind-body exercise improves cognitive function and modulates the function and structure of the hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex in patients with mild cognitive impairment. NeuroImage. Clinical, 23, 101834. doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2019.101834

 

Abstract

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a common neurological disorder. This study aims to investigate the modulation effect of Baduanjin (a popular mind-body exercise) on MCI. 69 patients were randomized to Baduanjin, brisk walking, or an education control group for 24 weeks. The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans were applied at baseline and at the end of the experiment. Compared to the brisk walking and control groups, the Baduanjin group experienced significantly increased MoCA scores. Amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (ALFF) analysis showed significantly decreased ALFF values in the right hippocampus (classic low-freqency band, 0.01‐0.08 Hz) in the Baduanjin group compared to the brisk walking group and increased ALFF values in the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC, slow-5 band, 0.01-0.027 Hz) in the Baduanjin group compared to the control group. Further, ALFF value changes in the right hippocampus and bilateral ACC were significantly associated with corresponding MoCA score changes across all groups. We also found increased gray matter volume in the Baduanjin group in the right hippocampus compared to the brisk walking group and in the bilateral ACC compared to the control group. In addition, there was an increased resting state functional connectivity between the hippocampus and right angular gyrus in the Baduanjin group compared to the control group. Our results demonstrate the potential of Baduanjin for the treatment of MCI.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6535682/

 

Improve Gulf War Illness in Veterans with Tai Chi

Improve Gulf War Illness in Veterans with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

A prominent condition affecting Gulf War Veterans is a cluster of medically unexplained chronic symptoms that can include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems.” – US Department of Veterans Affairs

 

Engaging in warfare has many consequences to society and individuals, including the warriors themselves. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common problem among military veterans with between 11% to 20% of veterans who were involved in combat developing PTSD. There is a specific syndrome that has been identified in about 36% of veterans of the Persian Gulf war of 1991. The cluster of symptoms include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems.

 

It has been demonstrated that mindfulness training is effective for PTSD symptoms . In addition, Yoga practice is a mindfulness practice that has been shown to be helpful for PTSD. Mindful movement practices such as Tai Chi and Qigong have been found to be beneficial for individuals with a myriad of physical and psychological problems. This raises the possibility that Tai Chi practice may be beneficial for veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Tai Chi Mind-Body Approach on the Mechanisms of Gulf War Illness: an Umbrella Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6600798/), Reid and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice in relieving the symptoms of participants whose symptoms were similar to Gulf War Illness. They identified multiple randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses of Tai Chi practice for these symptoms.

 

They report that the published research indicates that Tai Chi practice significantly improves mood, sleep, global cognitive function, and respiratory function and significantly decreases insomnia, anxiety, depression, stress, and chronic pain. Hence Tai Chi practice has been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms that commonly occur in Gulf War Illness. This suggests that Tai Chi practice should be tried directly to treat veterans with Gulf War Syndrome. It remains for future research to test this hypothesis.

 

So, improve Gulf War Illness in veterans with Tai Chi.

 

Mindfulness-based stress reduction may provide significant benefits to symptoms associated with Gulf War Illness in veterans.” – Laura Stiles

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Reid, K. F., Bannuru, R. R., Wang, C., Mori, D. L., & Niles, B. L. (2019). The Effects of Tai Chi Mind-Body Approach on the Mechanisms of Gulf War Illness: an Umbrella Review. Integrative medicine research, 8(3), 167–172. doi:10.1016/j.imr.2019.05.003

 

Abstract

Gulf War illness (GWI) is a chronic and multisymptom disorder affecting military veterans deployed to the 1991 Persian Gulf War. It is characterized by a range of acute and chronic symptoms, including but not limited to, fatigue, sleep disturbances, psychological problems, cognitive deficits, widespread pain, and respiratory and gastrointestinal difficulties. The prevalence of many of these chronic symptoms affecting Gulf War veterans occur at markedly elevated rates compared to nondeployed contemporary veterans. To date, no effective treatments for GWI have been identified. The overarching goal of this umbrella review was to critically evaluate the evidence for the potential of Tai Chi mind-body exercise to benefit and alleviate GWI symptomology. Based on the most prevalent GWI chronic symptoms and case definitions established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas Gulf War Veterans Health Initiative Program, we reviewed and summarized the evidence from 7 published systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Our findings suggest that Tai Chi may have the potential for distinct therapeutic benefits on the major prevalent symptoms of GWI. Future clinical trials are warranted to examine the feasibility, efficacy, durability and potential mechanisms of Tai Chi for improving health outcomes and relieving symptomology in GWI.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6600798/

 

Improve Cognitive Function in the Elderly with Mind-Body Practices

Improve Cognitive Function in the Elderly with Mind-Body Practices

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment can learn to practice mindfulness meditation, and by doing so may boost their cognitive reserve.” – Rebecca Erwin Wells

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our cognitive (mental) abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem-solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Research has found that mindfulness practices reduce the deterioration of the brain that occurs with aging restraining the loss of neural tissue. Indeed, the brains of practitioners of meditation and yoga have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners. Tai Chi and Qigong have also been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging.

 

The research findings are accumulating suggesting that a summarization of what has been learned is called for. In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Mind-Body Exercise on Cognitive Performance in Elderly: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313783/), Zhang and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published randomized controlled studies (RCTs) of the effectiveness of the mind-body practices of yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong, and Pilates to improve cognitive performance in the elderly (aged 60 and over).

 

They identified 19 published RCTs that included a total of 2539 participants. They report that the published studies reveal a significant, albeit small, improvement in global cognitive function after mind-body practices. This included significant improvements in executive function, language ability, memory, and visuospatial ability. They also report that the amount of improvement was significantly related to the amount of mind-body exercise training. Interestingly, the effects appear to be better in elderly without any signs of dementia than in those with mild dementia symptoms.

 

The findings based upon a fair number of well-controlled studies are relatively consistent revealing that mind-body practices are safe and effective in improving cognitive function in individuals over 60 years of age. This suggests that engaging in these practices can reduce the decline in mental abilities occurring with aging. This suggests that engaging in yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong, or Pilates practices should be recommended for people over 60 years of age.

 

So, improve cognitive function in the elderly with mind-body practices.

 

engagement in mindfulness meditation may enhance cognitive performance in older adults, and that with persistent practice, these benefits may be sustained.” – Grace Bullock

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Zhang, Y., Li, C., Zou, L., Liu, X., & Song, W. (2018). The Effects of Mind-Body Exercise on Cognitive Performance in Elderly: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(12), 2791. doi:10.3390/ijerph15122791

 

Abstract

Background: As the situation of cognitive aging is getting worse, preventing or treating cognitive decline through effective strategies is highly important. This systematic review aims to investigate whether mind-body exercise is an effective approach for treating cognition decline. Methods: Searches for the potential studies were performed on the eight electronic databases (MEDLINE, Scopus, Web of Science, SPORTDiscus, CINAHL, PsycArtilces, CNKI, and Wanfang). Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) examining the effect of mind-body exercise on cognitive performance in older adults were included. Data were extracted and effect sizes were pooled with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) using random-effects models. The Physiotherapy Evidence Database Scale was employed to examine the study quality. Results: Nineteen RCTs including 2539 elders (67.3% female) with fair to good study quality were identified. Mind-body exercise, relative to control intervention, showed significant benefits on cognitive performance, global cognition (Hedges’g = 0.23), executive functions (Hedges’g = 0.25 to 0.65), learning and memory (Hedges’g = 0.37 to 0.49), and language (Hedges’g = 0.35). In addition, no significant adverse events were reported. Conclusion: Mind-body exercise may be a safe and effective intervention for enhancing cognitive function among people aged 60 years or older. Further research evidence is still needed to make a more conclusive statement.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6313783/

 

Improve Psychological Functioning with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Functioning with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

” the positive potential benefits of mindfulness practice are more attentional control, more effective emotional regulation, enhanced social relationships, reduced risk for physical ailments, enhanced immune system functioning, and better sleep quality.” – Jason Linder

 

Over the last several decades, research and anecdotal experiences have accumulated an impressive evidential case that the development of mindfulness has positive benefits for the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual life. Mindfulness appears to be beneficial both for healthy people and for people suffering from a myriad of mental and physical illnesses. It appears to be beneficial across ages, from children to the elderly. And it appears to be beneficial across genders, personalities, race, and ethnicity. The breadth and depth of benefits is unprecedented. There is no other treatment or practice that has been shown to come anyway near the range of mindfulness’ positive benefits.

 

The clustering of these benefits may supply a clue as to how mindfulness training is working to improve mental health. This can be investigated by looking at the interrelationships between the effects of mindfulness training. In today’s Research News article “Does mindfulness change the mind? A novel psychonectome perspective based on Network Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6638953/), Roca and colleagues apply network analysis to investigate the interrelationships between a large number of effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training.

 

They recruited healthy adult participants in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. The MBSR program consisted of 32 hours of training separated into 8 weekly group sessions involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and discussion. The patients were also encouraged to perform daily practice. They were measured before and after MBSR training for meditation experience, and psychological and physical health problems, and 5 categories of mindfulness effects; 1) Mindfulness, including five facets, decentering, non-attachment, and bodily awareness, 2) Compassion, including compassion towards oneself and others and empathy, 3) Psychological well-being, including satisfaction with life, optimism, and overall well-being, 4) Psychological distress, including anxiety, stress, and depression, and 5) Emotional and cognitive control, including emotional regulation, rumination, thought suppression and attentional control.

 

They found that after MBSR training there were significant improvements in effectively all of the five categories. This is not new as much research has demonstrated that mindfulness training produces improvements in mindfulness, compassion, psychological well-being, psychological distress, and emotional and cognitive control.

 

These data were then subjected to network analysis. Prior to MBSR training the network analysis revealed clustering in three paths “mindfulness and self-compassion; clinical symptoms and rumination; and most of FFMQ mindfulness components with attentional control measure.” After MBSR training, however, there was a network reorganization such that the three paths disappeared and were replaced by two paths, psychopathological and adaptive.

 

Centrality measures in the network analysis indicated that both prior to and after MBSR training the most central, fundamental, and interrelated components were all facets of mindfulness and all well-being measures. In addition, Community Analysis revealed that mindfulness, compassion, and emotional regulation were the most highly associated components.

 

The results are complex but suggest that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training reorganizes the associations of psychological variables, simplifying them into two categories representing distress and adaptation. The training may help the individual see the interrelationships of the problems they have and the solutions employed. The results further suggest, not surprisingly, that mindfulness, compassion, and emotion regulation are central to the benefits of mindfulness training. Many other benefits flow from these.

 

So, improve psychological functioning with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction . . . Participants experienced significant decreases in perceived stress, depression, anxiety, emotional dysregulation, and post-traumatic stress symptoms.” – Carolyn McManus

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Roca, P., Diez, G. G., Castellanos, N., & Vazquez, C. (2019). Does mindfulness change the mind? A novel psychonectome perspective based on Network Analysis. PloS one, 14(7), e0219793. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0219793

 

Abstract

If the brain is a complex network of functionally specialized areas, it might be expected that mental representations could also behave in a similar way. We propose the concept of ‘psychonectome’ to formalize the idea of psychological constructs forming a dynamic network of mutually dependent elements. As a proof-of-concept of the psychonectome, networks analysis (NA) was used to explore structural changes in the network of constructs resulting from a psychological intervention. NA was applied to explore the effects of an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program in healthy participants (N = 182). Psychological functioning was measured by questionnaires assessing five key domains related to MBSR: mindfulness, compassion, psychological well-being, psychological distress and emotional-cognitive control. A total of 25 variables, covering the five constructs, were considered as nodes in the NA. Participants significantly improved in most of the psychological questionnaires. More interesting from a network perspective, there were also significant changes in the topological relationships among the elements. Expected influence and strength centrality indexes revealed that mindfulness and well-being measures were the most central nodes in the networks. The nodes with highest topological change after the MBSR were attentional control, compassion measures, depression and thought suppression. Also, cognitive appraisal, an adaptive emotion regulation strategy, was associated to rumination before the MBSR program but became related to mindfulness and well-being measures after the program. Community analysis revealed a strong topological association between mindfulness, compassion, and emotional regulation, which supports the key role of compassion in mindfulness training. These results highlight the importance of exploring psychological changes from a network perspective and support the conceptual advantage of considering the interconnectedness of psychological constructs in terms of a ‘psychonectome’ as it may reveal ways of functioning that cannot be analyzed through conventional analytic methods.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6638953/

 

Improve Thinking in Adolescents with Yoga Practice

Improve Thinking in Adolescents with Yoga Practice

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Yoga is like music. The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul creates the symphony of life.” B.K.S. Iyengar

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness. The acceptance of yoga practice has spread from the home and yoga studios to its application with children in schools. Studies of these school programs have found that yoga practice produces a wide variety of positive emotional, psychosocial, and physical benefits.

Teachers also note improvements in their students following yoga practice. These include improved classroom behavior, social–emotional, and cognitive skills. In addition, school records, academic tests, and physiological measures have shown that yoga practice produces improvements in student grades and academic performance.

 

To better understand the effects of yoga practice on adolescents it is important to take into consideration that yoga is a not only a mindfulness practice, but it is also a physical exercise. It is important to compare yoga practice in schools to other forms of physical exercise to determine if yoga produces its benefits because of improved mindfulness or because of the physical exercise provided.

 

In today’s Research News article “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6521753/), Vhavle and colleagues recruited adolescents and randomly assigned them to participate in school in 1-hour daily practice for 2 months of either yoga or physical exercise. They were measured before and after training for executive function, cognition, attention, visual scanning, and memory with a numerical and an alphabetical trail making test.

 

All participants had fast times in completing the trail making tests indicating high levels of ability. The researchers found that both groups took significantly longer after training than before for the numerical trail making test. Only the yoga group took a significantly shorter time to complete the alphabetical trail making test after training than before and this was significantly different from the exercise group.

 

The numerical trail making test emphasizes visual scanning and cognitive function. The scores were very fast and so all of the students were very adept at this test. Hence, there may have been a ceiling effects making it impossible to detect further improvements. On the other hand, the alphabetical trail making test measures executive function, attention, and working memory and yoga practice produced significant improvement s in performance. These results then, suggests that school-based yoga practice may enhance adolescents’ thinking skills better than physical exercise. This suggests that the mindfulness component and not the exercise component of yoga practice is the most important aspect of the practice for the improvement of thinking ability in the youths.

 

So, improve thinking in adolescents with yoga practice.

 

Studies also show that exercise facilitates children’s executive function (i.e., processes required to select, organize, and properly initiate goal-directed actions) by increasing activation in the prefrontal cortex and serotonergic system. By integrating physical movement with breathing exercises and mindful awareness, yoga serves as a promising form of physical and cognitive training to enhance learning-related outcomes.” – Yoga4Classrooms

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Vhavle, S. P., Rao, R. M., & Manjunath, N. K. (2019). Comparison of Yoga versus Physical Exercise on Executive Function, Attention, and Working Memory in Adolescent Schoolchildren: A Randomized Controlled Trial. International journal of yoga, 12(2), 172–173. doi:10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_61_18

 

Abstract

Purpose:

Executive function, attention, and memory are an important indicator of cognitive health in children. In this study, we analyze the effect of yoga and physical exercise on executive functioning, attention, and memory.

Methods:

In this prospective two-armed randomized controlled trial, around 802 students from ten schools across four districts were randomized to receive daily 1 h yoga training (n = 411) or physical exercise (n = 391) for 2 months. Executive function, attention, and memory were studied using Trail Making Test (TMT). Yoga (n = 377) and physical exercise (n = 371) students contributed data to the analyses. The data were analyzed using intention-to-treat approach using Student’s t-test.

Results:

There was a significant increase in numerical TMT (TMTN) values within yoga (t = −2.17; P < 0.03) and physical activity (PA) (t = −3.37; P < 0.001) groups following interventional period. However, there was no significant change in TMTN between yoga and PA groups (t = 0.44; P = 0.66). There was a significant increase in alphabetical TMT (TMTA) values within yoga (t = 6.21; P < 0.00) and PA groups (t = 1.19; P < 0.234) following interventional period. However, there was no significant change in TMTA between yoga and PA groups (t = 3.46; P = 0.001).

Conclusion:

The results suggest that yoga improves executive function, attention, and working memory as effectively as physical exercise intervention in adolescent schoolchildren.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6521753/

 

Reduce Psychological Distress Produced by Critical Thinking with Mindfulness

Reduce Psychological Distress Produced by Critical Thinking with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The most active form of developing critical thinking is through meditation. Meditation makes you exercise control of mind over matter. Your mind becomes an active place for several activities such as: cleansing of mind from rubbish which may lead to wrong actions and decisions; accepting healthy thoughts into the cleansed mind; and letting the good ideas come to work and change the way you think.” – Operation Meditation

 

We tend to believe that the ability to think critically is a major positive characteristic that should be trained. For intellectual tasks this is probably true. But in the emotional realm, critical thinking might actually be negative and lead to greater emotional distress. Disordered, self-critical, thinking is associated with a variety of mental illnesses. This form of thinking can produce cognitive distortions that consist of dysfunctional reasoning including arbitrary inference, false dichotomy, selective abstraction, and overgeneralization. Mindfulness has been shown to improve thought processes and also the individual’s ability to regulate their emotions. So, mindfulness may counteract the negative emotional consequences of critical thinking.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Moderating Effect of Mindfulness on the Mediated Relation Between Critical Thinking and Psychological Distress via Cognitive Distortions Among Adolescents.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6606771/), Su and Shum recruited high school seniors and had them complete measures of anxiety, depression, cognitive distortions, mindfulness, and critical thinking. They then subjected these measures to regression analysis.

 

They found that the higher the levels of cognitive distortions the higher the levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, and lower levels of mindfulness. In other words, psychological distress (anxiety, depression, and stress) were associated with faulty thinking. They then performed linear structural modelling and found that critical thinking was associated with psychological distress directly and indirectly by being associated with cognitive distortions which is, in turn, is associated with psychological distress. They found that mindfulness moderates the relationship between critical thinking and psychological distress. It does so by being related to lower cognitive distortions and by being related to lower psychological distress.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that having high critical thinking can lead to distorted thinking that can, in turn, lead to greater anxiety, depression, and stress. This faulty thinking may be related to thinking about the self, being overly critical of the self and thereby producing psychological problems. The results also suggest that mindfulness can to some extent blunt this process by making it less likely that distorted thinking will develop and also by directly reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. Hence, mindfulness may allow for critical thinking without producing psychological distress.

 

So, reduce psychological distress produced by critical thinking with mindfulness.

 

The capacity to be mindful is associated with higher well-being in daily life.” – David Creswell

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Michael Ronald Su, Kathy Kar-man Shum. The Moderating Effect of Mindfulness on the Mediated Relation Between Critical Thinking and Psychological Distress via Cognitive Distortions Among Adolescents. Front Psychol. 2019; 10: 1455. Published online 2019 Jun 26. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01455

 

Abstract

Critical thinking has been widely regarded as an indispensable cognitive skill in the 21st century. However, its associations with the affective aspects of psychological functioning are not well understood. This study explored the interrelations between trait mindfulness, critical thinking, cognitive distortions, and psychological distress using a moderated mediation model. The sample comprised 287 senior secondary school students (57% male and 43% female) aged 14–19 from a local secondary school in Hong Kong. The results revealed that high critical thinking was significantly associated with high levels of psychological distress when mindful awareness was low among adolescents. Trait mindfulness was found to moderate the indirect effects of critical thinking on psychological distress via cognitive distortions as the mediator. Specifically, in low trait mindfulness conditions, critical thinking was found to associate positively with cognitive distortions and psychological distress. Such associations were not observed in high trait mindfulness conditions. The findings reveal that though critical thinking has positive associations with cognitive functioning, its associations with affective well-being might be negative. The results also suggest that mindfulness might play an important role in preventing the possible psychological distress associated with critical thinking. Educational implications relating to the fostering of critical thinking and mindful awareness are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6606771/

Improve Attentional Monitoring of Others Emotions with Mindfulness

Improve Attentional Monitoring of Others Emotions with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“experience with mindfulness meditation is associated with distinct reactions to emotional provocations in attention and social decision-making tasks, and have implications for understanding the relationship between mindfulness meditation and emotion regulation.” – Deidre Reis

 

Mindfulness practice has been shown to improve emotion regulation. Practitioners demonstrate the ability to fully sense and experience emotions, but respond to them in more appropriate and adaptive ways. In other words, mindful people are better able to experience yet control their responses to emotions. The ability of mindfulness training to improve emotion regulation is thought to be the basis for a wide variety of benefits that mindfulness provides to mental health and the treatment of mental illness especially depression and anxiety disorders.

 

There is evidence that mindfulness training improves emotion regulation by altering the brain. A common method to study the activity of the nervous system is to measure the electrical signal at the scalp above brain regions. Changes in this activity are measurable with mindfulness training. One method to observe emotional processing in the brain is to measure the changes in the electrical activity that occur in response to specific emotional stimuli. These are called event-related potentials or ERPs. The signal following a stimulus changes over time.

 

The fluctuations of the signal after specific periods of time are thought to measure different aspects of the nervous system’s processing of the stimulus. The N200 response in the evoked potential (ERP) is a negative going electrical response occurring between a 2.0 to 3.5 tenths of a second following the target stimulus presentation. The N200 component is thought to reflect attentional monitoring of conflict. The P300 response in the evoked potential (ERP) is a positive going electrical response occurring between a 3.5 to 6.0 tenths of a second following the target stimulus presentation. The P300 component is thought to reflect inhibitory processes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Brief mindfulness training enhances cognitive control in socioemotional contexts: Behavioral and neural evidence.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6641506/), Quaglia and colleagues recruited healthy adults and randomly assigned them to receive 4 20-minute sessions of either mindfulness training or book listening. They were measured before and after training for mindfulness and were tested with an emotional go no-go task in which they were asked to press a button when a picture of a face was presented that expressed a particular emotion and not respond to faces with other emotions. The pictures were of faces expression either anger, happiness, or neutral emotions. During the task the brain electrical activity was recorded with an electroencephalograph (EEG).

 

They found, as expected, that the group receiving mindfulness training, in comparison to the book listening group, had significantly higher mindfulness following training. They found that the mindfulness group, after training had significantly better scores, including both speed and accuracy, for facial emotion discrimination than the control group. With the evoked potentials, they found that on no-go trials, trials where the target facial emotion was not present. The mindfulness trained participants had significantly larger N200 amplitudes than the controls.

 

These results suggest that mindfulness training makes the individual more sensitive to emotional expressions by others. The evoked potentials in the EEGs suggest that mindfulness training did this by enhancing the brain’s ability to pay attention and monitor conflict allowing the individual to better withhold responses when appropriate. This could, in part, explain the improvement of emotion regulation with mindfulness training and may be the basis for the prior findings that mindfulness training improves responding in social contexts.

 

So, improve attentional monitoring of others emotions with mindfulness.

 

“our cognitive structures, as a developmental system, have the capacity to advance to a higher (more accurate) level of understanding about social and psychological reality, as the result of learning from the interacting experiences.” – Key Sun

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Quaglia, J. T., Zeidan, F., Grossenbacher, P. G., Freeman, S. P., Braun, S. E., Martelli, A., … Brown, K. W. (2019). Brief mindfulness training enhances cognitive control in socioemotional contexts: Behavioral and neural evidence. PloS one, 14(7), e0219862. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0219862

 

Abstract

In social contexts, the dynamic nature of others’ emotions places unique demands on attention and emotion regulation. Mindfulness, characterized by heightened and receptive moment-to-moment attending, may be well-suited to meet these demands. In particular, mindfulness may support more effective cognitive control in social situations via efficient deployment of top-down attention. To test this, a randomized controlled study examined effects of mindfulness training (MT) on behavioral and neural (event-related potentials [ERPs]) responses during an emotional go/no-go task that tested cognitive control in the context of emotional facial expressions that tend to elicit approach or avoidance behavior. Participants (N = 66) were randomly assigned to four brief (20 min) MT sessions or to structurally equivalent book learning control sessions. Relative to the control group, MT led to improved discrimination of facial expressions, as indexed by d-prime, as well as more efficient cognitive control, as indexed by response time and accuracy, and particularly for those evidencing poorer discrimination and cognitive control at baseline. MT also produced better conflict monitoring of behavioral goal-prepotent response tendencies, as indexed by larger No-Go N200 ERP amplitudes, and particularly so for those with smaller No-Go amplitude at baseline. Overall, findings are consistent with MT’s potential to enhance deployment of early top-down attention to better meet the unique cognitive and emotional demands of socioemotional contexts, particularly for those with greater opportunity for change. Findings also suggest that early top-down attention deployment could be a cognitive mechanism correspondent to the present-oriented attention commonly used to explain regulatory benefits of mindfulness more broadly.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6641506/

 

Improve Children and Adolescents Mental Health with Mindfulness

Improve Children and Adolescents Mental Health with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In the last few years mindfulness has emerged as a way of treating children and adolescents with conditions ranging from ADHD to anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, depression and stress. And the benefits are proving to be tremendous.” – Julianne Garey

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This occurs almost without any intervention from the adults as the child appears to be programmed to learn. It is here that behaviors, knowledge, skills, and attitudes are developed that shape the individual.

 

Adolescence is a time of mental, physical, social, and emotional growth. It is during this time that higher levels of thinking, sometimes called executive function, develops. But adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required.

 

Mindfulness training for children and adolescents has been shown to have very positive effects. These include academic, cognitive, psychological, and social domains. Mindfulness training has been shown to improve emotion regulation and to benefit the psychological and emotional health of adolescents. Importantly, mindfulness training with children and adolescents appears to improve the self-conceptimproves attentional ability and reduces stress. The research findings and evidence are accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and review and summarize what has been learned regarding the effectiveness of mindfulness training for the cognitive growth and mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Research Review: The effects of mindfulness-based interventions on cognition and mental health in children and adolescents – a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6546608/), Dunning and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of the effects of mindfulness training on the cognitive ability, psychological health, and well-being of children and adolescents. They identified 33 published randomized controlled trials, 17 of which had active control conditions.

 

They found that over all published studies, mindfulness training resulted in improved cognition and executive function, with larger effects for older children and adolescents. Mindfulness training also produced significantly increased mindfulness and decreased negative behaviors, stress, anxiety and depression. increased mindfulness and decreased stress, anxiety and depression were still significant. But when mindfulness practices were compared to active control conditions cognitive improvements were no longer significant but there were still significant increases in mindfulness and decreases in stress, anxiety and depression.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that mindfulness training produces significant improvements in the mental health of children and adolescents. The results, however, suggest that reported improvements in cognition and behavior may be due to placebo or experimenter bias effects as these same improvements occurred with active control conditions. The improvements in cognitive ability appears to be maximized in adolescents when high level executive functions are developing. The lack of significant effects in studies with active control conditions may have been due to the small number of studies, 7, that had active controls and studied cognition.

 

Regardless, the accumulated research suggests that training children and adolescents in mindfulness may help them navigate the difficult emotional challenges confronting them during development.

 

So, improve children and adolescents’ mental health with mindfulness.

 

“For children, mindfulness can offer relief from whatever difficulties they might be encountering in life. It also gives them the beauty of being in the present moment.” – Annaka Harris

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Dunning, D. L., Griffiths, K., Kuyken, W., Crane, C., Foulkes, L., Parker, J., & Dalgleish, T. (2019). Research Review: The effects of mindfulness-based interventions on cognition and mental health in children and adolescents – a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines, 60(3), 244–258. doi:10.1111/jcpp.12980

 

Abstract

Background

Mindfulness based interventions (MBIs) are an increasingly popular way of attempting to improve the behavioural, cognitive and mental health outcomes of children and adolescents, though there is a suggestion that enthusiasm has moved ahead of the evidence base. Most evaluations of MBIs are either uncontrolled or nonrandomized trials. This meta-analysis aims to establish the efficacy of MBIs for children and adolescents in studies that have adopted a randomized, controlled trial (RCT) design.

Methods

A systematic literature search of RCTs of MBIs was conducted up to October 2017. Thirty-three independent studies including 3,666 children and adolescents were included in random effects meta-analyses with outcome measures categorized into cognitive, behavioural and emotional factors. Separate random effects meta-analyses were completed for the seventeen studies (n = 1,762) that used an RCT design with an active control condition.

Results

Across all RCTs we found significant positive effects of MBIs, relative to controls, for the outcome categories of Mindfulness, Executive Functioning, Attention, Depression, Anxiety/Stress and Negative Behaviours, with small effect sizes (Cohen’s d), ranging from .16 to .30. However, when considering only those RCTs with active control groups, significant benefits of an MBI were restricted to the outcomes of Mindfulness (d = .42), Depression (d = .47) and Anxiety/Stress (d = .18) only.

Conclusions

This meta-analysis reinforces the efficacy of using MBIs for improving the mental health and wellbeing of youth as assessed using the gold standard RCT methodology. Future RCT evaluations should incorporate scaled-up definitive trial designs to further evaluate the robustness of MBIs in youth, with an embedded focus on mechanisms of action.

Key points

  • Mindfulness based interventions (MBIs) are a popular way of attempting to improve the mental and physical health outcomes of children and adolescents.
  • This is the first meta-analysis of MBIs with youth composed exclusively of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) including RCTs with active control groups – the gold standard in intervention studies.
  • When using the gold standard research design results showed that MBIs are useful in improving Depression and Anxiety outcomes, but not behavioural or cognitive outcomes,
  • The meta-analysis advocates the use of MBIs for improving mental health in young people.
  • Future RCT evaluations should incorporate scaled-up definitive trial designs to further evaluate the robustness of MBIs in youth, with an embedded focus on mechanisms of action.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6546608/