Improve Psychological Well-Being of Elementary School Children with Mindfulness

Improve Psychological Well-Being of Elementary School Children with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“engaging in mindfulness meditation cultivates our ability to both focus and broaden our attention, which is a practical way to elicit psychological well-being.” – Jennifer Wolkin

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This is particularly evident during the elementary school years. Mindfulness training in school has been shown to have very positive effects. These include improvements in the cognitive, psychological, emotional and social domains. It is important to teach skills that improve well-being early in life. This can affect individuals throughout their lives. So, there is a need to further study the ability of mindfulness training to improve the well-being of elementary school students.

 

In today’s Research News article “Randomized Trial on the Effects of a Mindfulness Intervention on Temperament, Anxiety, and Depression: A Multi-Arm Psychometric Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8945710/ ) Poli and colleagues recruited 5th grade students. They were measured before and after either 8 weeks of mindfulness training or no treatment for anxiety depression, and temperament.

 

They found that mindfulness training reduced anxiety levels and inhibition to novelty and increased attention, social orientation, positive emotionality. These results suggest that mindfulness training improves the psychological well-being of elementary school children.

 

Mindfulness improves the well-being of kids.

 

mental wellbeing does not mean being happy all the time and it does not mean you won’t experience negative or painful emotions, such as grief, loss, or failure, which are a part of normal life. However, whatever your age, mindfulness can help you lead a mentally healthier life and improve your wellbeing.” – Mental Health Foundation

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Poli, A., Maremmani, A., Gemignani, A., & Miccoli, M. (2022). Randomized Trial on the Effects of a Mindfulness Intervention on Temperament, Anxiety, and Depression: A Multi-Arm Psychometric Study. Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 12(3), 74. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12030074

 

Abstract

Mindfulness is a mental state that can be achieved through meditation. So far, studies have shown that practicing mindfulness on a consistent and regular basis can improve attentional functions and emotional well-being. Mindfulness has recently begun to be used in the field of child development. The goal of this study is to assess if a mindfulness program may help primary school students in reducing anxiety and depression while also improving their temperamental characteristics. This multi-arm pre-post study included 41 subjects recruited in the fifth year of two primary school classes. Participants were randomly assigned to the experimental and control groups. The experimental group, but not the control group, underwent an eight-week mindfulness training. Every week, the program included 60-min group sessions. QUIT (Italian Questionnaires of Temperament) and TAD (Test for Anxiety and Depression in Childhood and Adolescence) were used to assess temperament, and anxiety and depression, respectively. Both groups were administered both instruments before and after mindfulness intervention. The mindfulness program lowered anxiety levels and was effective in changing temperament dimensions: there was an increase in social orientation (SO), positive emotionality (PE), and attention (AT), as well as a decrease in inhibition to novelty (IN) and negative emotionality. Path analysis revealed that AT may promote the improvement of both SO and IN. Similarly, PE may be promoted by the decrease of IN. Clinical implications are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8945710/

 

Improve Working Memory with Yogic Visual Concentration

Improve Working Memory with Yogic Visual Concentration

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika defines trataka as “looking intently with an unwavering gaze at a small point until tears are shed.” This simple technique has a purifying, invigorating effect on the mind and improves concentration, paving the way for a deeper meditation practice. “ – Natalya Podgorny

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of benefits for psychological and physical health, social, and spiritual well-being. It is both an exercise and a mind-body practice those stresses both mental attention to present moment movements, breath control, and flexibility, range of motion, and balance. There has, however, not been much attention paid to the characteristics of practice that are important for producing maximum benefits. One little researched component of some yoga practices is yogic visual concentration.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effect of Trataka (Yogic Visual Concentration) on the Performance in the Corsi-Block Tapping Task: A Repeated Measures Study.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.773049/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1796285_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211223_arts_A ) Swathi and colleagues recruited healthy university students and trained them for 20 minutes per day for 6 weeks on the yogic visual concentration technique of Trataka and also eye exercise training. Trataka involved eye exercises, viewing a candle in a dark room, and visualizing the candle flame. Eye exercises involved exercising eye movement in all planes. Training was followed by one week of no training. They then alternated practicing eye exercises or Trataka for 4 days. After the practices they were measured for memory processes with the Corsi Block Tapping task.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the eye exercise condition, after practicing yogic visual concentration (Trataka) there was significant improvements in memory, including working memory, spatial memory, and spatial attention. Using eye exercises as a comparison (control) condition reduces many possible confounding explanations and is a strength of the study, strengthening the conclusion that yogic visual concentration results in improvement of short-term nenory.

 

Mindfulness practices, including yoga, contain a number of components including practicing concentration. These practices are also known to improve memory. The present results suggest that the concentration practice is sufficient to produce improvements in short-term (working) memory. This makes sense as a prerequisite of memory is obtaining the information in the first place without interference, and this would be improved by learning to concentrate better on the task at hand.

 

So, improve working memory with yogic visual concentration.

 

The purpose of concentration techniques is to discover how to focus the mind on one point for a sustained duration. . . With dedicated practice, concentration techniques can help prevent memory loss, create clarity of thought, and promote everyday mindfulness.” – Timothy Burgin

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Swathi PS, Bhat R and Saoji AA (2021) Effect of Trataka (Yogic Visual Concentration) on the Performance in the Corsi-Block Tapping Task: A Repeated Measures Study. Front. Psychol. 12:773049. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.773049

 

Background and Objective: Attention and memory are essential aspects of cognitive health. Yogasanas, pranayama, and meditation have shown to improve cognitive functions. There has been no assessment of Trataka (yogic visual concentration) on working or on spatial memory. The present study was planned to assess the immediate effects of Trataka and of eye exercise sessions on the Corsi-block tapping task (CBTT).

Methods: A total of 41 healthy volunteers of both genders with age 23.21 ± 2.81 years were recruited. All participants underwent baseline assessment, followed by 2 weeks of training in Trataka (including eye exercise). Each training session lasted for 20 min/day for 6 days a week. After completion of the training period, a 1-week washout period was given. Each participant then was assessed in two sessions in Trataka and in eye exercise on two separate days, maintaining the same time of the day. Repeated measure analysis of variance with Holm’s adjustment was performed to check the difference between the sessions.

Results: Significant within-subjects effects were observed for forward Corsi span andforward total score (p < 0.001), and also for backward Corsi span (p < 0.05) and backward total score (p < 0.05). Post hoc analyses revealed Trataka session to be better than eye exercises and baseline. The eye exercise session did not show any significant changes in the CBTT.

Conclusion: The result suggests that Trataka session improves working memory, spatial memory, and spatial attention.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.773049/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1796285_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211223_arts_A

 

Improved Psychological Well-Being and Cognition is Reported by Adult who Engage in Microdosing of Psychedelic Substances

Improved Psychological Well-Being and Cognition is Reported by Adult who Engage in Microdosing of Psychedelic Substances

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“After a 40-year moratorium, the psychedelic renaissance has begun: rigorous scientific methods can now be used to investigate psychedelics as potential medicines and for “the betterment of well people”. – Thomas Anderson

 

Psychedelic substances such as peyote, mescaline, LSD, Bufotoxin, ayahuasca and psilocybin 

have been used almost since the beginning of recorded history to alter consciousness and produce spiritually meaningful experiences. More recently hallucinogenic drugs such as MDMA (Ecstasy) and Ketamine have been similarly used. People find the experiences produced by these substances extremely pleasant. eye opening, and even transformative. They often report that the experiences changed them forever. Psychedelics and hallucinogens have also been found to be clinically useful as they markedly improve mood, increase energy and enthusiasm and greatly improve clinical depression.

 

Recently doses of psychedelic substances that are small enough that they do not produce psychedelic effects (microdoses) have been employed repeatedly in real world settings. They have been reported to produce reductions in the symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve cognitive function, and promote social interaction. But there is little systematic research on the effects of repeated psychedelic microdosing.

 

In today’s Research News article “Psychedelic Microdosing: Prevalence and Subjective Effects.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7282936/ ) Cameron and colleagues recruited adult volunteers to complete an anonymous online survey of “Recreational Drug and Alcohol Use”. The survey requested information regarding familiarity with psychedelic microdosing. personal practices, drugs used, and any changes observed in depression, anxiety, memory, sociability, focus/attention, and physical health.

 

They found that of the 2347 respondents the majority (59%) were familiar with psychedelic microdosing but only 13 % ever practiced it and only 4% were currently practicing. LSD and Psilocybin were the most common drugs used in microdosing. Males, veterans, and less educated participants were significantly more likely to practice psychedelic microdosing.

 

In comparison to participants who did not microdose, those that did reported significantly greater reductions in depression anxiety and greater improvements in memory, attention, and sociability. Males again reported the greatest improvements. The majority of the participants who stopped microdosing attributed it to difficulty in obtaining the drugs and their legal riskiness.

 

These results were produced by an anonymous survey and there was no way to ascertain the veracity of the responses. In addition, there were no comparison to other spontaneously used drugs to determine demand characteristics or placebo effects. Hence, the results are from a self-selected sample, have strong expectancy effect, and with no objective verification of the responses. So, these results must be viewed as preliminary. Nevertheless, the findings suggest that psychedelic microdosing is viewed by those engaging in it as beneficial for their psychological well-being and cognitive ability. These are interesting results that suggest that further investigation in warranted to determine if this practicemay be useful in improving well-being.

 

So, improved psychological well-being and cognition is reported by adult who engage in microdosing of psychedelic substances.

 

We have an epidemic of mental health problems, with existing treatments that don’t work for everyone. We need to follow the lead of patients who are taking these initiatives to improve their wellbeing and reduce suffering.” – Zach Walsh

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Cameron, L. P., Nazarian, A., & Olson, D. E. (2020). Psychedelic Microdosing: Prevalence and Subjective Effects. Journal of psychoactive drugs, 52(2), 113–122. https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2020.1718250

 

Abstract

Anecdotal reports suggest that the administration of sub-hallucinogenic doses of psychedelic compounds on a chronic, intermittent schedule—a practice known as psychedelic microdosing—is becoming increasingly popular among young adults due to its purported ability to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety while improving cognitive function and promoting social interaction. Using an anonymous online survey, we collected data from 2347 people to 1) assess the prevalence of psychedelic microdosing and characterize the demographics of microdosers, 2) determine whether microdosers associate the practice with changes in mood, cognitive function, social interaction, or physiology, and 3) investigate frequent motives for discontinuing the practice. Fifty-nine percent of respondents (NT = 2183) reported familiarity with the concept of psychedelic microdosing, with 17% (383 respondents, NT=2200) having engaged in this practice. Microdosers attributed psychedelic microdosing with improving their mood, decreasing their anxiety, and enhancing their memory, attention, and sociability. The most frequently cited reasons for quitting microdosing (NT = 243) were the risks associated with taking an illegal substance (24.28%) and the difficulty of obtaining psychedelic compounds (22.63%). Overall, our findings suggest that psychedelic microdosing is relatively common and is subjectively associated with a broad spectrum of socio-affective, cognitive, and physical outcomes.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7282936/

Improve Parkinson’s Disease Psychological Symptoms with Mindfulness

Improve Parkinson’s Disease Psychological Symptoms with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“[Parkinson’s Disease] patients experience greater levels of stress than controls, and that stress worsens both motor and non-motor symptoms. Mindfulness may improve [Parkinson’s Disease] symptom severity, with the strongest effects on anxiety and depressed mood.” – Anouk van der Heide

 

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is an incurable progressive degenerative disease of the central nervous system. The condition is caused by the death of nerve cells in the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. There are around seven million people worldwide and one million people in the U.S. living with PD and about 60,000 people are diagnosed with PD every year. PD is associated with aging as the vast majority of patients are diagnosed after age 50. In fact, it has been speculated that everyone would eventually develop PD if they lived long enough.

 

Its physical symptoms include resting tremor, slow movements, muscle rigidity, problems with posture and balance, loss of automatic movements, and slurring of speech. PD itself is not fatal but is often associated with related complications which can reduce life expectancy, such as falls, choking, and cardiovascular problems. PD also has psychological effects, especially cognitive decline, anxiety, and depression. Balance is a particular problem as it effects mobility and increases the likelihood of falls, restricting activity and reducing quality of life.

 

There are no cures for Parkinson’s Disease (PD) or even treatments to slow its progression. There are only treatments that can produce symptomatic relief. So, there is a need to discover new and different treatments. Mindfulness training has been found to improve the psychological symptoms and the quality of life with PD patients. PD patients often develop an unawareness of their motor symptoms. It is not known if mindfulness training may help make the patients more aware of their symptoms.

 

In today’s Research News article “Pilot Study of Mindfulness Training on the Self-Awareness of Motor Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease – A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.763350/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1784429_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211202_arts_A ) Buchwitz and colleagues recruited otherwise healthy patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (average 64 years) and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive 8 weekly 2-hour sessions of mindfulness training tailored for Parkinson’s Disease patients. Before and after training and 8 weeks later they were measured for awareness of their motor symptoms, cognitive ability, and Parkinson’s Disease symptoms.

 

They found that there was no improvement in general cognitive ability, motor performance, or awareness of motor symptoms by either group. But the mindfulness trained group had significant improvement in mindfulness, sleep quality, attentional ability, and language performance and reductions in anxiety, apathy, and impulsivity of eating behavior.

 

The findings are similar to those of others that mindfulness training improves the psychological well-being of patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. But it did not improve motor symptoms or the awareness of those motor symptoms. This suggests that mindfulness training should be incorporated into the routine treatment program for Parkinson’s Disease patients.

 

So, improve Parkinson’s Disease psychological symptoms with mindfulness

 

 

mindfulness training for people with [Parkinson’s Disease] found significant reductions in anxiety, depression and distress about symptoms, along with improvements in memory and verbal fluency.” – Emily Delzell

 

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Buchwitz TM, Maier F, Greuel A, Thieken F, Steidel K, Jakobs V and Eggers C (2021) Pilot Study of Mindfulness Training on the Self-Awareness of Motor Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease – A Randomized Controlled Trial. Front. Psychol. 12:763350. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.763350

 

ABSTRACT

Objective: This study aims to evaluate feasibility and effects of a newly developed mindfulness intervention tailored to specific needs of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Background: The phenomenon of impaired self-awareness of motor symptoms (ISAm) in PD might be reduced by increasing patients’ mindfulness. A PD-specific mindfulness intervention has been developed and evaluated as a potential treatment option: IPSUM (“Insight into Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms by using Mindfulness”).

Methods: IPSUM’s effectiveness is evaluated by comparing an intervention with a waitlist-control group. Applying a pre-post design, patients were assessed before, directly after and 8weeks after treatment. The primary outcome was the change in a quantitative ISAm score from baseline to post-assessment. Secondary outcome measures were PD-related affective changes and neuropsychological test performance. Feasibility was evaluated via feedback forms.

Results: In total, 30 non-depressed and non-demented PD patients were included (intervention: n=14, waitlist-control: n=16). ISAm score did not change significantly, but the training group showed greater performance in sustained attention and language tasks over time. Additional changes included greater mindfulness as well as less sleeping problems and anxiety. Cognitive disturbances, apathy, and sleeping problems worsened only in the waitlist-control group. Patients’ feedback regarding the training concept and material was excellent.

Conclusion: Insight into Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms by using Mindfulness has not been capable of reducing ISAm in PD patients but appears to be a feasible and effective concept to, among others, support mental health in the mid-term. It has to be noted though that the study was stopped beforehand because of the SARS CoV-2 pandemic. The lack of findings might therefore be caused by a lack of statistical power. The need for further research to better understand the mechanisms of ISAm and its connection to mindfulness in PD is highlighted.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.763350/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1784429_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211202_arts_A

 

Improve Cognitive and Socio-Emotional Skills in Children with Mindfulness

Improve Cognitive and Socio-Emotional Skills in Children with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Teaching mindfulness to kids can also help shape three critical skills developed in early childhood: paying attention and remembering information, shifting back and forth between tasks, and behaving appropriately with others.” – Christopher Willard

 

Childhood is a miraculous period during which the child is dynamically absorbing information from every aspect of its environment. This is particularly evident during the elementary school years. Mindfulness training in school has been shown to have very positive effects. These include improvements in the cognitive, psychological, emotional and social domains. Importantly, mindfulness training in school appears to improve attentional ability which is fundamental to success in all aspects of academic performance. The research evidence has been accumulating. So, there is a need to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Exploring the Effects of Meditation Techniques Used by Mindfulness-Based Programs on the Cognitive, Social-Emotional, and Academic Skills of Children: A Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.660650/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1778822_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211123_arts_A ) Filipe and colleagues review and summarize the published controlled research studies on the effects of mindfulness training on 6-12 year old children. They found 29 published research articles.

 

They report that the published research found that mindfulness training produced significant improvements in the children’s cognitive skills, including overall executive functions, attention, concentration, inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, and immediate auditory-verbal memory. They also found that there were significant improvements in socio-emotional skills, including stress, wellbeing, mindfulness, self-esteem, resilience, psychological happiness, empathy, perspective-taking, emotional control, optimism, depression, internalizing problems, peer aggression, prosocial behavior, peer acceptance, anxiety, self-control, self-regulation, mental health problems, quality of life, self-compassion, acceptance, relaxation, happiness, aggressive behaviors, and social competence. But only one of the 29 studies reported improvements in academic skills.

 

The published research makes a strong case for the effectiveness of mindfulness training to improve the cognitive and socio-emotional skills on children. But there is little evidence for improvement in academic performance. Unfortunately, only 9 of the 29 studies employed strong research designs (randomized controlled trails). So, there is a need for further research with high quality research designs. Nevertheless, the consistency and magnitude of the findings suggest robust positive effects of mindfulness trainings on a myriad of cognitive, social, and emotional skills in children. These are important benefits for these developing humans that may have important contributions to their growth and well-being, perhaps eventually making them better adults. As such, mindfulness training should be incorporated into the school curriculum.

 

So, improve cognitive and socio-emotional skills in children 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 available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Filipe MG, Magalhães S, Veloso AS, Costa AF, Ribeiro L, Araújo P, Castro SL and Limpo T (2021) Exploring the Effects of Meditation Techniques Used by Mindfulness-Based Programs on the Cognitive, Social-Emotional, and Academic Skills of Children: A Systematic Review. Front. Psychol. 12:660650. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.660650

 

There is evidence for the positive impact of mindfulness in children. However, little is known about the techniques through which mindfulness practice results in differential outcomes. Therefore, this study intended to systematically review the available evidence about the efficacy of meditation techniques used by mindfulness-based programs on cognitive, socio-emotional, and academic skills of children from 6 to 12 years of age. The review was registered on the PROSPERO database, and the literature search was conducted according to PICO criteria and PRISMA guidelines. The EBSCO databases were searched, and 29 studies were eligible: nine randomized controlled trials and 20 quasi-experimental studies. All the included randomized controlled trials were rated as having a high risk of bias. Overall, the evidence for mindfulness techniques improving cognitive and socio-emotional skills was reasonably strong. Specifically, for cognitive skills, results showed that all the interventions used “body-centered meditations” and “mindful observations.” Regarding socio-emotional skills, although all the studies applied “body-centered meditations” and “mindful observations,” “affect-centered meditations” were also frequent. For academic skills, just one quasi-experimental trial found improvements, thus making it difficult to draw conclusions. Further research is crucial to evaluate the unique effects of different meditation techniques on the cognitive, social-emotional, and academic skills of children.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.660650/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1778822_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211123_arts_A

Mindfulness Improves Cognitive Function in Older Adults by Altering Brain Gene Expression

Mindfulness Improves Cognitive Function in Older Adults by Altering Brain Gene Expression

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness may target inflammation, stress-related pathways, and neuroplasticity, thus reducing the risk of developing cerebrovascular disease and age-related neurodegeneration that could lead to the development of dementia.” – Ted Kheng Siang Ng

 

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 abilities, 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 meditation have been found to degenerate less with aging than non-practitioners. The mechanisms by which mindfulness affects the brain and reduces cognitive decline need to be investigated.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness intervention improves cognitive function in older adults by enhancing the level of miRNA-29c in neuron-derived extracellular vesicles.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8575875/ ) Hashizume and colleagues recruited healthy elderly adults aged 65 and over and administered either 4 weeks , 3 times per week for 60 minutes of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or a no-treatment wait-list condition. They were measured before and after treatment for cognitive function including delayed recall, visuospatial/executive function, attention, abstraction, language, naming, and orientation tasks. They also had blood drawn and assayed for extracellular vesicles and mRNA in the vesicles.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait list control, after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) there were significant improvement in cognitive function including delayed recall, visuospatial/executive function, attention, naming, and orientation tasks. The blood assays revealed that in comparison to baseline and the wait list control, after MBSR there were significant reductions in miR-29c in the extracellular vesicles and decreased expression of the genes DNMT3A, DNMT3B, and BACE1 in in the extracellular vesicles. In another study with mice they found that injection into the brain ventricles of miR-29c prevented cognitive decline in the animals.

 

The results suggest that mindfulness training improves cognitive function in the elderly. These improvements in cognition have been previously observed by other researchers. The new findings in the present research are the changes in the extracellular vesicles found in the plasma. The expression of the mRNA miR-29c controls the gene expressions of DNMT3A, DNMT3B, and BACE1. These genes are associated with the loss of neurons in the brain. With aging there is a degeneration of the brain including losses of neurons. Reductions in the expression of the genes that tend to produce neuronal loss after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) suggests that the training protects the brain from the loss of neurons. This may represent the mechanism by which mindfulness training protects the brain in aging individual which results in improved cognitive function. It may be how mindfulness training stops cognitive decline in the elderly.

 

So, mindfulness improves cognitive function in older adults by altering brain gene expression.

 

an 8-week mindfulness-based training program improved cognition . . . in cognitively normal older adults, and that these improvements were associated with increased intrinsic connectivity within the default mode network.” – Gunes Sevinc

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Hashizume, S., Nakano, M., Kubota, K., Sato, S., Himuro, N., Kobayashi, E., Takaoka, A., & Fujimiya, M. (2021). Mindfulness intervention improves cognitive function in older adults by enhancing the level of miRNA-29c in neuron-derived extracellular vesicles. Scientific reports, 11(1), 21848. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-01318-y

 

Abstract

Although mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) improves cognitive function, the mechanism is not clear. In this study, people aged 65 years and older were recruited from elderly communities in Chitose City, Japan, and assigned to a non-MBSR group or a MBSR group. Before and after the intervention, the Japanese version of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA-J) was administered, and blood samples were collected. Then, neuron-derived extracellular vesicles (NDEVs) were isolated from blood samples, and microRNAs, as well as the target mRNAs, were evaluated in NDEVs. A linear mixed model analysis showed significant effects of the MBSR x time interaction on the MoCA-J scores, the expression of miRNA(miR)-29c, DNA methyltransferase 3 alpha (DNMT3A), and DNMT3B in NDEVs. These results indicate that MBSR can improve cognitive function by increasing the expression of miR-29c and decreasing the expression of DNMT3A, as well as DNMT3B, in neurons. It was also found that intracerebroventricular injection of miR-29c mimic into 5xFAD mice prevented cognitive decline, as well as neuronal loss in the subiculum area, by down-regulating Dnmt3a  and Dnmt3b  in the hippocampus. The present study suggests that MBSR can prevent neuronal loss and cognitive impairment by increasing the neuronal expression of miR-29c.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8575875/

 

Mindfulness is Associated with a Reduced Tendency to Ostracize

Mindfulness is Associated with a Reduced Tendency to Ostracize

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“adults scoring higher on trait mindfulness reported ostracizing coworkers less [and] demonstrated greater inclusion of a fellow group member being ostracized by others in the group.“ – Eric Jones

 

Humans are social animals. This is a great asset for the species as the effort of the individual is amplified by cooperation. In primitive times, this cooperation was essential for survival. But in modern times it is also essential, not for survival but rather for making a living and for the happiness of the individual. This deep need for positive social interactions heightens the pain of social rejection and ostracism. “Ostracism, or being excluded and ignored, is a detrimental experience for the target of ostracism because it harms the target’s relational needs of belonging, self-esteem, meaningful existence, and control, along with worsening the target’s mood.”

 

Mindfulness has been found to increase prosocial behaviors such as altruism, compassion and empathy and reduce antisocial behaviors such as violence and aggression. So, it is likely that mindfulness may affect the individual’s tendency to reject and ostracize others.

 

In today’s Research News article “Who Is Less Likely to Ostracize? Higher Trait Mindfulness Predicts More Inclusionary Behavior.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8277536/ ) Jones and colleagues studied the relationship of mindfulness to ostracism in 3 studies. For all studies they recruited healthy adult workers online.

 

In the first study they had them complete measures of mindfulness, perceived ostracism, perceived stress, and instigation of ostracism. They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of perceived ostracism, perceived stress, and instigation of ostracism. So, mindful workers are more sensitive to ostracism in the workplace and less likely to be involved in ostracism.

 

In the second study they had the participants play a simulated ball tossing game, Cyberball, where they tossed a ball to 3 other participants who were simulated did not exist other than in the program. In one condition the ball was tossed to all participants equally and in the ostracism condition one simulated participant had the ball tossed to them initially but then never again from anyone except the real participant who could toss the ball to the ostracized participant if they chose. They found that the higher the level of participant mindfulness the greater the proportion of simulated ball tosses were directed to the simulated “ostracized” participant. Neither empathy, personal distress, nor the other motives were found to mediate the effects of mindfulness.

 

In the third study they again had the participants play Cyberball with an ostracized simulated participant. There were 2 conditions in that the participants were either instructed at the beginning to pay attention to the other players or did not receive the attention instruction. They found that the attention instruction increased the percentage of tosses directed to the simulated “ostracized” participant. In the attention instruction condition the effects of mindfulness disappeared.

 

The results suggest that high trait mindfulness is associated with less ostracizing of others in their work environments. The simulated ball tossing results suggested that mindfulness is also associated with lower ostracizing in artificial simulated conditions. But when an attention instruction is included the association with mindfulness goes away. This suggests that mindfulness results in a participant paying more attention to others around them and this produces a lowered tendency to ostracize others.

 

Ostracism is extremely harmful to individuals. So, methods to reduce ostracism are socially important. The results suggest that mindfulness may be an effective tool in countering ostracism by making individuals more attentive to others. It remains for future research to determine if training in mindfulness can reduce ostracism.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with a reduced tendency to ostracize.

 

dispositional mindfulness predicted greater empathic concern for, and more helping behavior toward, an ostracized stranger [and] also promoted prosocial responsiveness to an ostracized stranger.“ – Daniel Berry

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Jones, E. E., Wirth, J. H., Ramsey, A. T., & Wynsma, R. L. (2019). Who Is Less Likely to Ostracize? Higher Trait Mindfulness Predicts More Inclusionary Behavior. Personality & social psychology bulletin, 45(1), 105–119. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167218780698

 

Abstract

Despite the pain ostracism (being excluded and ignored) causes, researchers have minimally investigated factors related to reducing its occurrence. We investigated the association between higher trait mindfulness (the tendency to be attentive to the present moment) and lower engagement in ostracism. In Study 1, employed adults scoring higher on trait mindfulness reported ostracizing coworkers less. In Study 2, participants possessing higher levels of trait mindfulness demonstrated greater inclusion of a fellow group member being ostracized by others in the group. Results suggested that attention, rather than empathy, was the psychological process responsible for greater inclusion of an ostracized group member by mindful individuals. Study 3 supported this conclusion, because participants responded similarly to those high in trait mindfulness when they were instructed to pay attention and ensure all players were included equally. Overall, we found that people with higher levels of trait mindfulness are more attentive to targets of ostracism.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8277536/

 

Increase Physiological and Psychological Activation and Calmness with Qigong

Increase Physiological and Psychological Activation and Calmness with Qigong

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

regular [qigong] practice may help improve your balance, ease stress and anxiety, sharpen focus, and reduce your risk of chronic disease.” – Saundra Montijo

 

Qigong has been practiced for thousands of years with benefits for health and longevityQigong training is designed to enhance function and regulate the activities of the body through regulated breathing, mindful concentration, and gentle movements. Only recently though have the effects of these practices been scrutinized with empirical research. This research has found that they are effective for an array of physical and psychological issues.

 

In today’s Research News article “Relaxation or Regulation: The Acute Effect of Mind-Body Exercise on Heart Rate Variability and Subjective State in Experienced Qi Gong Practitioners.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8208883/ ) Goldbeck and colleagues recruited experienced adult Qigong practitioners and measured their heat rate variability with the electrocardiogram (ECG) while at rest, during 2 10-minute sessions of qigong practice, and at rest again. Before and after the practices they completed measures of vitality, calmness, deep relaxation, meditative focus, and heightened body awareness.

 

They found that after the 10-minute qigong practices there were significant increases in vitality, calmness, pleasant body sensation, focused attention, body awareness, and perceived body activation. In addition, during the qigong sessions there was a significant decrease in heart rate variability. A decrease in heart rate variability is indicative of increased physiological activation (sympathetic nervous system activation).

 

The results are interesting and suggest that experienced qigong practitioners experience increases in both psychological and physiological activation in association with feelings of calmness during engagement in the practice. The physiological arousal is suggestive of the aerobic exercise component of qigong. It is interesting that calmness increased in synchrony with increased vitality and perceived body activation. This is suggestive of a state of “eutonic calmness” wherein activity is associated with pleasant calm feelings which has been postulated to be characteristic of mind-body exercises.

 

So, increase physiological and psychological activation and calmness with qigong.

 

a little bit of regular practice, Qigong can have a powerful effect on mind, body and spirit. Reported benefits have included increased general health and well being, reduced levels of stress, and a brighter and more balanced outlook on life’s possibilities.” – Mei Quan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Goldbeck, F., Xie, Y. L., Hautzinger, M., Fallgatter, A. J., Sudeck, G., & Ehlis, A. C. (2021). Relaxation or Regulation: The Acute Effect of Mind-Body Exercise on Heart Rate Variability and Subjective State in Experienced Qi Gong Practitioners. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2021, 6673190. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/6673190

 

Abstract

Mind-body exercises such as Yoga or Qi Gong have demonstrated a wide range of health benefits and hold great promise for employment in clinical practice. However, the psychophysiological mechanism underlying these effects remains unclear. Theoretical frameworks highlight regulation as a characteristic and specific mechanism of mind-body exercise for which empirical evidence is scarce. To investigate the exact nature of this mechanism, we tracked acute changes in autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity and subjective state over a common form of mind-body exercise (Qi Gong). Heart rate variability (HRV) and subjective state were assessed in 42 Qi Gong practitioners from China and Germany during a standard moving Qi Gong exercise (Baduanjin). Relaxation in supine position prior and after the exercise served as a control condition to Qi Gong and to assess changes before and after the exercise. Following Qi Gong, all practitioners reported significantly increased subjective calmness and perceived body activation, attentional focus, and subjective vitality. On the physiological level, a significant decrease of parasympathetic modulation and increase in heart rate indicated a pattern of moderate general physiological activation during Qi Gong. A significant increase in overall RR-interval modulation and cardiac coherence during Qi Gong were indicative of a mechanism of active regulation. Examination of the RR-interval trajectories revealed a rhythmic pattern of ANS activation and deactivation in sync with activating and relaxing segments of the exercise. Significant changes in subjective state, not on the physiological level, before and after the exercise were observed. Significant associations between Qi-Gong-specific beliefs, age, cultural background, and experiential and physiological measures demonstrated the complexity of mind-body exercises as multicomponent interventions. Overall, this study highlights moderate general physiological activation, exercise-dependent rhythmic ANS modulation, and induction of a characteristic state of eutonic calmness as potential psychophysiological mechanisms underlying the health benefits of mind-body exercise.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8208883/

 

Mindfulness Traits May Affect the Ability of Brief Meditation to Improve Attention

Mindfulness Traits May Affect the Ability of Brief Meditation to Improve Attention

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“even relatively short daily meditation practice can have similar behavioral effects as longer duration and higher-intensity mediation practices.” – Julia Basso

 

One of the primary effects of mindfulness training is an improvement in the ability to pay attention to the task at hand and ignore interfering stimuli. This is an important consequence of mindfulness training and produces improvements in thinking, reasoning, and creativity. The importance of heightened attentional ability to the individual’s ability to navigate the demands of complex modern life cannot be overstated. It helps in school, at work, in relationships, or simply driving a car. As important as attention is, it’s surprising that little is known about the how much meditation and what types of meditation work best to improve attention

 

In today’s Research News article “Individual Differences in the Change of Attentional Functions With Brief One-Time Focused Attention and Open Monitoring Meditations.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.716138/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1765474_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211102_arts_A ) Tanaka and colleagues recruited university students and randomly assigned them to no-meditation, focused meditation, or open monitoring meditation. The participants were measured for mindfulness, and attentional functions (alerting, orienting, and conflict monitoring). They then spent 30 minutes either listening to music, focused meditation, or open monitoring meditation followed by measurement of attentional functions.

 

They found that before and after the 30-minute interventions there were no significant differences in attentional functions or mindfulness between the groups. But they found that individual differences in mindfulness affected the effects of the interventions on the alerting attentional function. In particular, employing stepwise multiple regressions, that for participants who practiced focused meditation the higher the nonreactivity mindfulness score the smaller the change in the alerting score. In addition, for participants who practiced open monitoring meditation the higher the describing mindfulness score the larger the change in the alerting score.

 

It has been previously demonstrated that mindfulness training over a period of time improves attention. The present findings, though, show that a brief, one-time meditation, regardless of type, is not sufficient to improve attention. This suggests that attentional improvement requires repeated meditation practices. The results also suggest that people with different levels of mindfulness may respond differently to meditation affecting attention. There were, however, multiple comparisons (45) involved here and only 2 were significantly different. This could occur be chance. So, caution must be exercised in reaching conclusions about these relationships until they can be replicated.

 

So, mindfulness traits may affect the ability of brief meditation to improve attention.

 

Mindfulness and meditation can have a tangible effect on the way your brain processes and stores information, reducing your stress, increasing your ability to respond flexibly to change, and can improve your ability to focus on tasks and pay attention over a period of time.“ – Maren Hunsberger

 

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

 

Tanaka M, Nakashima R, Hiromitsu K and Imamizu H (2021) Individual Differences in the Change of Attentional Functions With Brief One-Time Focused Attention and Open Monitoring Meditations. Front. Psychol. 12:716138. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.716138

 

Mindfulness meditation is increasingly used for clinical treatment and to improve well-being. One of the most fundamental benefits of mindfulness meditation is now considered as enhanced attentional control. Mindfulness meditation is a complex technique but most of its variants consist of a combination of two types of basic meditation practice: focused attention meditation (FAM) and open monitoring meditation (OMM). Although many studies have examined the effect of relatively long-term meditation on attention, some recent studies have focused on the effect of a brief one-time meditation on cognitive processing, including attentional functions. Furthermore, it is necessary to discuss the relationship between the effect of mindfulness meditation on attentional functions and personality traits (especially traits related to mindfulness). This study investigated whether attentional control is improved by a single 30-min FAM or OMM and whether the degree of improvement in attentional functions – alerting, orienting, and conflict monitoring – induced by the meditation varies according to the participant’s trait scores related to mindfulness measured by the Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups, i.e., FAM, OMM, and no-meditation (noM) groups, and given an Attentional Network Test before and after each 30-min meditation session. Compared with the noM group, there was no overall improvement in attentional functions with either type of meditation. However, there were associations between the change of the alerting function’s score and the personality traits: in the FAM group, alerting scores were negatively associated with the nonreactivity facet of the FFMQ, and in the OMM group, alerting scores were positively associated with describing facet scores of the FFMQ. The results indicate that the effects of meditation methods on attentional functions could depend on the individual’s traits related to mindfulness and that mindfulness meditation could sometimes appear to have no impact on attentional functions.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.716138/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1765474_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211102_arts_A

 

Increase Concentrative Attentional Processes with Brief Mindfulness Training

Increase Concentrative Attentional Processes with Brief Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness training produces measurable benefits to attention.” – Alexandra B. Morrison

 

One of the primary effects of mindfulness training is an improvement in the ability to pay attention to the task at hand and ignore interfering stimuli. This is an important consequence of mindfulness training and produces improvements in thinking, reasoning, and creativity. The importance of heightened attentional ability to the individual’s ability to navigate the demands of complex modern life cannot be overstated. It helps in school, at work, in relationships, or simply driving a car. As important as attention is, it’s surprising that little is known about the what attentional processes are affected by mindfulness.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Brief Mindfulness Training on Attentional Processes: Mindfulness Increases Prepulse Facilitation but Not Prepulse Inhibition.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.582057/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1757290_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211021_arts_A ) Asli and colleagues recruited healthy adults (aged 20-41 years) and randomly assigned them to either mindfulness or control condition. They underwent attentional measurement with a prepulse facilitation / prepulse inhibition test. In the test they had the magnitude of their eyeblink recorded in response to a loud abrupt tone. The tone was presented alone or preceded by a soft tone either 120 milliseconds before which produces a reduction in the startle eyeblink (prepulse inhibition) or 2 seconds before which produces an increase in the startle eyeblink (prepulse facilitation). They then listened to a 23-minute audio tape containing either mindfulness training or classical music. Followed by a repeat of the attentional test.

 

They found that the groups did not differ in their startle reflex to the tone alone or when the tone was preceded by 120 milliseconds by a soft tone. But after mindfulness training there was a significantly greater increase in the startle response than in control condition when the tone was preceded by 2 seconds by a soft tone. This indicates that mindfulness training increases prepulse facilitation and not prepulse inhibition.

 

Mindfulness is known to increase concentrative attention which focuses attention on a single object. In the present experiment the increased concentration on the prepulse when presented 2 seconds before appeared to facilitate its effects on the startle response. Hence, the present findings suggest that mindfulness improves concentrative attention. The fact that this can be done with a single brief training underlines the power of mindfulness in improving attention. This has important consequences for cognitive performance and may explain the ability of mindfulness to improve thinking, reasoning, and creativity.

 

So, Increase Concentrative Attentional Processes with Brief Mindfulness Training.

 

Mindfulness refines our attention so that we can connect more fully and directly with whatever life brings.” – Sharon Salzberg

 

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

 

Åsli O, Johansen MF and Solhaug I (2021) The Effects of Brief Mindfulness Training on Attentional Processes: Mindfulness Increases Prepulse Facilitation but Not Prepulse Inhibition. Front. Psychol. 12:582057. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.582057

 

Mindfulness is intentional focus of one’s attention on emotions, thoughts, or sensations occurring in the present moment with a nonjudgmental attitude. Recently there has been increased interest in the effects of mindfulness practice on psychological processes such as concentration, focus, and attention. In the present study, a prepulse inhibition/facilitation (PPI/PPF) paradigm was employed to investigate the effect of brief mindfulness practice on automatic attention regulation processes. PPI occurs when a relatively weak prepulse (e.g., a tone) is presented 30–500 ms before a startle-inducing stimulus, and reduces the magnitude of the startle response. Prepulse facilitation (PPF) is the increase in startle magnitude when the prepulse is presented 500 ms or more before the startle-eliciting stimulus. In the present study, the effect of engaging in a 23-min mindfulness exercise on PPI and PPF was investigated. Participants listened to either a mindfulness instruction (mindfulness group) or relaxing music (control group). In a PPI/PPF pretest and posttest, a startle-eliciting noise was presented at lead intervals of 60, 120, and 2,000 ms. Results showed that engaging in brief mindfulness practice increased prepulse facilitation at the 2,000 ms lead interval in the posttest compared to the pretest. The amount of PPI did not differ between tests.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.582057/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1757290_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211021_arts_A