Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 581–594 | Cite as

Selective Attentional Bias Towards Pain-Related Threat in Fibromyalgia: Preliminary Evidence for Effects of Mindfulness Meditation Training

  • David R. VagoEmail author
  • Yoshio Nakamura
Original Article


The current study investigated the effects of an 8-week mindfulness-based meditation training (MMT) intervention on attentional bias, engagement and disengagement of pain-related threat in fibromyalgia patients as compared to an age-matched control group. A well validated dot-probe task was used to explore early versus later stages of attentional processing through the use of two stimulus exposure durations (100, 500 ms) of pain-related threat words. The enduring effects of MMT were assessed 6-months after completion of MMT. Preliminary results suggest that MMT reduces avoidance of pain-related threat at early levels of processing, and facilitates disengagement from threat at later stages of processing. Furthermore, it appears that effects of MMT on early attentional threat processing do not remain stable after long-term follow-up.


Attentional bias Avoidance Fibromyalgia Meditation Mindfulness 



The authors would like to acknowledge support from NIH Grant R21 AT002209 and the Mind & Life Institute for partial support of this research. The authors thank Shirley Ray for her incredible skill as a meditation teacher and Dawn Fleming Jackson, PhD for her clinical skills for the parent pilot clinical study. Lastly, the authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments on a previous version of this manuscript.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory, Brigham & Women’s HospitalHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Anesthesiology, School of Medicine, Utah Center for Exploring Mind–Body Interactions (UCEMBI), Pain Research CenterUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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