Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 327–336

Neurophysiological evidence for remediation of reward processing deficits in chronic pain and opioid misuse following treatment with Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement: exploratory ERP findings from a pilot RCT

  • Eric L. Garland
  • Brett Froeliger
  • Matthew O. Howard

DOI: 10.1007/s10865-014-9607-0

Cite this article as:
Garland, E.L., Froeliger, B. & Howard, M.O. J Behav Med (2015) 38: 327. doi:10.1007/s10865-014-9607-0


Dysregulated processing of natural rewards may be a central pathogenic process in the etiology and maintenance of prescription opioid misuse and addiction among chronic pain patients. This study examined whether a Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) intervention could augment natural reward processing through training in savoring as indicated by event-related brain potentials (ERPs). Participants were chronic pain patients at risk for opioid misuse who were randomized to 8 weeks of MORE (n = 11) or a support group control condition (n = 18). ERPs to images representing naturally rewarding stimuli (e.g., beautiful landscapes, intimate couples) and neutral images were measured before and after 8 weeks of treatment. Analyses focused on the late positive potential (LPP)—an ERP response in the 400–1,000 ms time window thought to index allocation of attention to emotional information. Treatment with MORE was associated with significant increases in LPP response to natural reward stimuli relative to neutral stimuli which were correlated with enhanced positive affective cue-responses and reductions in opioid craving from pre- to post-treatment. Findings suggest that cognitive training regimens centered on strengthening attention to natural rewards may remediate reward processing deficits underpinning addictive behavior.


Mindfulness Chronic pain Opioid misuse Reward ERP Positive emotion Allostasis LPP Savoring 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric L. Garland
    • 1
  • Brett Froeliger
    • 2
  • Matthew O. Howard
    • 3
  1. 1.University of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Medical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  3. 3.University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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