The Emerging Neurobiology of Mindfulness and Emotion Processing

  • W. Michael Sayers
  • J. David Creswell
  • Adrienne Taren

Abstract

Mindfulness is associated with reduced negative affective states, increased positive affective states, and reduced clinical affective symptomatology (e.g., depression, anxiety) in previous studies. This chapter examines an emerging body of fMRI and EEG research exploring how mindfulness alters neurobiological emotion processing systems. We examine how dispositional (trait) mindfulness and how adopting a mindful attentional stance (after varying levels of mindfulness training) relate to changes in neural responses to affective stimuli. Evidence suggests mindfulness-related changes in a ventral affective processing network associated with core affect, a dorsal processing network associated with making attributions and appraisals of one’s affective experience, and regulatory networks involved in modulating affective processes. These neural effects may underlie the previously observed relationships between mindfulness and changes in reported emotion processing and reactivity. Findings are discussed in light of existing neurobiological models of emotion and we describe important questions for the field in the coming years.

Keywords

Affective processing Amygdala Emotion Meditation Mindfulness Mindfulness training Neuroscience Prefrontal cortex Trait mindfulness 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Michael Sayers
    • 1
  • J. David Creswell
    • 1
  • Adrienne Taren
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh, Department of NeuroscienceCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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