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New Research: Mindful Meditation Makes Your Brain Happier and Less Fearful

What kind of study was this?

This was a single-arm trial, which means that there is only one group and one intervention being measured. Researchers measure outcomes (like brain functioning in this study) before and after the intervention and then use statistics to tell if there was a significant difference.

The major criticism of this approach is that there is no group of participants to which researchers can compare the intervention group. So, we can never know if the intervention is the cause of any outcome differences researchers found.

Maybe there was a placebo effect? Maybe there was really nice (or really bad) weather during the intervention and this caused the pre-post intervention changes? In single-arm trials, we can never know. Nevertheless, they are still interesting sources of information and can tell us whether an intervention is worth further study.

What did researchers want to know?

They wanted to know if mindful meditation changes how the brain reacts to things that can cause fear or pleasure.

What did the researchers actually do?

They took 20 women (who happened to be breast cancer survivors) and took them through a six-week course on mindful meditation. Before and after the six-week course, the researchers scanned their brains with an fMRI (which shows how different parts of the brain function by detecting blood flow). During these scans, the researchers asked the participants to perform tasks that are known to cause fear or pleasure.

What did the researchers find?

They found that after the six-week mindfulness course, participants' brains, on average, reacted more calmly to the fearful task and more excitedly to the pleasurable task. They also found that some of these brain changes were related to a decrease in whole-body inflammation.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Here’s another reason to bring mindful meditation into your life as a parent. This study was just on adults so we don’t know if it’s applicable to kids. While there are known risks to doing long, intensive meditation retreats, doing short daily meditation like they did in this study is a very low-risk, high-benefit activity that can help our brains chill out in the face of stress, and open up to more pleasurable moments in our lives. A powerful tool in the parent toolbox!

Original article:
Dutcher JM, Boyle CC, Eisenberger NI, Cole SW, Bower JE. Neural responses to threat and reward and changes in inflammation following a mindfulness intervention. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2021 Mar;125:105114. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2020.105114. Epub 2020 Dec 16. PMID: 33360032.

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New Research: Mindful Meditation Makes Your Brain Happier and Less Fearful

Six weeks of mindful meditation may help your parent brain be less reactive to stressful moments and more open and excited for happy moments

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What kind of study was this?

This was a single-arm trial, which means that there is only one group and one intervention being measured. Researchers measure outcomes (like brain functioning in this study) before and after the intervention and then use statistics to tell if there was a significant difference.

The major criticism of this approach is that there is no group of participants to which researchers can compare the intervention group. So, we can never know if the intervention is the cause of any outcome differences researchers found.

Maybe there was a placebo effect? Maybe there was really nice (or really bad) weather during the intervention and this caused the pre-post intervention changes? In single-arm trials, we can never know. Nevertheless, they are still interesting sources of information and can tell us whether an intervention is worth further study.

What did researchers want to know?

They wanted to know if mindful meditation changes how the brain reacts to things that can cause fear or pleasure.

What did the researchers actually do?

They took 20 women (who happened to be breast cancer survivors) and took them through a six-week course on mindful meditation. Before and after the six-week course, the researchers scanned their brains with an fMRI (which shows how different parts of the brain function by detecting blood flow). During these scans, the researchers asked the participants to perform tasks that are known to cause fear or pleasure.

What did the researchers find?

They found that after the six-week mindfulness course, participants' brains, on average, reacted more calmly to the fearful task and more excitedly to the pleasurable task. They also found that some of these brain changes were related to a decrease in whole-body inflammation.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Here’s another reason to bring mindful meditation into your life as a parent. This study was just on adults so we don’t know if it’s applicable to kids. While there are known risks to doing long, intensive meditation retreats, doing short daily meditation like they did in this study is a very low-risk, high-benefit activity that can help our brains chill out in the face of stress, and open up to more pleasurable moments in our lives. A powerful tool in the parent toolbox!

Original article:
Dutcher JM, Boyle CC, Eisenberger NI, Cole SW, Bower JE. Neural responses to threat and reward and changes in inflammation following a mindfulness intervention. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2021 Mar;125:105114. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2020.105114. Epub 2020 Dec 16. PMID: 33360032.

What kind of study was this?

This was a single-arm trial, which means that there is only one group and one intervention being measured. Researchers measure outcomes (like brain functioning in this study) before and after the intervention and then use statistics to tell if there was a significant difference.

The major criticism of this approach is that there is no group of participants to which researchers can compare the intervention group. So, we can never know if the intervention is the cause of any outcome differences researchers found.

Maybe there was a placebo effect? Maybe there was really nice (or really bad) weather during the intervention and this caused the pre-post intervention changes? In single-arm trials, we can never know. Nevertheless, they are still interesting sources of information and can tell us whether an intervention is worth further study.

What did researchers want to know?

They wanted to know if mindful meditation changes how the brain reacts to things that can cause fear or pleasure.

What did the researchers actually do?

They took 20 women (who happened to be breast cancer survivors) and took them through a six-week course on mindful meditation. Before and after the six-week course, the researchers scanned their brains with an fMRI (which shows how different parts of the brain function by detecting blood flow). During these scans, the researchers asked the participants to perform tasks that are known to cause fear or pleasure.

What did the researchers find?

They found that after the six-week mindfulness course, participants' brains, on average, reacted more calmly to the fearful task and more excitedly to the pleasurable task. They also found that some of these brain changes were related to a decrease in whole-body inflammation.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Here’s another reason to bring mindful meditation into your life as a parent. This study was just on adults so we don’t know if it’s applicable to kids. While there are known risks to doing long, intensive meditation retreats, doing short daily meditation like they did in this study is a very low-risk, high-benefit activity that can help our brains chill out in the face of stress, and open up to more pleasurable moments in our lives. A powerful tool in the parent toolbox!

Original article:
Dutcher JM, Boyle CC, Eisenberger NI, Cole SW, Bower JE. Neural responses to threat and reward and changes in inflammation following a mindfulness intervention. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2021 Mar;125:105114. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2020.105114. Epub 2020 Dec 16. PMID: 33360032.

What kind of study was this?

This was a single-arm trial, which means that there is only one group and one intervention being measured. Researchers measure outcomes (like brain functioning in this study) before and after the intervention and then use statistics to tell if there was a significant difference.

The major criticism of this approach is that there is no group of participants to which researchers can compare the intervention group. So, we can never know if the intervention is the cause of any outcome differences researchers found.

Maybe there was a placebo effect? Maybe there was really nice (or really bad) weather during the intervention and this caused the pre-post intervention changes? In single-arm trials, we can never know. Nevertheless, they are still interesting sources of information and can tell us whether an intervention is worth further study.

What did researchers want to know?

They wanted to know if mindful meditation changes how the brain reacts to things that can cause fear or pleasure.

What did the researchers actually do?

They took 20 women (who happened to be breast cancer survivors) and took them through a six-week course on mindful meditation. Before and after the six-week course, the researchers scanned their brains with an fMRI (which shows how different parts of the brain function by detecting blood flow). During these scans, the researchers asked the participants to perform tasks that are known to cause fear or pleasure.

What did the researchers find?

They found that after the six-week mindfulness course, participants' brains, on average, reacted more calmly to the fearful task and more excitedly to the pleasurable task. They also found that some of these brain changes were related to a decrease in whole-body inflammation.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Here’s another reason to bring mindful meditation into your life as a parent. This study was just on adults so we don’t know if it’s applicable to kids. While there are known risks to doing long, intensive meditation retreats, doing short daily meditation like they did in this study is a very low-risk, high-benefit activity that can help our brains chill out in the face of stress, and open up to more pleasurable moments in our lives. A powerful tool in the parent toolbox!

Original article:
Dutcher JM, Boyle CC, Eisenberger NI, Cole SW, Bower JE. Neural responses to threat and reward and changes in inflammation following a mindfulness intervention. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2021 Mar;125:105114. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2020.105114. Epub 2020 Dec 16. PMID: 33360032.

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