The Neural Underpinnings of Mindfulness
Mindfulness meditation has recently seen an explosion in the number and variety of its practitioners and its application domains. It has been deployed in settings ranging from stress reduction therapies to concentration-and-focus in athletic endeavors. Mindfulness meditation has even shown strong promise in the area of neuromotor disease where motor symptoms and the stress they induce can be reduced significantly. Our group has focused on the neural underpinnings that support some of the behavioral features of mindfulness training including a capacity to disconnect brain regions that link valuation and responses to negative social outcomes. I will highlight how these experiments are being carried out using functional imaging and point the way toward future work using more fine-grained neural probes to understand mindfulness in terms of cognitive control.