Neural correlates of focused attention during a brief mindfulness induction

  • Dickenson J
  • Berkman E
  • Arch J
 et al. 
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Abstract

Mindfulness meditation-the practice of attending to present moment experience and allowing emotions and thoughts to pass without judgment-has shown to be beneficial in clinical populations across diverse outcomes. However, the basic neural mechanisms by which mindfulness operates and relates to everyday outcomes in novices remain unexplored. Focused attention is a common mindfulness induction where practitioners focus on specific physical sensations, typically the breath. The present study explores the neural mechanisms of this common mindfulness induction among novice practitioners. Healthy novice participants completed a brief task with both mindful attention [focused breathing (FB)] and control (unfocused attention) conditions during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Relative to the control condition, FB recruited an attention network including parietal and prefrontal structures and trait-level mindfulness during this comparison also correlated with parietal activation. Results suggest that the neural mechanisms of a brief mindfulness induction are related to attention processes in novices and that trait mindfulness positively moderates this activation.

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Authors

  • Janna Dickenson

  • Elliot T. Berkman

  • Joanna Arch

  • Matthew D. Lieberman

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