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Neurocognitive Impact of MBCT in Bipolar Patients

Posted from archive: 07.26.2013 | by AMRA


Ives-Deliperi et al. [Journal of Affective Disorders] compared 16 bipolar patients before and after MBCT with a wait-list control of 7 bipolar patients and a cohort of 10 untreated healthy controls. Participants were assessed for emotional and cognitive symptoms and underwent fMRIs while performing mindfulness meditation. The patient cohort consisted of bipolar I and bipolar 2 patients with only minimal or sub-threshold symptomatology.

Prior to MBCT, the bipolar participants exhibited higher anxiety and stress, poorer working memory, and lower medial prefrontal cortical (PFC) activity than healthy controls. After MBCT, bipolar patients exhibited decreased anxiety and improved mindfulness (as measured by the FFMQ), working memory, spatial memory, verbal fluency, and emotional regulation compared with wait-list controls.

In addition, the MBCT group exhibited increased activity in the medial PFC and the right posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) compared with wait-list controls and increased left anterior cingulate cortical (ACC) activity compared with healthy controls. Increased medial PFC function correlated significantly (r= .61) with improved FFMQ scores. The findings demonstrate MBCT’s positive impact on the core symptoms of emotional dysregulation and executive dysfunction in bipolar disorder.

Reference: Ives-Deliperi, V. L., Howells, F., Stein, D. J., Meintjes, E. M., & Horn, N. (2013). The effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in patients with bipolar disorder: A controlled functional MRI investigation. Journal of Affective Disorders, 150(3):1152-7. [PMID: 23790741]

[Link to abstract]

January 6th, 2014|News|

Mindfulness Relieves Burnout in Grade School Teachers

Posted from archive: 06.25.2013 | by AMRA


Roeser et al. [Journal of Education Psychology] tested an 8-week mindfulness training, based on MBSR but designed specifically for grade school teachers, that focused group discussions and homework assignments on teaching-related concerns. Teachers (N=113) from Canada and the U.S. were randomly assigned to either mindfulness training or a wait-list control.

Teachers in the mindfulness condition showed higher levels of self-reported mindfulness (as measured by the FFMQ) and occupational self-compassion, and lower levels of self-reported occupational stress and burnout, anxiety, and depression than did controls both at program’s end and at 3-month follow-up. The effect sizes were large, ranging from 0.57 to 1.56. Changes in stress, burnout, depression, and anxiety were all mediated by changes in mindfulness and occupational self-compassion.

The Canadian teachers also completed an objective measure of working memory (the ability to hold multiple items of information in mind simultaneously) using a task requiring the recall of strings of digits while checking math problems for accuracy.

Teachers in the mindfulness group showed significantly better working memory capacity after training than did controls, but the effects on working memory were small, ranging from 0.15 to 0.33. Measures of cortisol, blood pressure, and heart rate were also obtained from the Canadian teachers, but yielded no significant changes over time. Most teachers (87%) completed the program, and 98 would recommend it to their peers. Average ratings on a 5-point scale of perceived benefit were high, both for professional (4.10) and personal (4.58) benefit.


Roeser, R. W., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Jha, A., Cullen, M., Wallace, L., Wilensky, R., . . . Harrison, J. (2013). Mindfulness training and reductions in teacher stress and burnout: Results from two randomized, waitlist-control […]

January 3rd, 2014|News|

Mindful Power Plant Operators in High Complexity Jobs Enact Safer Behaviors

Posted from archive: 06.06.2013 | by AMRA


Zhang et al. [Personality and Individual Differences] validated the factor structure of the Freiberg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI) in a Chinese population, and investigated the effects of trait mindfulness on the job performance of Chinese nuclear power plant operators. The FMI validation study (n=294) yielded a two-factor solution (Presence and Acceptance).

The authors then compared supervisor-rated task performance, safety compliance, and safety participation in two groups of power plant operators: control room operators (CRO) who monitor over 1,000 displays and maintain responsibility for overall reactor safety (a high complexity job), and field operators (FO) who monitor just a few pieces of frontline equipment and have limited decision-making responsibility (a low complexity job).

The authors hypothesized that trait Presence would be an asset for high complexity jobs, but less of an asset for low complexity jobs. Their reasoning was that mindfulness might consume limited cognitive resources that could interfere with speed and efficiency in low complexity jobs. Presence turned out to be positively correlated with CRO (high complexity) task performance, CRO safety participation, and CRO safety compliance, but negatively correlated with FO (low complexity) task performance, and unrelated to either FO safety compliance or participation. Trait Acceptance was unrelated to any of the work performance or safety measures.

This study suggests that mindfulness might aid in vocational tasks involving the processing of multiple streams of information along with complex decision-making responsibilities. However, mindfulness might be less relevant on routine tasks when speed is of the essence and the cost of error is low.


Zhang, J., Ding, W., Li, Y., & Wu, C. (2013). Task complexity matters: The influence of trait mindfulness on task and safety performance of […]

January 2nd, 2014|News|

MBIs Show Promise for Reducing Substance Use, Especially Smoking

Posted from archive: 04.05.2013 | by AMRA


Chiesa & Serretti [Substance Use & Misuse] comprehensively reviewed 24 quantitative, controlled studies of mindfulness-based and associated interventions (MBIs) on different types of substance abuse and misuse. The MBIs studied included MBSR, MBCT, MBRP, DBT and ACT, as well as other modalities. Substance abuse types included alcohol, tobacco, opiates, cannabis, methamphetamines, and mixed substance abuse. Retention rates were generally moderate to high (e.g., 50-90 for alcohol abusers, 63-100 for cigarette smokers, and 57-82 for opiate abusers) and there were no reported adverse effects.

There was some limited evidence that MBIs can reduce substance use over and above wait-list controls, nonspecific educational support groups, and some specific controls, but conclusions were hampered by methodological limitations including small sample size, lack of either randomization, blind assessment, or objective measures of substance use, and insufficient information on treatment adherence and follow-up. Some of the best evidence for efficacy was with the use of MBIs for smoking cessation, where all 4 reviewed studies showed significant benefits over and above controls.

There were also some surprising findings: three studies (one using MBSR, 2 using ACT) failed at significantly reducing stress. Two of the 3 studies using the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) failed to observe significant differences in mindfulness, while a third observed only transient differences on a single subscale. The authors emphasize the need for future replications with larger sample size and improved methodological rigor before firmer conclusions can be made.


Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2013). Are mindfulness-based interventions effective for substance use disorders? A systematic review of the evidence. Substance Use & Misuse. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2013.770027 [PMID: 23461667]

[Link to abstract]

December 30th, 2013|News|