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Mindful : December 2017
JUDSON BREWER, MD, PHD Psychiatrist and Chief, Division of Mindfulness; asso- ciate professor, Departments of Medicine and Psy- chiatry; research director, Center for Mindfulness, UMASS Medical School KNOWN FOR Discovering how mindfulness can undercut addiction; using neuroimaging techniques to reveal how mind- fulness affects the brain; developing mindfulness tools to help people quit smoking and han- dle food cravings. FUTURE DIRECTIONS Examining the effects of mind- fulness programs delivered via digital means. “This is the next generation of mindfulness delivery,” he says. “ We want to care- fully study how it works.” His team has created an app, “Unwinding Anxiety,” which he plans to study in future clinical trials. DAVID CRESWELL, PHD Associate profes- sor of psychology, Carnegie Mellon University KNOWN FOR Examining what makes people resilient under stress and cofounding health neuroscience, which combines health psychology and neuroscience. FUTURE DIRECTIONS He has begun a randomized con- trolled trial looking at how Mindful- ness-Based Stress Reduction may improve social relationships and healthy aging in older adults. In other trials, his team is examining whether adding acceptance and equanimity skills to mindfulness training can reduce stress and improve health. LARISSA DUNCAN, PHD Elizabeth C. Davies Chair in Child & Family Well-Being and associate pro- fessor of human development and family studies at the School of Human Ecology and the Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wis- consin–Madison KNOWN FOR Developing ways to promote and assess mindful parenting; bring- ing mindfulness and compassion training to preg- nant women, chil- dren, adolescents, and families. FUTURE DIRECTIONS She’s planning a study to test how Mindful- ness-Based Childbirth and Parenting affects mothers’ mental health, stress physiology, and well-being, and infants’ behav- ioral, biological, and neurological development. She’s also partner- ing with mind- fulness exper ts of color, seeking ways to make mindfulness more widely accessible and culturally relevant. → that persist after a meditation session, the before was the baseline condition when we start meditating, and the during referred to the temporary changes that occur in the process. Says Goleman, “That was our way of talking about how, as you continue practicing, the things you saw hap- pening during the state itself become part of your way of being. They become traits.” It was an interesting theory. The only problem was they didn’t have any scientific research at the time to back it up. “ We had the meditators,” he laments, “but we didn’t have the data.” But now that’s changing. The latest research on long-term meditators is showing that Goleman and David- son’s intuition wasn’t far off. These new studies are providing scientific confirmation that sustained practice can bring about enduring changes in brain function and the kind of trans- formation in behavior that, as they put it, “dramatically ups the limits on psychological science’s ideas of human possibility.” Glimpsing the Mindful Brain Much of the early research on medi- tation focused on “state” effects. The studies often involved novices who were taught mindfulness techniques and then tested against control groups to determine what impact, if any, the meditation had on their performance. Not all the research was that rigorous, and some turned out to be little more than hype. But when you weed out the studies that don’t meet the highest scientific standards, as Goleman and Davidson have done in their book, a clear picture emerges of what we know about the science of medita- tion—and what we still need to learn. Not surprisingly, some of the stron- gest areas of research center on atten- tion. In one key MIT study, research- ers found that volunteers who took an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program had a far g reater ability to focus on their sensations → December 2017 mindful 57 science