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Practice & Neuroscience of Mindfulness & Compassion.

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Presentation on theme: "Practice & Neuroscience of Mindfulness & Compassion."— Presentation transcript:

1 Practice & Neuroscience of Mindfulness & Compassion

2 The Buddha -

3 Underlying assumptions

4 Mind and Brain William James 1) Brain produces thoughts ( ie like an electrical current produces light) 2) Brain permits/ releases mental events 3) Brain transmits thoughts ( like light hitting prism )

5 Emotional regulation There are three types of emotion regulation 1.Those that focus on threat and self- protection 2.Those that focus on doing and achieving 3.Those that focus on contentment and feeling safe

6 Attachment –affiliative emotion Caring as “looking after”. Seeking closeness rather than dispersion. Individuals obtain protection, food, and care when ill. Key also is soothing-calming and physiological regulation. Affection and kindness Affection and kindness





11 Threat system

12 Threat system + self reflective awareness = suffering

13 Why do we need Compassion? Life is Hard Life is Hard

14 Meal Sexual Shaming- Bullying Limbic system Stomach acid Saliva Arousal Fearful Depressed Compassion stimulating Kind, warm and caring Soothed Safe Meal Sex Shaming Compassion


16 Types of Affect Regulator Systems Incentive/resource- focused Wanting, pursuing, achieving, consuming Activating Non-wanting/ Affiliative focused Safeness-kindness Soothing Threat-focused Protection and Safety-seekingActivating/inhibiting Anger, anxiety, disgust Drive, excite, vitality Content, safe, connected

17 Reciprocal inhibition

18 Three major questions 1. Reciprocal inhibition 2. Underlying neurophysiological substrate 3. Clinical utility (Can attachment be healed)

19 fmri studies Lutz et al (Wisconsin ) Stanford group Zurich study

20 Neural correlates of self criticism and self reassurance - Subjects presented with two scenarios – self criticism & self reassurance Self criticism assoc lateral prefrontal and ant cingulate activation Self reassurance assoc left temporal and insula activation

21 fMRI Study ( Aston University ) STUDY Olivia Longe, Gina Rippon, Paul Gilbert & Frankie Maratos 2X2 Factorial: 2 X Statement Scenarios, 2 X Imagery Perspectives Statements pre-tested (n=12), for imagability (i.e. ease of imagining self-critical or self-reassuring thoughts), 1-7 Likert Scale. Emotion Scenario(-)Neutral Scenario “A third job rejection letter in a row arrives in the post” “The second free local newspaper in a row arrives in the post”. Self- Reassure Self- Criticize Self- Reassure Self- Criticize

22 Axial slices displaying left lateral PFC (BA 47, 45,9) and right lateral PFC (BA 46) activation Self-Criticism during Emotional Scenarios vs. Neutral

23 Self-Reassurance during Emotional Scenarios vs. Neutral Whole brain and axial slices displaying left temporal pole (BA 38) and insula activation

24 Regulation of Neural circuitry by compassion mediation – Lutz et al Examined fmri activity during affective processing – experienced & novice meditators Greater activation in R temporal, insula,ant cingulate in experienced meditators Activation of empathy circuitries

25 Neuroplasticity Santiago Ramon Cajal 1910 “ The fully mature brain lacks the intrinsic mechanisms needed to replenish neurons and re- establish networks “ 2002

26 Billy – the Silver Spring Monkey

27 The Knowledge London Cabbies

28 Musicians

29 What drives neuroplasticity “neurons that fire together wire together” “ Passive, unattended, or little attended exercises are of limited value for driving neuroplasticity” Directed attention is key driver to neuroplasticity

30 Conclusion Physical changes in the brain depend on non- physical state of mind – focused attention

31 Effects of compassion meditation on neuroendocrine and immune and behavioral response to stress (Stanford group ) Randomized 60 people to either health discussion group or 6 wk training program Response to stress test ( TSST) Measures HPA axis, interleukin il6 & cortisol Found no group difference but increased practice assoc with decreased cortisol & IL6

32 Zurich study Identify neural activity underlying compassion in expert meditator –30% 60% 90% intensity Area of interest right Insula. Left ventral striatum

33 Training of compassion Real time fmri neurofeedback Participants all receive compassion training and then randomized to with and without Rt fmri neurofeedback


35 “My Religion is kindness “ HH Dalai Lama Thank you

36 Jon Kabbat Zinn June 20 Glasgow university

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