<p>Episode Description: The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, one of the foremost teachers in the Nyingma and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism, joins</p>
Background: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by deficits in self-regulation, including impulsivity and affective instability. Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP) is an evidence-based treatment with proven effectiveness in reducing symptoms across multiple cognitive-emotional domains in patients with BPD. In this study, longitudinal changes in neural activation patterns and predictors of treatment response were investigated using a dimensional symptom-based approach. Methods: A functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activation paradigm was used pre and post-TFP in patients with BPD, with statistical parametric analyses, to test hypotheses concerning the identification of frontolimbic biomarkers for clinical improvement. Using a within-subjects design, BPD subjects (N=10; mean age=27.8) were scanned pretreatment, and again after approximately one-year of TFP using a disorder-specific emotional linguistic go/no-go fMRI paradigm. Results: Analyses confirmed significant treatment related effects with relative increases in dorsal prefrontal cognitive control regions (dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), and relative decreases in ventrolateral prefrontal and hippocampal areas following treatment. Clinical improvement in affective lability correlated positively with activity in left posterior-medial orbitofrontal cortex/ventral striatum (small-volume-corrected p value (psvc)=0.028); right amygdala/ parahippocampal activation correlated negatively with improvements in affective lability (psvc=0.005). Pretreatment hypoactivation in the left posterior-medial orbitofrontal cortex/ventral striatum predicted improvements in affective lability (psvc=0.013), and posttreatment improvements in constraint were predicted by pretreatment right anterior-dorsal anterior cingulate cortex hypoactivation (psvc=0.002). Conclusions: Individuals with BPD whose symptoms improved following TFP demonstrated modulation of neural activity in brain regions known to be implicated in behavioral inhibition in the context of negative emotional processing.
<p>This book argues for the central role played by absorption in the functioning of the human mind. The importance of absorption makes itself felt in different ways; the two studies combined in this book concentrate on two of them. The first study, 'The Symbolic Mind', argues that, largely as a result of language acquisition, humans have two levels of cognition, which in normal circumstances are simultaneously active. Absorption is a (or the) means to circumvent some, perhaps all, of the associations that characterize one of these two levels of cognition, resulting in what is sometimes referred to as mysitcal experience, but which is not confined to mysticism and plays a role in various "religious" phenomena, and elsewhere. In the second study, 'The Psychology of the Buddha', Prof. Bronkhorst provides a theoretical context for the observation that absorption is a source of pleasure, grapples with Freud, and illustrates his observations through translations of ancient Buddhist texts from the Pali ans Sanskrit languages along with his psychological commentary.</p>
After reviewing six senses of abstraction, this article focuses on abstractions that take the form of summary representations. Three central properties of these abstractions are established: ( i ) type-token interpretation; (ii) structured representation; and (iii) dynamic realization. Traditional theories of representation handle interpretation and structure well but are not sufficiently dynamical. Conversely, connectionist theories are exquisitely dynamic but have problems with structure. Perceptual symbol systems offer an approach that implements all three properties naturally. Within this framework, a loose collection of property and relation simulators develops to represent abstractions. Type-token interpretation results from binding a property simulator to a region of a perceived or simulated category member. Structured representation results from binding a configuration of property and relation simulators to multiple regions in an integrated manner. Dynamic realization results from applying different subsets of property and relation simulators to category members on different occasions. From this standpoint, there are no permanent or complete abstractions of a category in memory. Instead, abstraction is the skill to construct temporary online interpretations of a category's members. Although an infinite number of abstractions are possible, attractors develop for habitual approaches to interpretation. This approach provides new ways of thinking about abstraction phenomena in categorization, inference, background knowledge and learning.
Based on promising results with adults, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) presents as a treatment opportunity for depressed adolescents. We present a pilot study that compares ACT with treatment as usual (TAU), using random allocation of participants who were clinically referred to a psychiatric outpatient service. Participants were 30 adolescents, aged M = 14.9 (SD = 2.55), with 73.6% in the clinical range for depression. At posttreatment on measures of depression participants in the ACT condition showed significantly greater improvement statistically (d = 0.38), and 58% showed clinically reliable change with a response ratio of 1.59 in favor of ACT. Outcomes from 3-month follow-up data are tentative due to small numbers but suggest that improvement increased in magnitude. Measures of global functioning showed statistically significant improvement for both conditions, although clinical change measures favored only the ACT condition. The results support conducting a larger trial of ACT for the treatment of adolescent depression.
Website of the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education. The website includes a bibliography related to contemplative practice and contemplative education, including several papers written by fellows of the Association available as PDFs on the website.
To gain insight into the neurophysiological mechanisms involved in Zen meditation, we evaluated the effects of focused attention (FA) on breathing movements in the lower abdomen (Tanden) in novices. We investigated hemodynamic changes in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), an attention-related brain region, using 24-channel near-infrared spectroscopy during a 20-minute session of FA on Tanden breathing in 15 healthy volunteers. We found that the level of oxygenated hemoglobin in the anterior PFC was significantly increased during FA on Tanden breathing, accompanied by a reduction in feelings of negative mood compared to before the meditation session. Electroencephalography (EEG) revealed increased alpha band activity and decreased theta band activity during and after FA on Tanden breathing. EEG changes were correlated with a significant increase in whole blood serotonin (5-HT) levels. These results suggest that activation of the anterior PFC and 5-HT system may be responsible for the improvement of negative mood and EEG signal changes observed during FA on Tanden breathing.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the acute and chronic effects of yoga practice. DESIGN: Quantitative study using a one-group pre-posttest design. SETTING: Visao Futuro Institute, Porangaba, Sao Paulo, Brazil. PARTICIPANTS: 22 volunteers (7 men and 15 women). INTERVENTION: Six weeks of a tantric yoga program (TYP), 50 minutes per session, held twice a week from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. The local ethics committee approved the protocol. OUTCOME MEASURES: Data were collected in the first week and at the end of the sixth week of TYP. Salivary cortisol concentration (SCC) was used to measure physiology of distress and to analyze the short- and long-term effects of TYP. Psychological distress was evaluated by applying a specific perceived stress questionnaire (PSQ). Results (mean+/-standard deviation) were analyzed by Wilcoxon test (p<0.05). RESULTS: SCC decreased 24% after the first (0.66+/-0.20 mug/dL versus 0.50+/-0.13 mug/dL) and last (1.01+/-0.37 versus 0.76+/-0.31 mug/dL) sessions, showing the short-term effect of yoga. Long-term effects were analyzed by daily rhythm of cortisol production. In the beginning, volunteers showed altered SCC during the day, with nighttime values (0.42+/-0.28) higher than those at noon (0.30+/-0.06). After the TYP, SCC was higher in the morning (1.01+/-0.37) and decreased during the day, with lower values before sleep (0.30+/-0.13). The TYP was also efficient to reduce PSQ scores (0.45+/-0.13 versus 0.39+/-0.07). Specifically, the irritability, tension, and fatigue domains on the PSQ decreased (0.60+/-0.20 versus 0.46+/-0.13), as did the fear and anxiety domains (0.54+/-0.30 versus 0.30+/-0.20). CONCLUSION: Over the short term, TYP led to the decrease of cortisol production. Over the long term, TYP induced higher cortisol production in the morning and lower production in the evening. Those effects contributed to the physical and mental well-being of the participants.
BACKGROUND: College students are vulnerable to a critical period in developmental maturation, facing rigorous academic work and learning how to function independently. Western aerobic exercise (WAE), such as running and bicycling, has been shown to improve mood and relieve stress. However, college students often have low levels of physical activity. Yoga is an ancient physical and mental practice that may affect mood and stress. However, rigorous studies examining the psychological effects of yoga are rare in peerreviewed Western journals. The aim of this research was to establish preliminary evidence for the acute effects of Vinyasa yoga on affect and stress in young-adult college students. METHODS: Twenty healthy college students age 18 years and older were recruited to participate in this pilot study. Participants attended a Vinyasa yoga class at a local studio twice weekly for 8 weeks. Affect and stress were assessed before and after each yoga session. Measures included the Positive and Negative Affective Schedule (PANAS) and the Cohen Perceived Stress scale. RESULTS: Positive affect scores increased significantly (p < 0.05) for 14 of the 16 yoga sessions (mean increase = 23.2%). Negative affect decreased significantly from pre- to postyoga (p < 0.05) for 15 of the 16 sessions (mean decrease = 22%). Repeated measures ANOVAs examining pre-post composite scores across all 8 weeks showed significant changes in PANAS, but not stress scores. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that yoga practice is associated with acute improvements in affect in a young-adult college population. Future research is needed to examine the extent to which different types of yoga address the needs of different college sub-populations (e.g., eating disordered, overweight/obese, sedentary, and smokers).
To test the effects of cortisol on affective experience, the authors orally administered a placebo, 20 mg cortisol, or 40 mg cortisol to 85 men. Participants' affective responses to negative and neutral stimuli were measured. Self-reported affective state was also assessed. Participants in the 40-mg group (showing extreme cortisol elevations within the physiological range) rated neutral stimuli as more highly arousing than did participants in the placebo and 20-mg groups. Furthermore, within the 20-mg group, individuals with higher cortisol elevations made higher arousal ratings of neutral stimuli. However, cortisol was unrelated to self-reported affective state. Thus, findings indicate that acute cortisol elevations cause heightened arousal in response to objectively nonarousing stimuli, in the absence of effects on mood.
The concept of recovery strategies includes various ways to achieve a state of well-being, prevent underrecovery syndromes from occurring and re-establish pre-performance states. A systematic application of individualised relaxation techniques is one of those. Following a counterbalanced cross-over design, 27 sport science students (age 25.22 +/- 1.08 years; sports participation 8.08 +/- 3.92 h/week) were randomly assigned to series of progressive muscle relaxation, systematic breathing, power nap, yoga, and a control condition. Once a week, over the course of five weeks, their repeated sprint ability was tested. Tests (6 sprints of 4 s each with 20 s breaks between them) were executed on a non-motorised treadmill twice during that day intermitted by 25 min breaks. RM-ANOVA revealed significant interaction effects between the relaxation conditions and the two sprint sessions with regard to average maximum speed over all six sprints, F(4,96) = 4.06, P = 0.004, [Formula: see text] = 0.15. Post-hoc tests indicated that after systematic breathing interventions, F(1,24) = 5.02, P = 0.033, [Formula: see text] = 0.18, participants performed significantly better compared to control sessions. As the focus of this study lied on basic mechanisms of relaxation techniques in sports, this randomised controlled trial provides us with distinct knowledge on their effects, i.e., systematic breathing led to better performances, and therefore, seems to be a suited relaxation method during high-intensity training.
<p>Treating suicidal adolescents is fraught with challenges. Antidepressants may be associated with increased suicidal ideation in adolescents, although some data suggest that increased adolescent suicide rates are correlated with decreases in antidepressant prescribing. Adolescents hospitalized after a suicide attempt are likely to attempt suicide again after they are discharged. Such patients might not attend outpatient psychotherapy; a study of 167 adolescents discharged after a suicide attempt found that 26% never attended follow-up appointments and 11% went once. Emerging research supports the effectiveness of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) for suicidal adolescents. DBT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that combines individual therapy, skills training, and telephone coaching and is implemented by a therapist consultation team that meets weekly. This article reviews evidence supporting the efficacy of DBT for suicidal adolescents and describes principles of outpatient DBT for these patients as developed by Miller et al.</p>
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: The practice of yoga is associated with enhanced psychological wellbeing. The current study assessed the correlation between the duration of yoga practice with state mindfulness, mind-wandering and state anxiety. Also, we examined if an additional 20 min of yoga breathing with intermittent breath holding (experimental group) for 8 weeks would affect these psychological variables more than regular yoga practice (control group) alone. METHODS: One hundred sixteen subjects were randomly assigned to experimental (n = 60) and control (n = 56) groups. State mindfulness attention awareness scale (SMAAS), Mind-Wandering Questionnaire (MWQ) and State anxiety inventory were administered at baseline and at the end of 8 weeks. RESULTS: Baseline assessment revealed a positive correlation between duration of yoga practice with SMAAS scores and negative correlation with MWQ and state anxiety scores. At the end of 8 weeks, both groups demonstrated enhanced psychological functions, but the experimental group receiving additional yoga breathing performed better than the group practicing yoga alone. CONCLUSION: An additional practice of yoga breathing with intermittent breath holding was found to enhance the psychological functions in young adult yoga practitioners.