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Two experiments examined the role of valuing the welfare of a person in need as an antecedent of empathic concern. Specifically, these experiments explored the relation of such valuing to a well-known antecedent--perspective taking. In Experiment 1, both perspective taking and valuing were manipulated, and each independently increased empathic concern, which, in turn, increased helping behavior. In Experiment 2, only valuing was manipulated. Manipulated valuing increased measured perspective taking and, in part as a result, increased empathic concern, which, in turn, increased helping. Valuing appears to be an important, largely overlooked, situational antecedent of feeling empathy for a person in need.

Considerable evidence exists to support an association between psychological states and immune function. However, the mechanisms by which such states are instantiated in the brain and influence the immune system are poorly understood. The present study investigated relations among physiological measures of affective style, psychological well being, and immune function. Negative and positive affect were elicited by using an autobiographical writing task. Electroencephalography and affect-modulated eye-blink startle were used to measure trait and state negative affect. Participants were vaccinated for influenza, and antibody titers after the vaccine were assayed to provide an in vivo measure of immune function. Higher levels of right-prefrontal electroencephalographic activation and greater magnitude of the startle reflex reliably predicted poorer immune response. These data support the hypothesis that individuals characterized by a more negative affective style mount a weaker immune response and therefore may be at greater risk for illness than those with a more positive affective style.
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OBJECTIVE: The underlying changes in biological processes that are associated with reported changes in mental and physical health in response to meditation have not been systematically explored. We performed a randomized, controlled study on the effects on brain and immune function of a well-known and widely used 8-week clinical training program in mindfulness meditation applied in a work environment with healthy employees. METHODS: We measured brain electrical activity before and immediately after, and then 4 months after an 8-week training program in mindfulness meditation. Twenty-five subjects were tested in the meditation group. A wait-list control group (N = 16) was tested at the same points in time as the meditators. At the end of the 8-week period, subjects in both groups were vaccinated with influenza vaccine. RESULTS: We report for the first time significant increases in left-sided anterior activation, a pattern previously associated with positive affect, in the meditators compared with the nonmeditators. We also found significant increases in antibody titers to influenza vaccine among subjects in the meditation compared with those in the wait-list control group. Finally, the magnitude of increase in left-sided activation predicted the magnitude of antibody titer rise to the vaccine. CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research.

OBJECTIVE: The underlying changes in biological processes that are associated with reported changes in mental and physical health in response to meditation have not been systematically explored. We performed a randomized, controlled study on the effects on brain and immune function of a well-known and widely used 8-week clinical training program in mindfulness meditation applied in a work environment with healthy employees. METHODS: We measured brain electrical activity before and immediately after, and then 4 months after an 8-week training program in mindfulness meditation. Twenty-five subjects were tested in the meditation group. A wait-list control group (N = 16) was tested at the same points in time as the meditators. At the end of the 8-week period, subjects in both groups were vaccinated with influenza vaccine. RESULTS: We report for the first time significant increases in left-sided anterior activation, a pattern previously associated with positive affect, in the meditators compared with the nonmeditators. We also found significant increases in antibody titers to influenza vaccine among subjects in the meditation compared with those in the wait-list control group. Finally, the magnitude of increase in left-sided activation predicted the magnitude of antibody titer rise to the vaccine. CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research.
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Objective: The underlying changes in biological processes that are associated with reported changes in mental and physical health in response to meditation have not been systematically explored. We performed a randomized, controlled study on the effects on brain and immune function of a well-known and widely used 8-week clinical training program in mindfulness meditation appliedin a work environment with healthy employees. Methods: We measured brain electrical activity before and immediately after, and then 4 months after an 8-week training program in mindfulness meditation. Twenty-five subjects were tested in the meditation group. A wait-list control group (N 16) was tested at the same points in time as the meditators. At the end of the 8-week period, subjects in both groups were vaccinated with influenza vaccine. Results: We report for the first time significant increases in left-sided anterior activation, a pattern previously associated with positive affect, in the meditators compared with the nonmeditators. We also found significant increases in antibody titers to influenza vaccine among subjects in the meditation compared with those in the wait-list control group. Finally, the magnitude of increase in left-sided activation predicted the magnitude of antibody titer rise to the vaccine. Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research. Key words: meditation, mindfulness, EEG, immune function, brain asymmetry, influenza vaccine.

OBJECTIVE: The underlying changes in biological processes that are associated with reported changes in mental and physical health in response to meditation have not been systematically explored. We performed a randomized, controlled study on the effects on brain and immune function of a well-known and widely used 8-week clinical training program in mindfulness meditation applied in a work environment with healthy employees.METHODS: We measured brain electrical activity before and immediately after, and then 4 months after an 8-week training program in mindfulness meditation. Twenty-five subjects were tested in the meditation group. A wait-list control group (N = 16) was tested at the same points in time as the meditators. At the end of the 8-week period, subjects in both groups were vaccinated with influenza vaccine. RESULTS: We report for the first time significant increases in left-sided anterior activation, a pattern previously associated with positive affect, in the meditators compared with the nonmeditators. We also found significant increases in antibody titers to influenza vaccine among subjects in the meditation compared with those in the wait-list control group. Finally, the magnitude of increase in left-sided activation predicted the magnitude of antibody titer rise to the vaccine. CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research.

Experientially opening oneself to pain rather than avoiding it is said to reduce the mind's tendency toward avoidance or anxiety which can further exacerbate the experience of pain. This is a central feature of mindfulness-based therapies. Little is known about the neural mechanisms of mindfulness on pain. During a meditation practice similar to mindfulness, functional magnetic resonance imaging was used in expert meditators (> 10,000 h of practice) to dissociate neural activation patterns associated with pain, its anticipation, and habituation. Compared to novices, expert meditators reported equal pain intensity, but less unpleasantness. This difference was associated with enhanced activity in the dorsal anterior insula (aI), and the anterior mid-cingulate (aMCC) the so-called ‘salience network’, for experts during pain. This enhanced activity during pain was associated with reduced baseline activity before pain in these regions and the amygdala for experts only. The reduced baseline activation in left aI correlated with lifetime meditation experience. This pattern of low baseline activity coupled with high response in aIns and aMCC was associated with enhanced neural habituation in amygdala and pain-related regions before painful stimulation and in the pain-related regions during painful stimulation. These findings suggest that cultivating experiential openness down-regulates anticipatory representation of aversive events, and increases the recruitment of attentional resources during pain, which is associated with faster neural habituation.

Abstract Prosocial behavior covers the broad range of actions intended to benefit one or more people other than oneself—actions such as helping, comforting, sharing, and cooperation. Altruism is motivation to increase another person's welfare; it is contrasted to egoism, the motivation to increase one's own welfare. There is no one-to-one correspondence between prosocial behavior and altruism. Prosocial behavior need not be motivated by altruism; altruistic motivation need not produce prosocial behavior. Over the past 30 years, the practical concern to promote prosocial behavior has led to both a variance-accounted-for empirical approach, which focuses on identifying situational and dispositional determinants of helping, and the application of existing psychological theories. Theories invoked to explain prosocial behavior include social learning, tension reduction, norm, exchange or equity, attribution, esteem-enhancement, and moral reasoning theories. In addition, new theoretical perspectives have been developed by researchers focused on anomalous aspects of why people do—and don't—act prosocially. Their research has raised the possibility of a multiplicity of social motives—altruism, collectivism, and principlism, as well as egoism. It has also raised questions—as yet unanswered—about how these motives might be most effectively orchestrated to increase prosocial behavior.

We send money to help famine victims halfway around the world. We campaign to save whales and oceans. We stay up all night to comfort a friend with a broken relationship. People will at times risk -- even lose -- their lives for others, including strangers. Why do we do these things? What motivates such behavior? Altruism in Humans takes a hard-science look at the possibility that we humans have the capacity to care for others for their sakes rather than simply for our own. Based on an extensive series of theory-testing laboratory experiments conducted over the past 35 years, this book details a theory of altruistic motivation, offers a comprehensive summary of the research designed to test the empathy-altruism hypothesis, and considers the theoretical and practical implications of this conclusion. Authored by the world's preeminent scholar on altruism, this landmark work is an authoritative scholarly resource on the theory surrounding altruism and its potential contribution to better interpersonal relations and a better society.

As real and undeniable as our callousness is, also real and undeniable is our ability to care for and help family, friends, even total strangers. Indeed, most observers find it easier to explain our callousness than our compassion. . . . The latter seems to challenge the truism of self-interest, forcing us to ask: Could it be that we are capable of having another person's welfare as an ultimate goal, that not all of our efforts are directed toward looking out for Number One? This is the altruism question. It is the question that this book attempts to answer.Traditionally, philosophers are the ones who have offered answers to the altruism question. . . . But my [the author's] approach is social psychological, because I think social psychology is the scientific subdiscipline best suited to provide an answer to the altruism question. At the same time, I have tried to write not only for social psychologists but also for other psychologists, philosophers, and biologists. I have also tried to write for students, both undergraduate and graduate—indeed, for anyone interested in the question of why we help one another.

The Earth has reached a tipping point. Runaway climate change, the sixth great extinction of planetary life, the acidification of the oceans—all point toward an era of unprecedented turbulence in humanity's relationship within the web of life. But just what is that relationship, and how do we make sense of this extraordinary transition? Anthropocene or Capitalocene? offers answers to these questions from a dynamic group of leading critical scholars who challenge the conventional practice of dividing historical change and contemporary reality into "Nature" and "Society," demonstrating the possibilities offered by a more nuanced and connective view of human environment-making, joined at every step with and within the biosphere. In distinct registers, the authors frame their discussions within a politics of hope that signal the possibilities for transcending capitalism, broadly understood as a "world-ecology" that joins nature, capital, and power as a historically evolving whole.

Functional MRI resting state and connectivity studies of brain focus on neural fluctuations at low frequencies which share power with physiological fluctuations originating from lung and heart. Due to the lack of automated software to process physiological signals collected at high magnetic fields, a gap exists in the processing pathway between the acquisition of physiological data and its use in fMRI software for both physiological noise correction and functional analyses of brain activation and connectivity. To fill this gap, we developed an open source, physiological signal processing program, called PhysioNoise, in the python language. We tested its automated processing algorithms and dynamic signal visualization on resting monkey cardiac and respiratory waveforms. PhysioNoise consistently identifies physiological fluctuations for fMRI noise correction and also generates covariates for subsequent analyses of brain activation and connectivity.
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Up to 50% of individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) do not recover after two antidepressant medication trials, and therefore meet the criteria for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is one promising treatment; however, the extent to which MBCT influences clinical outcomes relative to baseline neural activation remains unknown. In the present study we investigated baseline differences in amygdala activation between TRD patients and healthy controls (HCs), related amygdala activation to depression symptoms, and examined the impacts of MBCT and amygdala activation on longitudinal depression outcomes. At baseline, TRD patients (n = 80) and HCs (n = 37) participated in a functional magnetic resonance imaging task in which they identified either the emotion (affect labeling) or the gender (gender labeling) of faces, or passively viewed faces (observing). The TRD participants then completed eight weeks of MBCT or a health enhancement program (HEP). Relative to HCs, the TRD patients demonstrated less amygdala activation during affect labeling, and marginally less during gender labeling. Blunted amygdala activation in TRD patients during affect labeling was associated with greater depression severity. MBCT was associated with greater depression reductions than was HEP directly following treatment; however, at 52 weeks the treatment effect was not significant, and baseline amygdala activation across the task conditions predicted depression severity in both groups. TRD patients have blunted amygdala responses during affect labeling that are associated with greater concurrent depression. Furthermore, although MBCT produced greater short-term improvements in depression than did HEP, overall baseline amygdala reactivity was predictive of long-term clinical outcomes in both groups.

Up to 50% of individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) do not recover after two antidepressant medication trials, and therefore meet the criteria for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is one promising treatment; however, the extent to which MBCT influences clinical outcomes relative to baseline neural activation remains unknown. In the present study we investigated baseline differences in amygdala activation between TRD patients and healthy controls (HCs), related amygdala activation to depression symptoms, and examined the impacts of MBCT and amygdala activation on longitudinal depression outcomes. At baseline, TRD patients (n = 80) and HCs (n = 37) participated in a functional magnetic resonance imaging task in which they identified either the emotion (affect labeling) or the gender (gender labeling) of faces, or passively viewed faces (observing). The TRD participants then completed eight weeks of MBCT or a health enhancement program (HEP). Relative to HCs, the TRD patients demonstrated less amygdala activation during affect labeling, and marginally less during gender labeling. Blunted amygdala activation in TRD patients during affect labeling was associated with greater depression severity. MBCT was associated with greater depression reductions than was HEP directly following treatment; however, at 52 weeks the treatment effect was not significant, and baseline amygdala activation across the task conditions predicted depression severity in both groups. TRD patients have blunted amygdala responses during affect labeling that are associated with greater concurrent depression. Furthermore, although MBCT produced greater short-term improvements in depression than did HEP, overall baseline amygdala reactivity was predictive of long-term clinical outcomes in both groups.

Up to 50% of individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) do not recover after two antidepressant medication trials, and therefore meet the criteria for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is one promising treatment; however, the extent to which MBCT influences clinical outcomes relative to baseline neural activation remains unknown. In the present study we investigated baseline differences in amygdala activation between TRD patients and healthy controls (HCs), related amygdala activation to depression symptoms, and examined the impacts of MBCT and amygdala activation on longitudinal depression outcomes. At baseline, TRD patients (n = 80) and HCs (n = 37) participated in a functional magnetic resonance imaging task in which they identified either the emotion (affect labeling) or the gender (gender labeling) of faces, or passively viewed faces (observing). The TRD participants then completed eight weeks of MBCT or a health enhancement program (HEP). Relative to HCs, the TRD patients demonstrated less amygdala activation during affect labeling, and marginally less during gender labeling. Blunted amygdala activation in TRD patients during affect labeling was associated with greater depression severity. MBCT was associated with greater depression reductions than was HEP directly following treatment; however, at 52 weeks the treatment effect was not significant, and baseline amygdala activation across the task conditions predicted depression severity in both groups. TRD patients have blunted amygdala responses during affect labeling that are associated with greater concurrent depression. Furthermore, although MBCT produced greater short-term improvements in depression than did HEP, overall baseline amygdala reactivity was predictive of long-term clinical outcomes in both groups.

Ethical debate on the killing of kangaroos has polarised conservation and animal welfare science, yet at the heart of these scientific disciplines is the unifying aim of reducing harm to non-human animals. This aim provides the foundation for common ground, culminating in the development of compassionate conservation principles that seek to provide mechanisms for achieving both conservation and welfare goals. However, environmental decision-making is not devoid of human interests, and conservation strategies are commonly employed that suit entrenched positions and commercial gain, rather than valuing the needs of the non-human animals in need of protection. The case study on the wild kangaroo harvest presents just such a dilemma, whereby a conservation strategy is put forward that can only be rationalised by ignoring difficulties in the potential for realising conservation benefits and the considerable welfare cost to kangaroos. Rather than an open debate on the ethics of killing game over livestock, in this response I argue that efforts to bring transparency and objectivity to the public debate have to date been obfuscated by those seeking to maintain entrenched interests. Only by putting aside these interests will debate about the exploitation of wildlife result in humane, compassionate, and substantive conservation benefits.

(RNS) The mindfulness movement has seeped into Silicon Valley, Capitol Hill, and even the United States Military Academy at West Point. Next stop: the voting booth. By Daniel Burke.

We have studied a number of long-term meditators in previous studies. The purpose of this study was to determine if there are differences in baseline brain function of experienced meditators compared to non-meditators. All subjects were recruited as part of an ongoing study of different meditation practices. We evaluated 12 advanced meditators and 14 non-meditators with cerebral blood flow (CBF) SPECT imaging at rest. Images were analyzed with both region of interest and statistical parametric mapping. The CBF of long-term meditators was significantly higher (p < .05) compared to non-meditators in the prefrontal cortex, parietal cortex, thalamus, putamen, caudate, and midbrain. There was also a significant difference in the thalamic laterality with long-term meditators having greater asymmetry. The observed changes associated with long-term meditation appear in structures that underlie the attention network and also those that relate to emotion and autonomic function.

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