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This study was designed to test the hypothesis that mindfulness involves sustained attention, attention switching, inhibition of elaborative processing and non-directed attention. Healthy adults were tested before and after random assignment to an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course (n = 39) or a wait-list control (n = 33). Testing included measures of sustained attention, attention switching, Stroop interference (as a measure of inhibition of elaborative processing), detection of objects in consistent or inconsistent scenes (as a measure of non-directed attention), as well as self-report measures of emotional well-being and mindfulness. Participation in the MBSR course was associated with significantly greater improvements in emotional well-being and mindfulness, but no improvements in attentional control relative to the control group. However, improvements in mindfulness after MBSR were correlated with improvements in object detection. We discuss the implications of these results as they relate to the role of attention in mindfulness. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

This special issue focuses on new developments that make up the expanding envelope of mindfulness-based psychological research. Briefly, the articles in this issue include the description and validation of a trait version of the Toronto Mindfulness Scale, an exploration of the mechanisms underlying the association between increased mindfulness and psychological adjustment, an investigation of whether practicing mindfulness between sessions contributes to symptom improvement, a study of the neural mechanisms underlying increased mindfulness in social anxiety disorder (SAD), and finally an evaluation of whether attachment style moderates participant response to mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). The articles in this current special issue provide examples of recent areas of investigation in the pursuit of better understanding the growing clinical application of mindfulness-based interventions in Western health care. Potentially, these ongoing efforts will further improve the effectiveness of these treatments to reduce suffering.

This study evaluated mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), a group intervention designed to train recovered recurrently depressed patients to disengage from dysphoria-activated depressogenic thinking that may mediate relapse/recurrence. Recovered recurrently depressed patients ( n = 145) were randomized to continue with treatment as usual or, in addition, to receive MBCT. Relapse/recurrence to major depression was assessed over a 60-week study period. For patients with 3 or more previous episodes of depression (77% of the sample), MBCT significantly reduced risk of relapse/recurrence. For patients with only 2 previous episodes, MBCT did not reduce relapse/recurrence. MBCT offers a promising cost-efficient psychological approach to preventing relapse/recurrence in recovered recurrently depressed patients.