Conferencia “Effects of mindfulness on brain electrical activity” (Resumen)

En el marco del Taller Science Art & Cognition 2018, la Dra. Araceli Sanz Martin, dará la conferencia titulada “Effects of mindfulness on brain electrical activity” el viernes 28 de septiembre.

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“Effects of mindfulness on brain electrical activity”

Dra. Araceli Sanz1, Mtro. Arturo Ron1, Mtro. Rubén D Castañeda2 y María Esparza2.

1 Laboratorio de Estrés y Neurodesarrollo del Instituto de Neurociencias de la UdeG;
2 Centro de Atención Terapéutica (CEDAT).

Mindfulness comprises a series of techniques oriented to the focus of attention in the experience of the present moment. Several studies have suggested that the regular practice of these techniques can represent an intervention tool in clinical conditions, since this can favor behavioral changes, as well as brain structure and activity. In this regard, works of electroencephalography and image not only have reported changes in activity and brain structure during the exercise of mindfulness, but also, long-term changes that persist beyond the exercise of this technique, mainly in areas such as the prefrontal cortex, the insula, the hippocampus, the corpus callosum and the amygdala, as well as in tracts that interconnect these structures. These changes have been associated with a greater ability to regulate attention and emotion, as well as an increase in prosocial behavior and executive functioning.

In particular, some studies that have evaluated EEG activity before and after mindfulness training, have reported changes in the activity of the alpha and theta bands (mainly), characterized by a generalized decrease in absolute power and increase in the correlation between frontal and central areas. These changes have been related to alertness, attention and sensory receptivity, which can favor more complex processes such as emotional regulation and various executive functions.

As well as “scientific mindfulness”, there are also other techniques based on meditation, which requires a detailed approach based on techniques that allow knowing, explaining and differentiating the mechanisms at the brain level that underlie the changes reported in behavioral and cognitive aspects.

In our laboratory, we have studied the effects of mindfulness training in the executive functioning and EEG activity of both high school adolescents with low academic performance and behavior problems as well as young people in conflict with the law. In the first study, sixteen males aged 12-14 years were evaluated and integrated two groups: mindfulness and control. We found an increase in both performances in tasks measuring executive functioning and in the right intrafrontal EEG correlation in the alpha1 and alpha2 bands. In the second study, sixty-five young males aged 15-23 years who had committed a violent crime were evaluated. Thirty nine males were assigned to the mindfulness group and twenty six to the control group. After the treatment, the mindfulness group presented a significant increase in performance in tasks related to the follow-up of rules and the risk-benefit processing, as well as an increase in the reaction time and decrease of the impulsive responses in a stop-signal task. In addition, this group showed an increase in the right intra-hemispheric correlation in the delta, theta and gamma bands, among frontal, central and parietal areas.

In conclusion, the practice of mindfulness improves executive functioning especially in those processes that have to do with inhibition and risk taking. This is associated with an increase in right functional connectivity both between the frontal regions and between the fronto-central and fronto-parietal areas.

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