Mechanisms of Mindfulness

Mechanisms of Mindfulness. A review of:Hölzel, B. K., Lazar, S. W., Gard, T., Schuman, Z.-O., Vago, D. R., & Ott, U. (2011). How does mindfulness meditation work? Proposing mechanisms of action from a conceptual and neural perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(6), 537-559. doi:10.1177/174569 by Susan Thorn. Considering the wave of emerging research investigating the effects mindfulness and/or meditation has on mental health and physiological functioning, Holzel, Lazar, Gard, Schuman-Olivier, Vago, & Ott (2011) identified a need in the literature that provides a more comprehensive framework for reference of the functions of mindfulness. They propose a definition, more specifically, that includes both a conceptual and neural perspective of the mechanisms that take action toward effectiveness, particularly creating a multi-faceted model that can be interchanged when analyzing effects among specific mental health disorders or when analyzing the relationship with various types of neuronal-functioning. Holzel, et al. (2011) propose the benefit of creating a working model of mindfulness meditation would not only assist in propelling the scientific knowledge base toward further understanding of all aspects of this research area, but also aid in gaining progress in building mental health treatment practices that better utilize specific meditation regimens focusing on primary symptomology. They specify the objective of this paper is neither meant to be seen as a concrete explanation of how mindfulness meditation works nor a complete account of the literature, but meant to provoke debate regarding the subject within the scholarly community while creating a base for the construction of future research. The need is discussed in relation to the majority of the literature reviewed focused exclusively on the process and effects of mindfulness meditation and not identifying possible explanation to how it works and how it can be used to work more efficiently. Mindfulness is defined within this article as “nonjudgmental attention to experiences in the present moment (Holzel, et al., 2011, pg. 538).” Some of the more simplistic attempts within the literature to create a description of the mechanisms of mindfulness are described as containing two...

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Imagine That! Findings in Hypothetical Trauma Exposure and Treatment Choices Amongst Law Enforcement Officers.

Imagine That! Findings in Hypothetical Trauma Exposure and Treatment Choices Amongst Law Enforcement Officers. A review of:Becker, C. B., Meyer, G., Price, J. S., Graham, M. M., Arsena, A., Armstrong, D.A., Ramon, E. (2009). Law enforcement preferences for PTSD treatment and crisis management alternatives. Behavior Research and Therapy, 47(3), 245-253. by Sarah E. Barwick. Evidence based treatments (EBT), particularly exposure techniques, may be underutilized in the treatment of PTSD due to several patient and therapist factors. For example, a therapist may feel nervous about their lack of training in EBT or may feel distressed over patient discomfort. Research to date has focused primarily on therapist factors that limit the use of EBT, whereas research on patient factors that limit EBT remains limited. Furthermore, previous studies have examined primarily collegiate samples, limiting the generalizibility of the findings. In an attempt to expand on previous research, the current study focused on active and aspiring law enforcement officers, a population of particular interest when examining PTSD. Law enforcement officers are commonly exposed to trauma, and often experience significant symptomology related to this exposure. Participants (N= 379) included 156 active law enforcement officers, 108 police academy cadets, and 99 criminal justice students. Researchers aimed to expand on investigations conducted by Becker et al (2007), which examined PTSD treatment preferences in similar samples. After giving informed consent, participants read a hypothetical traumatic scenario in which they were asked to imagine shooting a 15 year-old suspect in self-defense. The scenario then described an emergence of hypothetical PTSD symptoms following their alleged exposure that interfered with their professional and personal functioning. Following this, participants read through randomly ordered descriptions of treatment options, including Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR), Exposure therapy, medication treatment (Zoloft), Brief Eclectic Psychotherapy (BEP), and Psychodynamic therapy. Each participant then rated their projected credibility of each treatment, choosing their top and bottom two choices using a modified version of the Credibility Scale (CS; Addis & Carpenter, 1999). An additional evaluation of Critical...

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Are Boys Better at Math Than Girls? The True Reason for Math and Science Gender Inequality.

Are boys better at math than girls? The true reason for math and science gender inequality.A review of:Huguet, P. & Regner, I. (2009, in-press). Counter-stereotypic beliefs in math do not protect school girls from stereotype threat. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.by Lori-Lyn Gulley Boynton. Stereotype Threat (ST) occurs when individuals perform at a lower level than their potential ability due to a perceived threat of confirming or disconfirming a negative stereotype about their group’s performance. ST has been found to effect female’s math performance, and spatial reasoning in the general population, thus contributing to a lack of female advancement in scientific careers (Ben-Zeev, Duncan, & Forbes, 2005; Cadinu, Maass, Rosabianca, & Kiesner, 2005; McGlone & Aronson, 2006).Studies using samples of elementary and middle school students in the general population have also found that ST may influence girl’s performance by preventing them from performing at their optimal level (Ambady, Shih, Kim, & Pittinsky, 2001; Hyde and Lynn, 2006). When this occurs, studies fail to show a gender gap on math tests which may be severely misleading. Therefore, in elementary and middle school populations, ST may still be operating even if it is not reflected in a gender gap. When ST goes unrecognized, it can have detrimental effects on female students without anyone realizing it. Yet, the knowledge of negative stereotypes does not ensure that ST will be prevented.Huguet & Regner (2009), designed a study with the assumption that girls who have counter-stereotypic beliefs may not be protected from ST. They included 199 middle-school students (92 girls and 107 boys) ranging from 11 to 13-years-old, from eight public schools in France. The students were all given a task that has been found to detect ST by integrating visual-perceptual and spatial skills, along with cognitive and meta-cognitive processes necessary for academic performance (Kirkwood, Weiler, Bernstein, Forbes, & Waber, 2001). All of the students were given the identical test, but some were informed that the test would measure their geometry ability, while others were told the test measured...

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Physiological Arousal and Anxiety Sensitivity in Socially Anxious Youth: Implications for Treatment

Mar 17, 09 Physiological Arousal and Anxiety Sensitivity in Socially Anxious Youth: Implications for Treatment

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Sensitivity in Socially Anxious Youth: Implications for Treatment A review of: Anderson, E.R. & Hope, D.A. (2009). The relationship among social phobia, objective and perceived physiological reactivity, and anxiety sensitivity in an adolescent population. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 23, 18-26 by Denise Fournier. Research on social phobia has introduced a number of theories to explain the development and maintenance of this anxiety disorder. The existing research regarding the physiological differences between anxious and non-anxious youth has introduced possible explanations for the development and maintenance of anxiety experienced by socially phobic individuals. However, the research leaves many questions unanswered. The preponderance of research that has been conducted to study the evidence of physiological arousal in socially phobic individuals under anxiety-provoking situations has been conducted with adult samples, with only three studies having been conducted with a sample of children and adolescents. To attempt to provide clarity to the issue of physiological arousal and its manifestation in socially phobic youth, Anderson and Hope developed a study with the primary goal of investigating objective versus perceived physiological arousal and the differences in anxiety sensitivity between non-anxious and socially phobic adolescents. The current study included a sample of 392 adolescents (213 girls and 179 boys) between the ages of thirteen and seventeen. Eighty five participants with social phobia were included in the study to investigate the differences in objective and perceived physiological arousal between the anxious and non-anxious adolescents. Anderson and Hope (2009) hypothesized that the adolescents with social phobia would exhibit greater increases in blood pressure and heart rate, and show higher levels of perceived physiological arousal and anxiety sensitivity than the non-anxious participants. The Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI; Beck, Epstein, Brown, & Steer, 1988) was used to measure perceived anxiety and perceived physiological arousal during two anxiety-provoking tasks. Heart rate and blood pressure measurements were also assessed during each task. The results of the study indicated no significant difference between the anxious and non-anxious participants on physiological arousal, as measured by heart rate and blood pressure....

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Specificity of Intolerance of Uncertainty on Social Anxiety

Feb 18, 09 Specificity of Intolerance of Uncertainty on Social Anxiety

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Specificity of Intolerance of Uncertainty on Social AnxietyA review of:Boelen, P. A. & Reijntjes, A. (2009). Intolerance of uncertainty and social anxiety. Journal of Anxiety Disorders. 23, 130-135By Kristen Perkins In this article Boelen and Reijntjes (2009)seek to examine the link between intolerance of uncertainty (IU) with the severity of social anxiety symptoms. Previous research has indicated IU as highly significant in individuals suffering with GAD and OCD while less predictive of depression and other anxiety disorders including panic disorder. Since IU is operationally defined as finding uncertainty stressful, fearing that uncertainty reflects poorly on the individual, and blocks constructive action, it appeared reasonable that this type of intolerance of ambiguity may be reflected in social anxiety through the fear, avoidance and physical discomfort frequently observed in those suffering from this disorder. The authors described two main goals of this study. The first was to examine the potential of IU to account for the variance within symptom severity of social anxiety while controlling for multiple previously established cognitive correlates. These correlates included fear of negative evaluation, anxiety sensitivity, low self-esteem, perfectionism, and pathological worry. The authors also indicated that they controlled for neuroticism so as to evaluate the other cognitive correlates independent of this feature. The second goal was to seek to further increase the understanding of the specificity of IU to social anxiety, OCD, GAD, and depression with an expectation that IU would indeed be related to symptoms for each of the anxiety disorders while not directly related to depression symptoms. Participants (126 total, average age 47, 91% female) were provided with a consent form, informational letter and 11 self-report questionnaires measuring the constructs of intolerance of uncertainty, fear of negative evaluation, perfectionism, pathological worry, self-esteem, anxiety sensitivity, social phobia, depression, GAD, OCD, and neuroticism. To address the first goal discussed by the authors of this article, results of the statistical analysis suggest that as expected, fear of negative evaluation, anxiety sensitivity, pathological worry and low self-esteem were significantly correlated with social anxiety....

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