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Neuroscience early intervention

The Science

Recent advances in neuroscience are highlighting connections between emotion, social functioning and decision making that have the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the role of affect in education. In particular, the neurobiological evidence suggests that the aspects of cognition that we recruit most heavily in schools, namely learning, attention, memory, decision making and social functioning, are both profoundly affected by and subsumed within the processes of emotion. [1]

The following parts of the brain has shown evidence based benefits from mindfulness training.

The Amygdala – Aroused when detecting and reacting to emotions, especially difficult or strong emotions such as fear. This part of the brain is less activated[2] and has less gray matter density[3] following mindfulness training.

Hippocampus – Critical to learning and memory, and helps regulate the amygdala. This part of the brain is more active[4] and has more gray matter density [5] following mindfulness training.

Prefrontal Cortex – The part of the brain most associated with maturity, including regulating emotions and behaviours and making wise decisions. This part of the brain is more activated following mindfulness training.[6]

163

STUDIES FOUND REDUCED NEGATIVE EMOTIONS AND NEUROTICISM

4000

PEOPLE IN 47 TRIALS EXPERIENCED LESS ANXIETY & DEPRESSION

300

PEOPLE HAD NEUROIMAGING STUDIES FOUND THAT EIGHT BRAIN REGIONS WERE CONSISTENTLY ALTERED

Mindfulness with Students[7]

Studies find that youth benefit from learning mindfulness in terms of improved cognitive outcomes, social-emotional skills, and well being. In turn, such benefits may lead to long-term improvements in life. For example, social skills in kindergarten predict improved education, employment, crime, substance abuse and mental health outcomes in adulthood.[8]

Much evidence has shown how effective intervention in preschool and the early elementary years can improve childhood non cognitive skills in a lasting way.9,37—40 Enhancing these skills can have an impact in multiple areas and therefore has potential for positively affecting individuals as well as community public health substantially

Cognitive Outcomes

  • Attention and Focus [9]
  • Grades [10]

Social-emotional Skills

  • Emotion regulation [11]
  • Behaviour in school [12]
  • Empathy and perspective-taking [13]
  • Social-skills [14]

Well Being

  • Test anxiety [15]
  • Stress [16]
  • Posttraumatic symptoms [17]
  • Depression [18]

References

[1] Mary Helen Immordino-Yang & Antonio Damasio “We Feel, Therefore We Learn: The Relevance of Affective and Social Neuroscience to Education.” Mind, Brain and Education, 2007, 1(1): 3.

[2] Lutz, A., Slagter, H. A., Dunne, J. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2008). Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12(4), 163–169.

[3] Hölzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Evans, K. C., Hoge, E. A., Dusek, J. A., Morgan, L., … Lazar, S. W. (2010). Stress reduction correlates with structural changes in the amygdala. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 5(1), 11–17.

[4] Goldin, P. R., & Gross, J. J. (2010). Effects of mindfulness-­based stress reduction (MBSR) on emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder. Emotion, 10(1), 83.

[5] Hölzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S. M., Gard, T., & Lazar, S. W. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 191(1), 36–43.

[6] Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2010). A systematic review of neurobiological and clinical features of mindfulness meditations. Psychological Medicine, 40(08), 1239–1252.

[7] https://www.mindfulschools.org/about-mindfulness/research/#reference-10

[8] Jones, D. E., Greenberg, M., & Crowley, M. (2015). Early Social-­Emotional Functioning and Public Health: The Relationship Between Kindergarten Social Competence and Future Wellness. American Journal of Public Health, 105(11), 2283–2290.

[9] Baijal, S., Jha, A. P., Kiyonaga, A., Singh, R., & Srinivasan, N. (2011). The influence of concentrative meditation training on the development of attention networks during early adolescence. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 1-9.

[10] Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Oberlander, T. F., & Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing cognitive and social–emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: A randomized controlled trial. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 52-66.

[11] Metz, S. M., Frank, J. L., Reibel, D., Cantrell, T., Sanders, R., & Broderick, P. C. (2013). The effectiveness of the learning to BREATHE program on adolescent emotion regulation. Research in Human Development, 10(3), 252–272.

[12] Semple, R. J., Lee, J., Rosa, D., & Miller, L. F. (2010). A randomized trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for children: promoting mindful attention to enhance social-emotional resiliency in children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 19(2), 218–229.

[13] Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Oberlander, T. F., & Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing cognitive and social–emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: A randomized controlled trial. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 52-66.

[14] Napoli, M., Krech, P. R., & Holley, L. C. (2005). Mindfulness Training for Elementary School Students. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 21(1), 99–125.

[15] Napoli, M., Krech, P. R., & Holley, L. C. (2005). Mindfulness Training for Elementary School Students. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 21(1), 99–125.

[16] Zenner, C., Herrnleben-Kurz, S., & Walach, H. (2014). Mindfulness-based interventions in schools—a systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 5.

[17] Sibinga, E. M. S., Webb, L., Ghazarian, S. R., & Ellen, J. M. (2016). School-­Based Mindfulness Instruction: An RCT. Pediatrics, 137(1), 1-­8.

[18] Sibinga, E. M. S., Webb, L., Ghazarian, S. R., & Ellen, J. M. (2016). School-­Based Mindfulness Instruction: An RCT. Pediatrics, 137(1), 1-­8.

[19] https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2016/10/18/the-many-benefits-of-meditation-for-children/#74d81011dbe3

[20] https://goamra.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Black_2015_state-of-science.pdf