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Mindfulness Meditation Training and Self-Referential Processing in Social Anxiety Disorder: Behavioral and Neural Effects

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This study examined the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on the brain–behavior mechanisms of self-referential processing in patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD). Sixteen patients underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while encoding self-referential, valence, and orthographic features of social trait adjectives. Post-MBSR, 14 patients completed neuroimaging. Compared to baseline, MBSR completers showed (a) increased self-esteem and decreased anxiety, (b) increased positive and decreased negative self-endorsement, (c) increased activity in a brain network related to attention regulation, and (d) reduced activity in brain systems implicated in conceptual-linguistic self-view. MBSR-related changes in maladaptive or distorted social self-view in adults diagnosed with SAD may be related to modulation of conceptual self-processing and attention regulation. Self-referential processing may serve as a functional biobehavioral target to measure the effects of mindfulness training.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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