Dispositional mindfulness and the attenuation of neural responses to emotional stimuli

Kirk Warren Brown, Robert J. Goodman, Michael Inzlicht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations

Abstract

Considerable research has disclosed how cognitive reappraisals and the modulation of emotional responses promote successful emotion regulation. Less research has examined how the early processing of emotion-relevant stimuli may create divergent emotional response consequences. Mindfulness-a receptive, non-evaluative form of attention-is theorized to foster emotion regulation, and the present study examined whether individual differences in mindfulness would modulate neural responses associated with the early processing of affective stimuli. Focus was on the late positive potential (LPP) of the event-related brain potential to visual stimuli varying in emotional valence and arousal. This study first found, replicating past research, that high arousal images, particularly of an unpleasant type, elicited larger LPP responses. Second, the study found that more mindful individuals showed lower LPP responses to high arousal unpleasant images, even after controlling for trait attentional control. Conversely, two traits contrasting with mindfulness-neuroticism and negative affectivity-were associated with higher LPP responses to high arousal unpleasant images. Finally, mindfulness was also associated with lower LPP responses to motivationally salient pleasant images (erotica). These findings suggest that mindfulness modulates neural responses in an early phase of affective processing, and contribute to understanding how this quality of attention may promote healthy emotional functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbernss004
Pages (from-to)93-99
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Emotion regulation
  • Event-related potentials
  • Late positive potential
  • Mindfulness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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