Mindfulness

An exciting recent advance in the lab’s research agenda has been an examination of the impact of meditation and mindfulness techniques on attenuating mind-wandering.  Conceptually speaking mind-wandering, which entails the mind’s drifting away from the here and now, can be conceived of as something akin to the opposite of mindfulness, in which the mind is focused on the present.  A recent article by Mrazek, Smallwood, and Schooler (2012) demonstrated that individuals who show a penchant for mindfulness (as measured by a variety of pre-existing self report measures) are less inclined to mind-wander in the laboratory.   Perhaps even more importantly this study further demonstrated that a simple technique for enhancing mindfulness (attending to the breath for 10 minutes) reduces the behavioral consequences of mind-wandering.    We are also extremely encouraged by results of a recent meditation training study (Mrazek et al, 2013) in which undergraduates received either a two week meditation class or a two week nutrition class.  Comparisons between performance on pre and post test measures of both mind-wandering and reading comprehension revealed a marked reduction in mind-wandering and improvement in reading performance for participants in the meditation training condition, but no change for participants in the nutrition condition.  

News

Selected Publications

Researchers

Jonathan Schooler

My lab’s research takes a “big picture” perspective in attempting to understand the nature of mental life, and in particular consciousness. Combining empirical, philosophical, and contemplative traditions, we address broad questions that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Michael Mrazek

Michael Mrazek, Ph.D. is the director of research at the University of California's Center for Mindfulness & Human Potential. His research identifies innovative ways to increase the effectiveness of mindfulness training, particularly in high schools. He also tests the limits of how much a person can improve through intensive evidence-based training programs that target health, mindfulness, and self-control. 

Alissa Mrazek

 Alissa Mrazek, Ph.D. develops research-based interventions that enhance self-regulation—the ability to direct one's attention, thoughts, emotions, and behavior in line with one's personal goals. In addition to designing self-regulation interventions, she evaluates their efficacy and underlying mechanisms.  Her research extends across lab studies and intervention contexts with a key focus on examining the fidelity and efficacy of school-based interventions.

Shivang Shelat

Shivang is the current manager of the META Lab. His interests lie in human-machine interaction, consciousness, and fatigue. He is assisting Asa Young in his research regarding interpersonal synchrony via neurally generated electromagnetic fields and is designing an experiment that tests the effects of meditation on psychomotor vigilance task performance.

Maliha Khan

Maliha is a fourth year Biopsychology student. Her relentless passion to both learn and share mindfulness and self development techniques has brought her to CMHP, where she is contributing to the development of the Mindful Education Initiative. Her passions include teaching yoga, personal and community development, cognitive neuroscience, the idea of consciousness, and the power of the human mind.

Jinny Kim

My name is Jinny Kim, and I am a 3rd year Biopsychology major and Applied Psychology minor. I am assisting James Elliott regarding fluctuations of experience and EEG during meditation. My specific interests are dream analysis and psychotherapy for criminals.

Megan Lee

Megan Lee

Megan is a fourth-year Biopsychology major assisting Claire Zedelius in research studies on curiosity, creativity and mind-wandering. Her interests include consciousness, mindfulness and epigenetics. 

Kiana Sabugo

Kiana is an undergraduate Psychological & Brain Sciences and Philosophy double major. She is currently assisting James Elliott in studying fluctuations of mental states during meditation using EEG. Her interests include meta-awareness and belief in free will/determinism.

Brooke Schwartzman

Brooke is a third year Psychological and Brain Sciences Major. She has a keen interest in mindfulness, complex trauma, neuroplasticity, and the interplay between these domains. Brooke is currently assisting Alex Landry in his exploration into dehumanization in intergroup conflict.

Ashley Scott

Ashley is a third year Psych and Brain Sciences major. She is excited to be a part of the CMHP team studying mindfulness techniques and media multitasking for high school students across the US. My interests include educational and developmental psychology as well as running and calligraphy!