We propose to extend our Center for Excellence for Research in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CERC)-The Wisconsin Center for the Neuroscience and Psychophysiology of Meditation-for a second five-year period. This will be a highly focused center dedicated to novel and cutting edge research on the mechanisms by meditation works. In the next five-year period, two of the original three projects will continue wih important new components. Project 1 (Davidson, PI) will examine the impact of the explicit use of mindfulness and loving-kindness-compassion strategies on emotion regulation, specifically neural, hormonal and behavioral (including facial electromyography in the scanner) indices of reactivity to and recovery from pictures of human suffering and flourishing. Project 2 will be directed by William Busse, a well-known asthma researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Based upon collaborative work by Busse and Davidson that established the neural circuitry activated by asthma-relevant emotional stimuli that predicts inflammatory response in asthmatics, we propose to examine the impact of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on altering the neural signals and inflammatory response in the lung in a group of asthmatics. The third project will be focused on sleep and directed by Giulio Tononi. This project will extend our previous findings by examining whether the increase in gamma oscillations during NREM sleep in meditators is associated with changes in mental content during sleep. In addition, relations between sleep and waking EEG and between sleep EEG changes and waking performance on cognitive and attentional measures, and experience sampling measures, will be studied. Each of these projects will be conducted with the identical group of participants recruited through our Core that will include those randomized assigned to MBSR, the active comparison intervention we explicitly developed to test against MBSR~the Health Enhancement Program (HEP)~or a wait list (WL), as well as Long-Term Meditators (LTMs). We believe that the understanding of the mechanisms by which meditation produces changes in behavioral and biological processes will be dramatically advanced through the work of this CERC.
Meditation is widely used throughout the United States to improve well-being and to help relieve suffering associated with many diseases, yet there is preciously little understanding of how meditation works. In this CERC, we propose to extend the research we began during the previous grant period that seeks to understand the neural bases and biological and behavioral correlates of two different forms of meditation. This research will shed on the mechanisms by which meditation exerts its effects.
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