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Stanford psychophysiology lab: social anxiety, mindfulness with kids, & loving kindness

Emotional reappraisal (changing the way we see a situation) and emotional suppression (inhibiting our already present emotional response) have very different effects on our feelings, relationships and wellbeing.  As a generalisation, reappraisal tends to work well, while suppression comes at higher cost.  I wrote about this last month  in a first post on James Gross's Psychophysiology Lab at Stanford . I went on, in a subsequent post, to put together a handout on reappraisal entitled Getting a better perspective.

Because there is so much interesting research being conducted at the Stanford Lab, I thought it worthwhile to write a further post mentioning some of this other work.  The webpage detailing their current research projects mentions nine different areas.  These include the following descriptions:

Clinical interventions for individuals with social anxiety disorder
We are conducting clinical interventions using cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness meditation based stress reduction for adults with social anxiety disorder. These clinical fMRI research studies are examining the brain-behavioral mechanisms of therapeutic change associated with two distinct psychotherapy treatment programs.

Emotional regulation and social-cognitive processing in social anxiety
This project assesses behavioral, experiential, autonomic, and brain responses in individuals with social anxiety. This research investigates how anxiety impacts brain-behavior correlates of emotional reactivity, emotion regulation, and social processing. 

Mindfulness-based attention and stress reduction training for children and families
This project involves training children in attention regulation and stress reduction skills through mindfulness based skills training (MBSR) courses taught in local schools and at Stanford University.   

I also mentioned before the many free full text articles of their research downloadable from the Stanford site.  I give details of four good recent papers below, including the Hutcherson et al research which is a currently rare example of a study on loving kindness meditation that looks at the meditation's effects on how we relate to others (rather than just its effects on ourselves): 

Drabant, E. M., K. McRae, et al. (2009). "Individual differences in typical reappraisal use predict amygdala and prefrontal responses." Biol Psychiatry 65(5): 367-73.  [Free Full Text

Goldin, P., Ramel, W., & Gross, J.J. (in press). Mindfulness meditation training and self-referential processing in social anxiety disorder: Behavioral and neural effects. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy.  (Sadly this study doesn't yet have its PDF downloadable from the site - but it looks pretty interesting and, no doubt, the PDF will become available once the paper is published).

Goldin, P.R., Manber, T., Hakimi, S., Canli, T., & Gross, J.J. (2009). Neural bases of social anxiety disorder: Emotional reactivity and cognitive regulation during social and physical threat. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 66, 170-180.  [Free Full Text]

Hutcherson, C. A., E. M. Seppala, et al. (2008). "Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness." Emotion 8(5): 720-4.  [Free Full Text]  


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