Alfred Grant Success for Dr Neil Bailey in exploring the mechanisms by which mindfulness works

Is the mechanism of action of mindfulness meditation an alteration to excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter function in the prefrontal cortex?

Mindfulness has been shown to be effective for depression prevention and shows improved outcomes for other mental illnesses such as anxiety and chronic pain.

Individuals who practice mindfulness show improved attentional function and altered brain activity. However, the cause of these changes is under-researched.

One probable mechanism of action is altered neural excitation / inhibition balances in the prefrontal cortex (responsible for attentional function). This excitation / inhibition balance can be probed using both transcranial magnetic stimulation combined with EEG (TMS-EEG), and with EEG modelling techniques. The aim of this study is to use TMS-EEG and EEG modelling techniques to determine whether altered excitation / inhibition balances lead to improved attention in experienced meditators.

The results will enhance our understanding of how mindfulness improves mental health, and potentially provide a more targeted approach to treatment of particular illnesses, and a theoretically justified method for improving the parameters of mindfulness interventions.

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