A Novel Research Direction for Contemplative Neuroscience with Sonication Enhanced Mindfulness Acquisition Jay Sanguinetti , Shinzen Young (Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ ) PL5
The field of contemplative neuroscience has grown significantly over the past two decades and has begun to uncover how mindfulness influences neural function. Mindfulness-based interventions have grown in popularity, too, as they help to ameliorate many mental and physical symptoms. However, there is a considerable barrier to entry for many patients and first-time practitioners because mindfulness training is difficult and time-consuming. A technology that accelerates mindfulness training would be clinically valuable because the benefits would be more accessible to patients. In this talk, we will discuss our efforts to create a novel paradigm to accelerate mindfulness training with an emerging form of noninvasive neuromodulation called transcranial ultrasound (TUS). Accumulating evidence suggests that low-intensity ultrasound can be focused through the skull with millimeter precision to modulate brain function. By modulating targeted brain networks, like the Default Mode Network, with TUS during mindfulness training we seek to facilitate the acquisition of the core attention skills at the heart of mindful awareness. Our approach will create a new research direction for contemplative neuroscience, allowing us to use causal testing to examine ideas about how mindfulness influences neural function. Additionally, our paradigm may make the benefits of mindfulness more widely accessible to patients by accelerating mindfulness-based interventions. We will outline our recent pilot experiments demonstrating the feasibility of using TUS to accelerate mindfulness training.