A neurophysiological investigation of mindfulness training in secondary schools: Modifications in cognitive control and emotion processing in adolescents

Sanger, Kevanne Louise (2016) A neurophysiological investigation of mindfulness training in secondary schools: Modifications in cognitive control and emotion processing in adolescents. PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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Over the last decade an increasing number of studies have investigated the impact of mindfulness-based training on young people’s well-being and cognitive performance. There has also been an upsurge of interest from educators and policy makers given the potential of mindfulness training to enhance well-being, which is becoming a key area of health and education policy change. Despite this keen interest, our understanding of the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying mindfulness from a developmental perspective is limited. Nevertheless, such understanding could help guide further research and implementation efforts within education. To that end, this project aimed to discuss and evaluate a mindfulness-based training programme for older adolescents who are at a sensitive period of psychological development, both from a neurodevelopmental and clinical mental health perspective. The first three chapters of this thesis provide its theoretical grounding, including an overview of the current state of adolescent well-being, a review of developmental and neuroscientific mindfulness intervention research, and introduces electroencephalographic methodology. Chapters Four and Five then outline the longitudinal mindfulness intervention studies with 16-18 year old students following a non-randomised wait-list control design. The findings indicated that an 8-week mindfulness programme can result in enhanced attention inhibition for task-irrelevant stimuli (indexed by more a negative N200 event-related potential [ERP]) and sustained attention to emotional faces (marked by maintained P3b positivity over time). These ERP modifications were supported by converging evidence from self-report measures – increases in metacognition and well-being, as well as high levels of course acceptability. The potential ramifications of these findings are discussed further in Chapters Six and Seven, including the broader implications for further developmental research on mindfulness, and well-being policy in schools. In conclusion, mindfulness-based training in schools may facilitate specific neural maturation processes in older adolescents, particularly within the frontal lobe regions associated with cognitive control, which could positively impact their learning and emotion regulation skills.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Departments: College of Health and Behavioural Sciences > School of Psychology
Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2017 09:18
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2017 09:18
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/10258
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