Unraveling chronic pain...
Mindfulness practice has been shown to reduce pain, as well as both the individual sensory-discriminative and affective-emotional components of pain. These findings are believed to be related to greater activation of brain areas associated with sensory and/or salience processing, and decreased activation in prefrontal cortical regions linked to evaluative and/or emotional responses. These functional brain changes are believed to be associated with enhanced focus on the present moment and regulation of emotional responses.
Training of attentional focus (via mindfulness or meditative practices) has been demonstrated to be accompanied by activation in brain areas related to cognitive control and brain networks supporting self-referential processing, such as the Default Mode Network (DMN). Trait mindfulness (i.e. being mindful as part of a person’s disposition, or a ‘character trait’) is known to be associated with decreased activation across DMN nodes following short-term (< 1-month) and longer-term meditative practice. With this in mind, the authors of this study investigated whether untrained trait mindfulness is associated with differential responses to pain stimuli prior to any meditation training, and whether these intrinsic differences reflect differential patterns of resting-state functional connectivity.
We’ve added a new category to the database called ‘Mindfulness & Meditation’ - this is such an interesting area of research with potentially huge implications for the management of chronic pain!
THIS WEEK'S RESEARCH REVIEW: “Trait Mindfulness Is Associated with Lower Pain Reactivity and Connectivity of the Default Mode Network”
This paper was published in the Journal of Pain (2019) and this Review is posted in Recent Reviews, Pain - Chronic Pain & Biopsychosocial Model, Mindfulness & Meditation (NEW) and the 2020 Archive.