I’m always on the look-out for new mindfulness studies and projects.
I’ve mentioned a number of my “favorite” researchers in past blogs and recently a new researcher (at least new to me) has caught my attention.
Amishi Jha, PhD, out of the University of Miami, is the lead investigator of the Schofield Barracks Training and Research on the Neurobehavioral Growth (STRONG) project.
This project endeavors to investigate if and how resilience training can improve the working memory (complex thought, problem solving, and cognitive control of emotions) of soldiers who are living under extreme stress.
The work is ongoing, with the current study not scheduled to be completed until December, but they have published some very preliminary research in the journal Emotion.
Investigators selected US Marines who were involved in a high-stress predeployment program and divided them into two groups.
One group participated in an eight-week mindfulness-based Mind-Fitness Training course, while the second received no training and acted as a control.
Included in the training were skills to manage stress reactions, increase resilience to future stressors, and improve their unit’s effectiveness.
Both groups of soldiers were tested for their working memory capacity using brainwave recording technology before and after the mindfulness training period.
The control group’s working memory capacity decreased over the eight weeks.
Results for the training group depended on the time that they spent practicing the mindfulness skills: the longer the amount of practice time, the better the working memory capacity.
Couple of things to note: I’m disappointed that this study didn’t randomly assign because, as you know, that’s the gold standard of research.
But on the other hand, this is an area of research that hasn’t been fully explored and I’m excited about the possibility of mindfulness being used to build resilience in our soldiers as they ready for deployment.
While this study provided only preliminary findings, a current study should provide more insight into the possible benefits of mindfulness training for individuals in extreme stress situations.
It’s certainly a fascinating topic, and one that keeps coming up in our mindfulness programs.
Have you utilized mindfulness techniques with patients who are in high-risk professions?
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