Monika Wanis

Post Doctoral Student

One of society’s concerns for aging adults is the high risk of cognitive decline coupled with the lack of resources devoted to mitigating this impairment. Recent studies on mindfulness demonstrate the capacity of this practice on emotional and cognitive control processes; therefore, revealing effective treatment plans geared towards promoting greater overall brain functioning and a higher quality of life. Through neuroimaging techniques, we will examine how individual differences in mindfulness are associated with neural correlates of emotional regulation. We hypothesize that individuals with high levels of trait mindfulness will display patterns of neural activity indicative of enhanced emotional regulation during emotional regulation states relative to emotional observation states. This will be characterized by enhanced prefrontal cortex activation and reduced amygdala recruitment. Using behavioral data we will determine if mindfulness helps emotion regulation strategies by eliciting the usage of adaptive or maladaptive emotion regulation strategies. It is predicted that we will observe a positive correlation between individuals with higher levels of dispositional mindfulness and greater utilization of more adaptive emotion regulation strategies. In order to better comprehend the essence of mindfulness interventions we propose to investigate the involvement of mindfulness disposition on the emotional brain functioning of a group of older vs. younger adults. The majority of cognitive training programs for older individuals have been unsuccessful in reducing cognitive impairment. This proves that this field of research requires an essential need to explore alternative strategies to age-related cognitive decline. Our results will hopefully initiate plans of implementing mindfulness training programs with the intent of enhancing brain function and the lives of older adults. We hope to establish an integrative approach that will inspire future research and clinical practice in the aging field, and importantly, contribute to new, efficacious methods of reducing age-related cognitive decline in both healthy and pathological aging populations. 

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Department of Psychology Department of Anthropology
2650 Kenny Rd
Columbus, Ohio 43210