Mindfulness For COINTELPRO Victims #5

Brain Research and Therapy for Depression


Nowadays, it is no longer uncommon for clinicians in America to incorporate meditations-- particularlly “mindfulness”-- into their psychotherapy. Beneath this new trend underlies the fact that the effect of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is regarded as a scientifically validated method which could help improve our mental health. In fact, more and more scientific evidence is found in terms of biological changes through meditations. Among the others, mindfulness meditation is effective for managing depression symptoms because mindfulness enhances a skill of non-judgemental self-observation, which consequently reduces self-criticism. Olivia Longe and the others’ research (2010) Having a word with yourself: Neural correlates of self-criticism and self-reassurance” is one of the research on the brain mechanism of self-criticism. The remarkable point of Longe’s research is that they were able to specify exactly which parts of the brain are responsible for elicitting people’s negative responses, such as anger, contempt, or disgust, by using self-report tests and fMRI. Research suggests that these negative emotions can generate pathogenic self-criticism. Furthermore, self-criticism is associated with psychological disorders including social anxiety, inhibition, self-harm, and post traumatic disorder. Accordingly, self-criticism (and self-reassurance as a counter ability) are linked to onset of depression. Therefore, identifying the regions of the brain which are responsible for self-criticism and self-reassurance will be a stepping-stone for coping with depression.  

To conduct the experiment, the researchers recruited 17 right handed females from Aston University students and staff. The mean age was 24.71 years old and the standard deviation was 4.21 years. The major reason why they chose only female participants was to avoid any biases affected by sex. Likewise, only right-handed people were selected to eliminate any biases in terms of the differences between right and left brain activity. Therefore, this sampling style is considered to be stratified sampling. Furthermore, since these characteristics of the participants were pre-determined prior to the experiment, this is a quasi experiment. In terms of generalizability, they need more replicating researches since their small sample was not adequate to make general conclusion.

    Before scanning the brain, participants were asked to complete self-report surveys which evaluated their level of self-criticism and self-reassurance. For the next step, 120 statements were visually presented to participants as stimuli. If a participant regarded these statements as describing personal rejections, failures, or mistakes, the stimuli could elicit negative emotions. 60 of those statements depicted a negative scenario, for example, “A third job rejection letter in a row arrives in post.” In contrast, the rest 60 statements depicted neutral scenario, such as “The second free local newspaper in a row arrives in the post.” Then, participants were asked to imagine those situations as their own experience while the researchers simultaneously scanned their brain by fMRI. Finally, t-test was used to find the mean in the scores of self-criticism and self-reassurance scales. Likewise, the mean image of brain scanning was determined from four image pictures of each participant’s brain. 

 prefrontal cortex   
The research entailed the following three findings. Firstly, activation of dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) and dorsal Anterior Cingulate (dAC), which are responsible for individual’s detecting errors, was observed in individual’s self-criticism, but not in self-reassurance. Hence, dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex dorsal anterior cingulate seem to be the part which generates negative moods such as inhibition. Secondly, in contrast, activation of left superior gyrus and insula was not observed when researchers asked participants to reduce focusing attention from their error or mistakes. Instead, they found that self-assurance corresponded to activation of left superior gyrus and insula, which are known as regions linked to expression of compassion or empathy. This is a fascinating finding because self compassion is also concidered to alleviate depression symptoms, which will be further discussed in the next journal #6. Thirdly, regarding the different functions of PFC, dorsal and ventral PFC divide an individual's tendencies to become either self-critic or self-reassured; dorsal PFC responsible for self-criticism, and ventral PFC responsible for self-reassurance. 
    Based on the results, the researchers concluded that there are positive correlations between individual’s tendencies to become self-critical and high activity in dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (PFC), and hippocampus & amygdala complex. On the other hand, tendencies to become self-reassuring were found to be corresponding to outstanding activity in left superior gyrus and insula, and ventral PFC.
dorsal/ventral PFC

Accordingly, rapid development of brain-research technologies, such as PET, fMRI, and EEG, have enabled scientists to discover which part of the brain is responsible for a certain mental activity. As the results have shown, these findings contribute to scientifical evaluation of meditation effects.    





Longe, O., Maratos, F. A., Gilbert, P., Evans, G., Volker, F., Rockliff, H., & Rippon, G. (January 15, 2010). Having a word with yourself: Neural correlates of self-criticism and self-reassurance. Neuroimage, 49, 2, 1849-1856.

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The Writer of 『拝啓 ギャングストーカー犯罪者の皆様』(Dear COINTELPRO Criminals) and <集団ストーカーの死> The Death of Gangstalker; also Co-Editor of 「新しいタイプの人権侵害・暴力」 Unprecedented Human Rights Violation

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