Mindfulness-related differences in neural response to own infant negative versus positive emotion contexts

Heidemarie K. Laurent, Dorianne Wright, Megan Finnegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Mindfulness is thought to promote well-being by shaping the way people respond to challenging social-emotional situations. Current understanding of how this occurs at the neural level is based on studies of response to decontextualized emotion stimuli that may not adequately represent lived experiences. In this study, we tested relations between mothers’ dispositional mindfulness and neural responses to their own infant in different emotion-eliciting contexts. Mothers (n = 25) engaged with their 3-month-old infants in videorecorded tasks designed to elicit negative (arm restraint) or positive (peekaboo) emotion. During a functional MRI session, mothers were presented with 15-s clips from these recordings, and dispositional mindfulness scores were used to predict their neural responses to arm restraint > peekaboo videos. Mothers higher in nonreactivity showed relatively lower activation to their infants’ arm restraint compared to peekaboo videos in hypothesized regions—insula and dorsal prefrontal cortex—as well as non-hypothesized regions. Other mindfulness dimensions were associated with more limited areas of lower (nonjudgment) and higher (describing) activation in this contrast. Mothers who were higher in mindfulness generally activated more to the positive emotion context and less to the negative emotion context in perceptual and emotion processing areas, a pattern that may help to explain mindfulness-related differences in well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-76
Number of pages7
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
StatePublished - Apr 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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