Study Links Mindfulness to Brain Changes and Pain Sensitivity

January 1, 2019   |   Evidence in Integrative Healthcare

People who are more naturally mindful (paying attention to the present moment without over-reacting to it), differ among individuals. There is evidence showing mindful people tend to have less pain. A study of 76 healthy people who had no experience with meditation completed a Frieburg Mindfulness Inventory, evaluating innate mindfulness. Subjects with a higher innate mindfulness score, reported less pain to a thermal probe delivering a series of brief, uncomfortable heat stimuli to the lower leg. In addition, an MRI scanner of their brain during testing demonstrated changes in blood flow  associated with greater deactivation of a brain region extending from the precuneus to the posterior cingulate cortex. This part of the brain is involved in attention and subjective emotional responses to sensation. It plays a role in how one reacts to experiences. This is another study supporting Pain Neuroscience Education (PNE) principles. Teaching patients about the neuroscience of pain, and how to change brain perception by participating in meditation, positive thinking or helping others, diverts and changes the way a human perceives  acute and/or chronic pain.