Mindfulness is the ability to focus on the present moment with openness and acceptance, even during difficult or painful circumstances. Science suggests that mindfulness reduces stress, enhances health, and promotes life-satisfaction.
While mindfulness can be trained with practice, it takes time and effort. People often find it challenging to stay with the practice. Unsurprisingly, people with issues like depression and chronic pain may have an especially hard time persisting even though they could experience significant benefits.
What if we could lower the initial barriers to mindfulness training?
We are investigating an exciting way to help people develop mindfulness skills by combining the practice with ultrasound neuromodulation. This technique allows us to temporarily modulate brain activity with low-intensity focused ultrasound. In a small pilot experiment, we inhibited a region of the brain that may interfere with mindfulness practice. That region is called the Default Mode Network (DMN). The results were encouraging -- participants’ brain scans showed a significant reduction in DMN activity, as we predicted (click here to see the pilot results). Most importantly, subjects also reported an enhanced state of mindfulness measured by standardized scales.
Help us Reach Our Goal
We are looking to fund an experiment to replicate these pilot-results but with a double-blind, placebo-controlled design. We will collect brain scans while we target the DMN with focused ultrasound. This intervention should enhance state mindfulness and alter behavior on tasks designed to measure mindful awareness. We will also analyze brain activity and behavior to confirm safety and efficacy. To see a detailed overview and scientific abstract, click this link.
Success with this project will lead to a natural next step: examine how this technoboost might synergize with a full course in mindfulness training.
We invite you to take part in our scientific journey exploring a new hopeful direction for clinical populations and, moving forward, more mindful moments for a world facing challenging times.
For more information, please see the experiment overview and our lab website.
Click the "Project Owners" pictures for bios or see our lab website for the full team.
TEDx BigSky | A Technoboost for Meditation | Jay Sanguinetti
Stanford BrainMind Summit | Accelerating Mindfulness Training with Ultrasonic Neuromodulation | Jay Sanguinetti
Resources on mindfulness | Articles | Shinzen Young
Resources on mindfulness | Unified Mindfulness System | Shinzen Young & Julianna Raye
Resources on mindfulness | Brightmind | Shinzen Young