(R13AT011981 BRAVER, PI)
This proposal requests funding support for a small-group scientific conference focused on Mindfulness Mechanisms and Methods. In the last decade, supported by the trans-NIH BRAIN Initiative, tremendous advances have been made in the development of available tools and technologies that have the potential to that revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. In parallel, scientific interest and research on mindfulness meditation has exploded, including that focused on key brain mechanisms of action by which mindfulness practices yield beneficial effects on psychological health and well-being, with much of this work occurring through NCCIH support. Yet progress in this subfield, which has been termed contemplative neuroscience, has not been as rapid as it should be, due to a due to a number of challenges: a) lack of fluency, and even awareness, among many contemplative neuroscientists regarding current advances and the new tools available; b) minimal interactions between basic researchers and technology developers, who can generate both constraints and new ideas, regarding how to more effectively deploy and disseminate these tools; and c) insufficient dialogue between researchers and advanced
practitioners, regarding best practices on how to utilize this modern cognitive neuroscience toolkit within the context of mindfulness instruction and therapeutic intervention. We propose to organize a scientific meeting to address these challenges. The objective of the meeting will be to create a forum in which different constituencies can gather for intensive and extended inter-disciplinary dialogue and discussion. Additionally, a select group of junior trainees will be awarded travel fellowships to attend the meeting, in order to engage in discussions, receive feedback on their own work, and network with leading figures in this field. Following the conference, a special issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging will disseminate and attract scientific attention to the topics covered in the meeting, with submissions coming from meeting participants and other solicited investigators. Additionally, a group-authored position paper from conference participants (in the Biological Psychiatry sister journal Global Open Science) will lay out the most promising research questions and strategies that can be most productively investigated via inter-disciplinary teams of basic and aging researchers, thus facilitating the formation of such teams, and attracting the interest of an international audience.