Neurocognitive study of mindfulness with primary school pupils

Abstract

Pre-adolescence has been highlighted as a pivotal developmental period in which self-regulatory skills including emotion processing and attention control develop. In recent years interest has grown in the potential of mindfulness-based approaches as a method for enhancing these skills in pre-adolescence and initial findings are promising. Mindfulness can also be considered a disposition present in the absence of mindfulness training, and whilst research investigating the association between dispositional mindfulness and self-regulation abilities in pre-adolescents is still limited, findings from adults suggest that higher dispositional mindfulness is linked with more adaptive self-regulatory abilities. This project employed a neurodevelopmental perspective to further the understanding of both the impact of mindfulness training on self-regulation in pre-adolescents (using a nonrandomised wait-list controlled design) and the relationship between dispositional mindfulness and self-regulation in pre-adolescents (using a cross-sectional design). The first chapter of the thesis provides a broad theoretical overview of current research on mindfulness training and dispositional mindfulness with pre-adolescents. The second chapter then introduce the two main research methods which were employed in this project – event-related potentials (ERPs) and heart rate variability (HRV). The third chapter provides a comprehensive review of how mindfulness training could enhance selfregulation in pre-adolescents from a neurodevelopmental perspective. Chapters four, five, six and seven present empirical findings from a total of 76 primary school pupils aged between 7 and 11 years who were recruited from four schools in North Wales. Dispositional findings are explored in chapters four (N = 41), five (N = 49) and six (N = 48) and longitudinal findings are presented in chapters six (N = 37) and seven (N = 37). Overall the project found that pre-adolescents with higher dispositional mindfulness had better self-regulatory abilities as indexed by the ERP and HRV markers and self-report findings. With regards to the longitudinal findings, less convergence was found across ERP, HRV and self-report measures of self-regulation, there were, however, indications from the ERP and self-report findings that mindfulness training could have had protective effects on emotion processing in pre-adolescents. A discussion on the implications of these findings is provided in chapter eight, this chapter also outlines suggestions for future research.

Details

Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
Goruchwylydd / Goruchwylwyr / Cynghorydd
Noddwyr traethodau hir
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Dyddiad dyfarnuIon 2017