Maladaptive habits are at the root of a variety of clinical concerns, including depression, substance abuse and suicidality. Mindfulness meditation is believed to inhibit maladaptive habit formation by increasing awareness of cognitive and emotional states while also decreasing reactivity. Relaxing cognitive and behavioral habits may allow more mindful people to behave in ways that are more aligned with their values. Strong theoretical support suggests that mindfulness meditation training is likely to reduce maladaptive habit formation. However, empirical work is lagging behind mindfulness theory. This study is designed to assess the effects of mindfulness meditation training on habit formation using an eyeblink conditioning task. Eyeblink conditioning is a classical conditioning paradigm in which a short, gentle puff of air is directed to the eye to elicit a blink. A sound is paired with the puffs of air, with the expectation that participants will learn to blink when hearing the sound, regardless of whether a puff of air is also administered or not. This methodology will allow investigation of whether mindfulness interrupts classical conditioning through the process of de-automatization. Results will provide better insight into the mechanisms of mindfulness, and whether mindfulness training has the potential to reduce maladaptive habit formation.

Adam Hanley, PhD

University of Utah

Fellow, Grantee, Reviewer

Adam Hanley is a Licensed Psychologist and an Assistant Professor at the Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development (C-MIIND) in the University of Utah’s College of Social Work. … MORE