We hypothesized that 8-week mindfulness meditative training (MMT) would significantly decrease 1) cognitive/emotional biases associated with perception of pain and general dysfunction in fibromyalgia (FM) and 2) the magnitudes of various symptoms in FM patients. Changes were documented in self-reported measures of primary and secondary symptoms, mindfulness, cognitive/emotional biases associated with the experience of pain throughout the MMT. Laboratory-based measures of attention and emotion regulation were used to compare FM patients who have undergone MMT with naïve FM patients. This study also aimed to investigate differences in patterns of brain activity associated with the processing of affective visual stimuli and emotion-potentiated startle using EEG/MEG techniques. Lastly, patterns of brain activity were to be explored in response to painful stressors during conditions of varied levels of certainty. Twenty-two female FM patients between 28 and 68 years of age (avg=50.8) were recruited for MMT, 13 of which completed all elements of the program. Preliminary findings indicate that 77% of those who completed the program reported reductions in worst pain, while 92% indicated decreases in worst fatigue. In addition, 85% reported reductions in depression (CES-D scale), and in state and trait anxiety (STAI-state/trait). Furthermore, 77% demonstrated improvements in mindfulness (5-Factor M questionnaire), and all of those who were high catastrophizers at pre-study reported diminutions in catastrophizing (Pain Catastrophizing Scale). Overall, these results suggest that FM patients can benefit from mindfulness meditation. The exit interviewing data revealed that the majority of patients reported better sleep, better coping with having FM, feeling calmer, and feeling more aware of what was happening. We are currently in the process of collecting laboratory based measures of attention and emotion regulation for naïve FM participants and are in the process of preliminary data collection for the fear-potentiated startle task using EEG/MEG and assessment of anticipatory pain using fMRI.

David Vago, PhD

Vanderbilt University

Convening Faculty, Fellow, Grantee, Planning Committee Member, Reviewer

Dr. David Vago is Research Associate Professor and Director of the Contemplative Neuroscience and Mind-Body (CNMB) Research Laboratory in the Department of Psychology at Vanderbilt University. He is core training … MORE