Improving Executive Function and Its Neurobiological Mechanisms Through a Mindfulness-Based Intervention: Advances Within the Field of Developmental Neuroscience

Yi Yuan Tang, Lizhu Yang, Leslie D. Leve, Gordon T. Harold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations

Abstract

Poor executive function (EF) has been associated with a host of short- and long-term problems across the lifespan, including elevated rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, drug abuse, and antisocial behavior. Mindfulness-based interventions that focus on increasing awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, and actions have been shown to improve specific aspects of EF, including attention, cognitive control, and emotion regulation. Reflecting a developmental neuroscience perspective, this article reviews research relevant to one specific mindfulness-based intervention, integrative body-mind training (IBMT). Randomized controlled trials of IBMT indicate improvements in specific EF components, and uniquely highlight the role of neural circuitry specific to the anterior cingulate cortex and the autonomic nervous system as two brain-based mechanisms that underlie IBMT-related improvements. The relevance of improving specific dimensions of EF through short-term IBMT to prevent a cascade of risk behaviors for children and adolescents is described and future research directions are proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-366
Number of pages6
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Volume6
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2012

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Childhood
  • Executive function
  • Integrative body-mind training
  • Mindfulness-based interventions
  • Randomized clinical trial

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