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82. Effects of a brief mindfulness intervention on threat-related perceptual decision making
Title: Effects of a brief mindfulness intervention on threat-related perceptual decision making
Authors: Maya Marder, Sungjin Im, Gabriella Imbriano, and Aprajita Mohanty
Mindfulness has been shown to benefit emotional and mental health via enhanced attentional control, emotion regulation and self-awareness. Studies examining emotion regulation in mindfulness use paradigms in which emotional stimuli are irrelevant to the task and to be ignored, hence it remains unclear how mindfulness influences the strategic use of emotional information to guide attention and perception. In the present study, participants varying in trait mindfulness (FFMQ) were randomly assigned to listen to an audio recording on mindful breathing (N=32) or a science lecture (N=32) for 10 minutes. They performed a perceptual decision making task in which they used threatening or neutral cues to discriminate between fearful and neutral faces. Using a generalized linear mixed model, we found that threatening cues lead to more sensitive (higher d’), 95% CI[0.350, 0.894], t(60)=4.59, p<.001 and faster, 95% CI[-0.075, -0.001], t(92.84)=-2.06, p=.042 decision making. Furthermore, in the mindfulness group, higher trait mindfulness was associated with more sensitive decision making following both threatening and neutral cues unlike the lecture group, 95% CI[0.013, 0.057], t(58.00)=2.89, p=.004. Overall, the present findings show that mindfulness-based attentional manipulation facilitates how we use prior knowledge to detect presence or absence of threats.