Recently, there is a growing interest in meditation as an attentional and emotional regulatory strategy. To examine whether meditative practice is associated with successful emotion regulation, we examined the neurophysiological correlates of cognitive reappraisal in practitioners of a yogic meditative technique and controls. Participants were presented aversive pictures and were asked to cognitively change their appraisal of the affective meaning of the pictures by coming up with an alternative more positive interpretation of each picture. We found reduced magnitude of Event-Related Potentials (P300 and early time intervals of the late positive potential, LPP) following cognitive reappraisal of aversive pictures in both groups. However, in the yogic group, reduced magnitude was sustained during the later intervals of the LPP, while it subsided in the control group. Moreover, reduced amplitude of the late LPP correlated positively with experience of the technique. Results suggest a relation between yogic meditative practice and sustained attenuation of emotional response following emotion regulation. Increased positive affect and familiarity with cognitive emotion regulation in the yogic group may explain this effect. Whether this is a direct causal effect of the practice or can be attributed to characteristics of the participants that preexisted the training needs further examination in a randomized longitudinal study.

, , , ,,
Journal of Psychophysiology (Print)
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Gootjes, L., Franken, I., & van Strien, J. (2011). Cognitive emotion regulation in yogic meditative practitioners: Sustained modulation of electrical brain potentials. Journal of Psychophysiology (Print), 25(2), 87–94. doi:10.1027/0269-8803/a000043