Judson Brewer - Mindfulness and Neurofeedback

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Judson Brewer

Over the past decade, there has been an explosion of interest in how contemplative practices such as meditation can inform science and how science can inform these practices. Recent advances have begun to unravel the mysteries of how mindfulness practice can affect learning processes leading to positive habit change. Using evidence from clinical trials of smoking cessation, this presentation will first map out how mindfulness targets key components of operant conditioning pathways. It will then detail neuroscientific findings from novice and expert meditators using traditional and real-time fMRI to link the subjective experience of effortless awareness that may be a key aspect of mindfulness, to regional brain activity in the default mode network. It will conclude with a discussion of how targeted neurofeedback may provide a “mental mirror” for augmenting mindfulness training.


Judson Brewer MD PhD is the Director of Research at the Center for Mindfulness and associate professor in medicine and psychiatry at UMass Medical School. He also is adjunct faculty at Yale University, and a research affiliate at MIT. A psychiatrist and internationally known expert in mindfulness training for addictions, Brewer has developed and tested novel mindfulness programs for addictions, including both in-person and app-based treatments. He has also studied the underlying neural mechanisms of mindfulness using standard and real-time fMRI, and is currently translating these findings into clinical use. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, spoken at international conferences, presented to the US President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, been featured at TEDx, Time magazine (top 100 new health discoveries of 2013), Forbes, Businessweek, NPR, and the BBC, among others. He writes an addiction blog for The Huffington Post.

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