Dynamic modes of mind: A novel approach to understanding the neural dynamics of mindfulness, rumination and psychological flexibility

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Anne Maj van der Velden


Split between Donders Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, The Netherlands and Oxford University, United Kingdom


DKK 850,000




Internationalisation Fellowships


Mindfulness meditation trains adaptive attention regulation, present moment embodied awareness, and perspective taking. Mindfulness training may be particularly useful for those prone to rumination i.e. maladaptive preoccupation and repetitive thinking about the possible causes and consequences of negative feelings and problems. Those prone to ruminate are more likely to experience chronic stress and burnout, and impaired regulation of attention, emotions and behavior, and may develop mental health problems. Hence, my research project specifically investigates how mindfulness training may impact and alter brain dynamics in those prone to ruminate.


The interplay of psychological and biological processes holds great potential to enhance our understanding of mechanisms of change, yet there is a paucity of studies looking at neurocognitive mechanisms of mindfulness interventions amongst those with high propensity to ruminate. We will use novel methodologies we seek to elucidate the flexibility or rigidity of specific neural connectivity patterns. Such dynamic connectivity methods may yield valuable insight into the differences between states of mindfulness practice and rumination, and how neural dynamics during a ruminative state may change after mindfulness training in a way that can not be captured by traditional static neural connectivity measures.


In a population of individuals who are high in ruminative traits, I plan to investigate the neurocognitive mechanism of mindfulness training by applying novel state-of-the-art methods to examine brain dynamics during states of rest, mindfulness practice and rumination before and after mindfulness training. This work will be conducted together with leading researchers in the field of mindfulness and cognitive neuroscience at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour in The Netherlands and at University of Oxford in United Kingdom, where the research environment is world-renowned and groundbreaking within psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

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