The effects of a brief mindfulness induction on maternal autonomic activity

Wendt, Kathleen Ellen, author
Coatsworth, J. Douglas, advisor
Lucas-Thompson, Rachel G., committee member
Anderson, G. Brooke, committee member
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Brief mindfulness activities are often included in preventive interventions for parents, but researchers do not know the type and combination of mindfulness components that beget the strongest effects on self-regulation. Focused attention meditation is associated with improved attention and self-regulation, but applications of such in interpersonal stressors are scarce. Using a randomized micro-trial design, the present study tested the effects of a brief mindfulness induction (focused attention meditation) on maternal autonomic processes, specifically change in respiratory sinus arrhythmia and tonic skin conductance level compared to resting state, during a goal-oriented task with her child (n = 40 mothers). Mothers were randomly assigned to listen to either a focused attention meditation or a control educational podcast before participating in an adapted Parent-Child Challenge Task (Lunkenheimer et al., 2017) with their 4.5-6.5-year-old children. A repeated measures linear mixed-effects model with basic covariance structure indicated an interaction effect between time and treatment for change in parasympathetic activity, such that mothers in the experimental group, on average, expressed relatively higher parasympathetic activation immediately following the induction period, compared to mothers in the control group. There were no statistically significant effects related to change in sympathetic activity. These results suggest a brief mindfulness induction can promote maternal parasympathetic processes during and immediately after the meditation. Beyond confirming pilot protocol viability, this work contributes to our understanding of the real-time, intra-individual effects of brief mindfulness inductions in interpersonal contexts.
2020 Fall.
Includes bibliographical references.
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