The CLANlab researches the effects of contemplative practices on cognitive, emotional, and neurophysiological processes in both clinical and non-clinical settings.
Studies in clinical settings have examined the psychological and neurophysiological effects of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) in samples with a range of conditions, including anxiety, depression, stress, sleep problems, trauma, substance abuse, and chronic or terminal illness.
Studies in non-clinical settings have investigated the effects of school-based mindfulness training programs in both middle schoolers, college students, medical students and residents, and physicians and nurses.
The CLANlab is especially interested in investigating practice-specific effects, moderators of treatment outcome, and meditation safety or in other words “Which practices are best or worst suited for which types of people or conditions and why”.
Practice-specific effects: Different meditation practices have different goals and different effects on the body and mind, and therefore may be better or worse for reaching certain types of goals. Knowledge about what practices are best for what types of conditions allows for a “personalized medicine” approach where meditation programs can be tailored to the needs or goals of the participants. In the “Dismantling Mindfulness Study” we examine the effects of 2 common forms of mindfulness meditation, concentration or “focused attention” (FA), and insight, vipassana or “open monitoring” (OM) vs their combination.
We have also recently completed a qualitative study on "The Varieties of Contemplative Experience," which investigates the range of experiences associated with meditation based upon interviews with more than 60 Buddhist practitioners and 30 Buddhist teachers.
Moderators of treatment outcomes: Many different factors are likely to impact whether a person finds benefit from meditating, including the practitioner level factors (psychiatric or trauma history); practice level factors (practice type, amount/ intensity) and contextual factors such as social support, relationship with teacher, and expectations etc. Current studies in the CLANlab have found that both gender and history of childhood adversity influence meditation outcomes.