Thursday, May 11, 2017

Identifying and Processing Emotions: "Name It to Tame It"















Recent scientific studies suggest that people with mindfulness traits have the ability to calm their emotions by naming them. Mindfulness is a process where one is aware and receptive to present moment experiences.

In a study conducted by UCLA researchers Matthew Leiberman and David Creswell, subjects in an MRI scanner were shown emotionally expressive faces. When they were asked to name the gender of the person expressing the emotion no changes occurred. However when the same subjects were asked to name the emotion they were seeing (such as anger, fear or sadness), the person’s right ventro-lateral region became activated at the moment that the emotion was being named and the subcortical regions that respond to facial expressions especially in the region of the right amygdala calmed down.Amazingly this “name it to tame it” only happened in a certain percentage of individuals. When the researchers looked at the characteristics of the individuals whose accurate naming of an emotion could calm the subcortical storm within, those individuals were rated statistically significantly higher on mindfulness traits.

In summary, if you have mindfulness traits you can activate the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex on the right side of the brain to calm down excessively aroused subcortical circuits like the amygdala. It is believed that this occurs through the secretion of inhibitory peptides like GABA or glutamate. This is a powerful example of how the mind regulates the flow of energy and information to change neuronal activation in the brain.













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