Self-regulation, or the ability to intentionally manage cognitive and emotional resources to accomplish goals, is crucial to addressing a wide range of health problems influenced by common behaviors, such as excessive eating, lack of physical activity, addiction, and poor adherence to medical regimens. Mindfulness interventions have initial evidence to influence self-regulation, however it is still poorly understand what specific elements of mindfulness interventions are most effective at influencing self-regulation, and if those changes in self-regulation translate into clinically meaningful health behavior changes, such as improved medial regimen adherence. This study proposes to analyze several existing datasets to answer these questions, as well as test the ability of customized mindfulness interventions to alter self-regulation and medical regimen adherence in four ongoing studies.


Eric Loucks, PhD

Principal Investigator

Brown University

Population Studies and Training Center

Providence, RI

Dr. Loucks is an Assistant Professor at Brown University in the School of Public Health. He has over 75 peer-reviewed publications, and focuses his research on identifying biological mechanisms by which social factors such as mindfulness, education, and early life adversity may influence cardiovascular disease. Dr. Loucks has generated research findings that have helped to better understand how biological factors such as inflammatory markers, epigenetics, blood pressure, obesity, lipids, amongst others, may be important mechanisms through which social factors could influence cardiovascular disease. He is now implementing practical applications of the work, including randomized controlled trials of mindfulness interventions to address social disparities in cardiovascular disease.

Willoughby Britton, PhD

Principal Investigator

Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University

Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior

Providence, RI

Dr. Britton earned a B.A. in Neuroscience and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. She is the recipient of two National Research Service Awards (NRSA) and a Career Development Award (CDA) from NIH. She is currently the Director of Brown’s Clinical and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, which investigates the psychophysiological (EEG, EMG, EKG) and neurocognitive effects of cognitive training and mindfulness-based interventions for mood and anxiety disorders. Research questions investigate which cognitive training practices are best or worst suited for which types of conditions and why, moderators of treatment outcome, practice-specific effects, and adverse effects. Current NIH-funded studies include a 3-armed RCT  entitled “Dismantling Mindfulness” that compares the effects of three different types of meditation training programs on pre-frontal cortex functioning in depression; and a collaborative infrastructure grant (UH2) with Harvard and UMASS entitled “Mindfulness Influences on Self-Regulation: Mental and Physical Health Implications”.  An interdisciplinary qualitative study, funded by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) entitled “The Varieties of Contemplative Experience” is investigating under-reported and potentially challenging, distressing or impairing meditation-related effects in both the United States and India.

Jean A. King, PhD

Principal Investigator

University of Massachusetts Medical School

Department of Psychiatry

Worcester, MA

Dr. Jean King is an active neuroscientist and Professor of Psychiatry, Radiology, and Neurology (with tenure) at UMass Medical School, where she has been a faculty member since 1994. Her current research interests include the utilization of novel multi-modal neuroimaging techniques to explore the impact of stressors and addiction on neural networks, as well as neural mechanisms underlying resilience to stressors.  In that regard her lab is assessing the role of meditation in altering brain circuits that facilitate behavioral change and vulnerability/resilience to stress. Dr. King also has significant leadership roles in the scientific and academic communities, at the national and international level as well as within her home institution. At UMass Medical School, she is currently the Vice Provost for Biomedical Research and Director of the Center for Comparative NeuroImaging.

Wen Chen, PhD


Project Scientist

Rebecca Ferrer, PhD


Lead Project Scientist

1. Vago, D. R., Gupta, R. S., & Lazar, S. W. (2018). Measuring cognitive outcomes in mindfulness-based intervention research: A reflection on confounding factors and methodological limitations. Current opinion in psychology.

2. Britton, W. B. (2019). Can mindfulness be too much of a good thing? The value of a middle way. Current opinion in psychology.

3. Desbordes, G. (2019). Self-related processing in mindfulness-based interventions. Current opinion in psychology.

4. Gawande, R., To, M. N., Pine, E., Griswold, T., Creedon, T. B., Brunel, A., ... & Schuman-Olivier, Z. (2019). Mindfulness Training Enhances Self-Regulation and Facilitates Health Behavior Change for Primary Care Patients: a Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of general internal medicine, 34(2), 293-302.

5. Greenberg, J., Braun, T. D., Schneider, M. L., Finkelstein-Fox, L., Conboy, L. A., Schifano, E. D., ... & Lazar, S. W. (2018). Is less more? A randomized comparison of home practice time in a mind-body program. Behaviour research and therapy, 111, 52-56.

6. Britton, W. B., Davis, J. H., Loucks, E. B., Peterson, B., Cullen, B. H., Reuter, L., ... & Lindahl, J. R. (2018). Dismantling Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy: Creation and validation of 8-week focused attention and open monitoring interventions within a 3-armed randomized controlled trial. Behaviour research and therapy.

7. Kang, Y., Rahrig, H., Eichel, K., Niles, H. F., Rocha, T., Lepp, N. E., ... & Britton, W. B. (2018). Gender differences in response to a school-based mindfulness training intervention for early adolescents. Journal of school psychology, 68, 163-176.

8. Khoury, N. M., Lutz, J., & Schuman-Olivier, Z. (2018). Interoception in psychiatric disorders: a review of randomized, controlled trials with interoception-based interventions. Harvard review of psychiatry, 26(5), 250-263.

9. Van Dam, N. T., van Vugt, M. K., Vago, D. R., Schmalzl, L., Saron, C. D., Olendzki, A., ... & Fox, K. C. (2018). Mind the hype: A critical evaluation and prescriptive agenda for research on mindfulness and meditation. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(1), 36-61.

10. Rojiani, R., Santoyo, J. F., Rahrig, H., Roth, H. D., & Britton, W. B. (2017). Women Benefit More Than Men in Response to College-based Meditation Training. Frontiers in Psychology, 8.

11. Levoy, E., Lazaridou, A., Brewer, J., & Fulwiler, C. (2017). An exploratory study of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for emotional eating. Appetite, 109, 124-130.

12. Loucks, E. B., Britton, W. B., Howe, C. J., Gutman, R., Gilman, S. E., Brewer, J., ... & Buka, S. L. (2016). Associations of dispositional mindfulness with obesity and central adiposity: the New England Family Study. International journal of behavioral medicine, 23(2), 224-233.

13. Loucks, E. B., Gilman, S. E., Britton, W. B., Gutman, R., Eaton, C. B., & Buka, S. L. (2016). Associations of Mindfulness with Glucose Regulation and Diabetes. American journal of health behavior, 40(2), 258-267.

14. Fulwiler, C., Siegel, J. A., Allison, J., Rosal, M. C., Brewer, J., & King, J. A. (2016). Keeping Weight Off: study protocol of an RCT to investigate brain changes associated with mindfulness-based stress reduction. BMJ open, 6(11), e012573.

15. Hadash, Y., Plonsker, R., Vago, D. R., & Bernstein, A. (2016). Experiential self-referential and selfless processing in mindfulness and mental health: Conceptual model and implicit measurement methodology. Psychol Assess, 28(7), 856-869.

16. Fulwiler, C., Brewer, J. A., Sinnott, S., & Loucks, E. B. (2015). Mindfulness-based interventions for weight loss and CVD risk management. Current cardiovascular risk reports, 9(10), 46.

17. Loucks, E. B., Schuman-Olivier, Z., Britton, W. B., Fresco, D. M., Desbordes, G., Brewer, J. A., & Fulwiler, C. (2015). Mindfulness and cardiovascular disease risk: state of the evidence, plausible mechanisms, and theoretical framework. Current cardiology reports, 17(12), 112.

18. Van Dam, N. T., van Vugt, M. K., Vago, D. R., Schmalzl, L., Saron, C. D., Olendzki, A., ... & Fox, K. C. (2017). Mind the hype: A critical evaluation and prescriptive agenda for research on mindfulness and meditation. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1745691617709589.