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Session 2, Abstract 9

MINDFULNESS MEDITATION AS A STRESS REACTIVITY INTERVENTION IN OLDER ADULTS

Jessica L. Trottier*1,2 and Tabatha Memmot2 (Barry Oken2), Portland State University, Portland, OR 97201; Ronald E. McNair Scholar Program1, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR 97239; Dept. of Behavioral Neuroscience2

Chronic stress has been shown to adversely affect cardiovascular, neurological, and mental health, especially in older populations. The success of alternative therapies in combating stress has been well-supported in neuroscience thus far. In this experiment, the Portland Arithmetic Stress Task (PAST) was used to examine stress reactivity in older adults who received Mindfulness Meditation (MM) training. This was done in order to determine whether event-related potentials (ERP’s) and autonomic biomarkers may be impacted by this MM intervention. Thirty-one older adults were enrolled and randomized into three, six-week program groups: MM, Health/Wellness Education (H/W), and no program (no training control). Before and after intervention a set of self-assessment scales of stress were completed before and after the PAST was administered. An EEG recorded changes in feedback-related negativity (FRN), as well as physiological measures taken at various points in the experiment, including: blood pressure, heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration, and salivary cortisol. While a previous study supported that the PAST test was effective in eliciting a significant stress response, the changes in physiological measures and ERP’s were modest, leaving a small range to work with in future studies. We expect, given previous literature on MM and stress, that in the MM group there should be a decrease in physiological and ERP stress reactivity measures during the test, as well as a faster rebound to baseline after the test were administered. We would also anticipate self-reported stress assessments should also improve in the MM group and H/W groups.