MBSR vs aerobic exercise in social anxiety: fMRI of emotion regulation of negative self-beliefs

Philip R Goldin, Michal Ziv, Hooria Jazaieri, Kevin Hahn, James J. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is thought to reduce emotional reactivity and enhance emotion regulation in patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD). The goal of this study was to examine the neural correlates of deploying attention to regulate responses to negative self-beliefs using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Participants were 56 patients with generalized SAD in a randomized controlled trial who were assigned to MBSR or a comparison aerobic exercise (AE) stress reduction program. Compared to AE, MBSR yielded greater (i) reductions in negative emotion when implementing regulation and (ii) increases in attention-related parietal cortical regions. Meditation practice was associated with decreases in negative emotion and social anxiety symptom severity, and increases in attention-related parietal cortex neural responses when implementing attention regulation of negative self-beliefs. Changes in attention regulation during MBSR may be an important psychological factor that helps to explain how mindfulness meditation training benefits patients with anxiety disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbernss054
Pages (from-to)65-72
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Emotion regulation
  • fMRI
  • Mindfulness
  • Social anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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