UO's Posner to detail research on the benefits of mindfulness

Michael Posner
Michael Posner

UO psychologist Michael Posner will discuss his collaborative research on brain mechanisms connected with meditation in a free public address at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27, in Room 100 of Willamette Hall.

His talk on "Neuroscience of Integrated Body Mind Training" is sponsored by the UO's Undergraduate Studies Common Reading Program. Posner's address also serves to set the stage for two days of events — the second annual Symposium for Mindfulness and Society and Mindfulness Showcase — that occur on campus Feb. 9-10.

Posner, professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology and winner of the 2008 National Medal of Science, has spent almost a decade studying Integrative Body-Mind Training and has drawn international attention to IBMT and other meditation techniques. A technique long popular in China, the training involves whole body relaxation, mental imagery and mindfulness training led by a qualified coach.

Posner's research, done in collaboration with former UO research professor Yi-Yuan Tang, now at Texas Tech University, has documented improvements in key areas of the brain and continues to be studied for its potential impacts on a variety of stresses. A recent study the pair led found that the training influenced an addiction pathway that prompted tobacco users to reduce their craving for cigarettes without realizing that their smoking habit was the focus of the project.

Posner also will briefly describe a new theory on what is happening in the brain when IBMT is being practiced. The theory, described in the journal Frontiers in Psychology in October, is being explored in a project with the UO's Cris Niell, assistant professor in the UO's Institute of Neuroscience. It suggests that IBMT triggers increased myelin production and neuronal connectivity in the brain.

—By Jim Barlow, Public Affairs Communications