Study of meditating mice at the UO draws media play

image of mice in a nest

Did you hear the one about the mouse lost in meditation? If you’ve been following science coverage by major media — the Los Angeles Times, Daily Mail and New Scientist — you may already know this story.

A team of UO researchers turned to mice in the laboratory to explore the impacts of mindfulness training on brain activity. They discovered that mice that received such training showed less stress and less cortisol in the blood — findings that have also been shown in humans.

The findings of the study, funded by the Office of Naval Research, were published in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a major journal.

The UO’s Michael Posner, psychology; Cris Niell, biology; and Aldis Weible, neuroscience, have been quoted in the coverage. Also involved in the study were Denise Piscopob, biology; and Mary K. Rothbart, psychology.

“We think of meditation as a human thing, a high-level thing, but we want to examine the low-level biology of it,” Niell told the Los Angeles Times.

For the study, the researchers used the same protocols previously used in human subjects to see if they might gain simpler, fundamental knowledge about the effects of meditation from mice. The study, they concluded, “provides support for the use of a mouse model for studying changes in the brain following meditation and potentially other forms of human cognitive training.”

Check out the coverage:

Can a mouse meditate? Why these researchers want to find out

Meditating mice’ reveal how mindfulness training can reduce anxiety

‘Meditating mice’ reveal secrets of mindfulness training