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Center for Healthy Minds

University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Brief Trainings to Buffer Against Acute Stress Effects

Center scientists are evaluating and comparing the effectiveness of brief trainings to buffer against the negative effects that acute stress has on behavior and cognitive abilities. The trainings, which include breath awareness, loving-kindness meditation, gratitude practices and focused memory/attention conditions, are based on contemplative practices and positive psychology interventions.

In this study, the acute stressor is the cold pressor task, during which participants submerge their arms in ice-cold water for three minutes. The experiment takes place in one session, and participants are randomly assigned to one of the training conditions. Participants complete cognitive, behavioral and self-report assessments prior to listening to an audio training and again after the cold pressor task, in order to compare their performance across the two assessments.

The findings from this experiment may suggest which brief practices may be more or less useful for the average person to reduce the effects of stress in everyday life. The results may also shed light on which practices are more suitable for reducing the cognitive and behavioral impacts of stress, especially depending on one’s personality and emotional style.

People Working on This Study

Richard J. Davidson
Founder, Center for Healthy Minds & Healthy Minds Innovations, William James & Vilas Professor of Psychology & Psychiatry
Lisa Flook
Lisa Flook
Associate Scientist, Center for Healthy Minds
Simon Goldberg
Affiliate Faculty, Center for Healthy Minds
Matthew Hirshberg
Matt Hirshberg
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Healthy Minds
Stacey Schaefer
Stacey Schaefer
Associate Scientist, Center for Healthy Minds
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