This study was a 3-year NIH-funded randomized controlled trial of MBCT in recurrent depression which aimed to identify the neurophysiological changes associated with mindfulness training and which changes were associated with sustained recovery 1 year later. This study investigated neurophsyiological systems that are known to be involved in the pathophysiology of depression and increase risk for relapse. Biological Measures included overnight polysomnographic sleep/EEG studies, 24-hr cortisol, Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), heart rate variability, and a 3-hour neuropsychological battery that assesses the functioning of the prefrontal cortex, cingulate, hippocampus and amgygdala. Self-report measures include meditation practice, mindfulness, stress, anxiety, rumination, experiential avoidance, depression and history of trauma. One year follow-ups are completed and a never-depressed control group just finished the protocol to serve as a reference.
Willoughby Britton received a B.A. in Neuroscience from Colgate University, a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Arizona, and completed her clinical internship at Brown Medical School. She received sleep/EEG technician training at Harvard Medical School and was a Research Fellow at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH) and at Andrew Weil's Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. She spent several years in Asia studying meditative techniques in India, Nepal and Thailand. She includes Achaan Poh, Shinzen Young, Richard Bootzin, Al Kaszniak, Joan Halifax, Greg Bender, Eric Kolvig, Anne Klein, Harvey Aronson, Sharon Salzburg, and Mitchell Levy among her teachers and mentors. She received her mindfulness (MBSR) instructor certification training at the Center for Mindfulness at the UMASS Medical School with Jon Kabat-Zinn, Saki Santorelli, Melissa Blacker, and Florence Meyer and her MBCT training with Zindel Segal and Ferris Urbanowski.
Dr. Britton is a clinical psychologist and clinical research scientist at Brown University Medical School's Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior. Dr. Britton's clinical research includes sleep, and novel treatment/prevention strategies for emotional disturbances. She recently completed a 3-year NIH-funded clinical trial on the neurophysiological effects of mindfulness meditation in depression, and continues to examine the link between sleep, affective disturbance and emotional regulation strategies. Two current research projects aim to examine the effects of meditation practices in 6th graders and college students. She is currently on the Steering Committee of Brown's Contemplative Studies Initiative and is a clinical and research mentor to Scholarly Concentrators in Contemplative Studies. She co-teaches a course in the Medical School entitled "Mindfulness in Clinical Practice" with other Contemplative Studies faculty. She developed Cheetah House to serve a central hub to integrate contemplative practice, research, community and social engagement.
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