Julie Brefczynski-Lewis, PhD
Department of Physiology & Pharmacology
The Brefczynski-Lewis lab is testing the effectiveness of compassion meditation to help with deal with the stress and negative emotions related to difficult interpersonal relationships. Difficult relationships can lead to angry rumination which can put people at risk for depression and anxiety over time. In addition, stress hormones like cortisol can have negative health effects if sustained over time.
We have found that compassion training changes brain responses to the faces of difficult people. In this project we will continue to examine the neural and physiological responses “problem people” in our lives, testing both neural responses and physiological responses related to stress. This project will test brain responses, heart rate and saliva stress hormones (cortisol and alpha-amylase) in response to difficult person stimuli with training in Compassion vs. an active control.
Projects would involve some design and creation of stimuli, running participants in experimental sessions that would involve testing outside the MRI as well as combined fMRI and heart rate and eye tracker (the latter two systems are MRI compatible), and analyzing data.