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Papers of the Week

Papers: 16 Feb 2019 - 22 Feb 2019


2019 Aug

Curr Opin Psychol


Employing pain and mindfulness to understand consciousness: a symbiotic relationship.


Grant JA, Zeidan F
Curr Opin Psychol. 2019 Aug; 28:192-197.
PMID: 30776682.


Consciousness, defined here as the quality of awareness of self and the corresponding sensory environment, is considered to be one of most enigmatic and contentious areas of scholarly dissection and investigation. The subjective experience of pain is constructed and modulated by a myriad of sensory, cognitive and affective dimensions. Thus, the study of pain can provide many inroads to a concept like consciousness that the traditional sense modalities do not. Mindfulness defined here as non-reactive awareness of the present moment, can uniquely control and/or modulate particular substrates of conscious experience. Thus, in combination with brain imaging methodologies, we propose that the interactions between pain and mindfulness could serve as a more comprehensive platform to disentangle the biological and psychological substrates of conscious experience. The present review provides a brief synopsis on how combining the study of pain and mindfulness can inform the study of consciousness, delineates the multiple, unique brain mechanisms supporting mindfulness-based pain relief, and describes how mindfulness uniquely improves the affective dimension of pain, an important consideration for the treatment of chronic pain.