How 2 different types compare and contrast


A standard intervention for social anxiety disorder (SAD), is cognitive behavioral group therapy (CBGT). Its effectiveness is linked to learning to re-evaluate unnecessary responses and inappropriate beliefs.

A program called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is also considered helpful. It involves multiple forms of mindfulness practices, inducing work of breathing, meditation, and monitoring of experience. The goal is to increase awareness and curiosity in the present moment while decreasing avoidance behaviors.

Self-reported measures suggest that both methods work: they decrease cognitive distortions and rumination, and increase self-efficacy and the ability to reassess. They produce “similar trajectories of reduction in symptoms of social anxiety,” write the authors of a recent study.

Similar results are interesting because the two therapies have different goals:

  • Cognitive-behavioral group therapy is about helping people re-evaluate their anxious thoughts and feelings.
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction more about helping people come to terms with those thoughts and feelings and move on.

However, no one has directly compared the effects of CBGT and MBSR on the brain. Thus, the authors of the recent study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, set out to study how the two treatment options alter neurobiological substrates – the parts of the brain that underlie specific behavior, psychological states and cognitive processes.

” We waited [cognitive-behavioral group therapy] to be superior ”, declared Philippe Goldin Reverse by email. Goldin is professor and director of the Clinical Affective Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of California, Davis.

Instead, they found that both therapies were equally effective immediately and one year after the end of treatment. “We also didn’t expect to find similar increases in brain networks associated with acceptance and cognitive assessment, as a result of CBGT and MBSR,” says Goldin.

How the discovery was made – The study team evaluated 31 people receiving cognitive behavioral group therapy, 32 patients receiving mindfulness-based stress reduction, and 32 members of a control group.

Their data was collected from 2012 to 2014 via self-reported emotion changes. The study team also collected functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which captured something called the blood oxygen level dependent signal, or BOLD for short.

“BOLD is a type of functional neuroimaging dependent variable,” Goldin explains. “We infer brain activity based on the BOLD signal and we examined changes in brain regions a priori associated with attention and cognitive regulation of emotions.”

Study participants from all groups underwent tests that measured two critical forms of emotion regulation: reassessment and acceptance. During the process, the scientists measured what was going on in their brains and looked at changes in self-reported negative emotions.

Ultimately, they found a significant increase in the BOLD percentage signal among the Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy cohort: When they reassessed negative beliefs per se, this decision resulted in activity in the brain. .

The same brain reaction was not seen in the mindfulness group: however, when it came to people reporting how they felt, both forms of therapy decreased social anxiety and its associated symptoms.

The results suggest that both methods “may be effective treatments with long-term benefits for patients with [social anxiety disorder] that recruit cognitive brain networks and attention regulation ”, despite this difference in the BOLD signal.

This goes against what the study team expected – and pushes back the backlash against mindfulness that peaked around 2016. Today, the scientific understanding of mindfulness-based practices is different. from what it was before.

There are many other studies and “much more evidence that people who practice meditation regularly have concrete improvements in depression, anxiety and stress, as well as increased well-being,” Goldin explains.


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