Judson Brewer, MD, PhD

Research Interests

Psychiatry; Smoking Cessation; Behavior, Addictive; Meditation; Neurofeedback; Mindfulness

Research Organizations

Center for Nicotine and Tobacco Use Research at Yale (CENTURY)

Yale Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic

Office of Cooperative Research

Research Summary

We are also interested in what happens to the brain when people practice mindfulness meditation. To this end, we are studying brain activity in experienced and novice meditators using real-time fMRI and EEG. We hope that this will help us develop better ways to help people manage stress, quit smoking etc.

My laboratory also studies how mindfulness training might help people quit smoking and using alcohol and other drugs. We also are looking to see how mindfulness training might change the way the brain activates when we see triggers for cigarette or drug use or when we get stressed out.

Specialized Terms: Addiction; Cognitive Control; Mindfulness training; Relapse Prevention; Smoking Cessation; Meditation; Default mode network; real-time fMRI; neurofeedback

Extensive Research Description

My primary research interest is the elucidation of neurobiological mechanisms underlying the interface between stress, mindfulness and the addictive process, and in developing effective means for the modulation of these processes to better treat substance use disorders. In such, the principal focus of my laboratory is on studying mindfulness training as a mechanistic probe and treatment for addictions. Using neurobiological and physiological probes such as real-time fMRI, skin conductance, and heart rate variability, we measure the effects that mindfulness training has on stress provocation and treatment outcomes in individuals with addictive disorders.

Additionally, my laboratory is interested in improving methods to assay mindfulness practice and acquisition. We are working to delineate brain activation patterns during specific meditation techniques, and to link these to physiological and behavioral measures. Ultimately, we hope to be able to use this knowledge to not only more accurately measure neurophysiological correlates of mindfulness, but to improve mindfulness acquisition using techniques such as neurofeedback, leading to directly measurable effects on health outcomes.

  • Mindfulness training for smoking cessation
  • fMRI activation during mindfulness meditation
  • Self-reported mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation measures

Selected Publications

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