Series: ACTSI Investigators and ARRA Awards at Work

Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the NIH provided stimulus grants which will lead to new discoveries, create new jobs, and provide additional educational opportunities for students. Over the next few weeks the eRoundup will review some of the ACTSI's ARRA projects.

Mechanisms of Meditation, Charles L. Raison, MD, Emory University

The Mind-Body Program in the Emory's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences has received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) support in the form of a competitive revision of an already-funded R01 grant ("Mechanisms of Meditation" [R01AT004698-01]). The parent R01 is designed to examine the effect of specific meditation practices on stress and immune mechanisms of relevance to emotional and physical health. ARRA funding will allow investigators at Emory to collaborate with researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of Arizona to examine whether meditation affects real world, naturalistic speech, and behavior in ways that-based on prior studies-would be expected to enhance emotional well-being and health, not just of the meditation practitioner, but of other people in his or her social environment. To accomplish this, study subjects will be outfitted with a small recording device that unobtrusively captures random snippets of their activities both before and after randomization to compassion meditation, mindfulness meditation, or a health discussion control condition. In addition to exploring the real world effects of meditation training, the ARRA-funded competitive revision will allow researchers to conduct the first ever examination of whether autonomic, neuroendocrine, innate immune and behavioral responses to a standardized laboratory psychosocial stressor (Trier Social Stress Test [TSST]) are associated with naturalistic language use and real world behavior.

Charles L. Raison, MD, is principal investigator on the ARRA grant; with Matthias Mehl, PhD, serving as site PI for University of Arizona. Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD, director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership, serves as Contemplative PI for this work.