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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 670724, 9 pages
Review Article

Mindful Emotion Regulation: Exploring the Neurocognitive Mechanisms behind Mindfulness

1Department of Cognitive Science (DiSCoF), University of Trento, Corso Bettini 84, Rovereto, 38068 Trentino, Italy
2Department of Data Analysis, Faculty of Psychology and Pedagogical Sciences, Ghent University, 1 Henri Dunantlaan, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
3Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, Pinewood House, Pinewood Place, Dartford, Kent DA2 7WG, UK

Received 27 August 2014; Revised 26 November 2014; Accepted 1 December 2014

Academic Editor: Elisa Kozasa

Copyright © 2015 Alessandro Grecucci et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The purpose of this paper is to review some of the psychological and neural mechanisms behind mindfulness practice in order to explore the unique factors that account for its positive impact on emotional regulation and health. After reviewing the mechanisms of mindfulness and its effects on clinical populations we will consider how the practice of mindfulness contributes to the regulation of emotions. We argue that mindfulness has achieved effective outcomes in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and other psychopathologies through the contribution of mindfulness to emotional regulation. We consider the unique factors that mindfulness meditation brings to the process of emotion regulation that may account for its effectiveness. We review experimental evidence that points towards the unique effects of mindfulness specifically operating over and above the regulatory effects of cognitive reappraisal mechanisms. A neuroanatomical circuit that leads to mindful emotion regulation is also suggested. This paper thereby aims to contribute to proposed models of mindfulness for research and theory building by proposing a specific model for the unique psychological and neural processes involved in mindful detachment that account for the effects of mindfulness over and above the effects accounted for by other well-established emotional regulation processes such as cognitive reappraisal.