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Module PMP-4014:
Mindfulness & the Brain

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

30 Credits or 15 ECTS Credits

Organiser: Dr Rebekah Kaunhoven

Overall aims and purpose

The aim of the module is to provide mindfulness teachers and practitioners with a more in depth understanding of the research evidence-base in the fast growing field of cognitive neuroscience of mindfulness. During this module you will learn about research which investigates how mindfulness modifies the brain and explore how neuroscientific research can contribute to the theory, practice and teaching of mindfulness. Previous familiarity with neuroscientific research and terminology is not necessary as the module will help you understand the basic concepts and research techniques, such as neuroplasticity, magnetic resonance imaging and electrophysiology. The module includes: discussions about research studies in cognitive neuroscience of mindfulness and their relevance to the developments in the field of mindfulness-based approaches; a visit to the Mindful Brain Lab ( at Bangor University with hands-on demonstrations of neuroscientific experiments, and lectures on exciting topics in neuroscience of mindfulness such as mindful emotion regulation and developmental neuroscience of mindfulness.

Course content

Content: Neuroplasticity and cognitive neuroscience methods Mechanisms of mindfulness from psychological and neurocognitive perspectives Mindfulness & Attention Mindfulness & Emotion Regulation Mindfulness and the Stress Response Developmental Neuroscience of Mindfulness Mindfulness and Global Shifts in Neural Activity

Assessment Criteria



• All or most parts of the assignment question are answered.

• Appropriate and accurate use of language, with very few errors.

• Mostly clear line of argument and structure; so relationships between successive parts are generally easy to follow.

• Integrates detail into a coherent whole and guides reader to a reasoned conclusion.

• Good understanding of the material as demonstrated by a reasonably clear explanation of the issues in question.

• Supports most assertions via theoretical justification and/or reference to relevant empirical research, showing evidence of some reading beyond the information given in lecture.

• Fairly comprehensive in scope and largely relevant to the topic and issues.

• Explanatory in style and approach, with some critical interpretation.

• Good range of sources and data and careful use of evidence.

Comprehensive and accurate coverage, showing good use of lecture material and core readings, with evidence of some further reading, and demonstrating ability to appraise the evidence scientifically. Shows understanding of research methods applicable to, and the published evidence base for, mindfulness-based approaches. Research proposal for thesis shows some originality and detailed preparation.


50% • Attempts to answer the question directly but lapses occasionally into irrelevancies.

• Generally accurate but some omissions and errors.

• Tends to make assertions without clear supporting evidence or reasoning.

• Has a somewhat loose line of argument; gives information that is mostly relevant but often does not explain why it is relevant.

• Often relies on the reader to form links between successive parts.

• Answer based largely on lecture material or on one or two essential readings.

• Descriptive in style and approach, more than analytic.

Reasonably comprehensive coverage, indicating generally accurate understanding, based on lecture material and core readings only. Limited critical appraisal. Straightforward research proposal for thesis.


70% • All parts of the assignment question are answered.

• Entirely appropriate and accurate use of language.

• Exceptionally clear line of argument and structure.

• Each stage/section is explicitly and sensibly linked to the previous section and to the overall argument (i.e. clear progression and relevance)

• Details integrated into a coherent whole with clear and well-argued conclusions.

• Analytical in style and approach

• Integrates a wide range of appropriate material and makes relevant connections between different parts of a given course or across different courses.

• Critically evaluates the evidence in a logical manner.

• Goes well beyond the information given in the lectures (and/or project meetings)

• Shows clear evidence of extensive and relevant reading.

• Has originality of exposition; the author’s own thinking is readily apparent.

Excellent understanding shown of the wider evidence base for mindfulness-based approaches, together with its context in health care and perhaps in other areas. In-depth analysis and insightful scientific appraisal of published research into mindfulness-based approaches are shown. Very comprehensive and accurate coverage, indicating that the student has gone beyond the core and recommended readings and understands the area in depth. Writes coherently with clarity of argument and expression. Originality of ideas and a clear understanding of practical research methodology are shown in research proposal for thesis.

Learning outcomes

  1. Develop inferential links between the evidence-base on mindfulness and the brain and the teaching of mindfulness-based interventions.

  2. Critically appraise the existing research on the cognitive neuroscience of mindfulness.

  3. Understand research methods and methodologies used in researching the cognitive neuroscience of mindfulness.

  4. Assess the contribution of findings on the cognitive neuroscience of mindfulness to the theory of mindfulness-based approaches and particularly mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of mindfulness.

  5. Investigate the relevance of evidence in cognitive neuroscience of mindfulness to mindfulness practice.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY “Investigation of a specific mindfulness practice (or an aspect of mindfulness practice) from the perspective of research in cognitive neuroscience of mindfulness”

Essay assignment “Investigation of a specific mindfulness practice (or an aspect of mindfulness practice) from the perspective of research in cognitive neuroscience of mindfulness” (needs to include references to at least six peer reviewed articles in neuroscience of mindfulness)

INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATION Presentation on the topic “How can research on mindfulness and the brain inform the teaching of mindfulness-based approaches?”

Presentation on the topic “How can research on mindfulness and the brain inform the teaching of mindfulness-based approaches?” If appropriate, contextualize this within a specific area of mindfulness training delivery. The presentation should build on and briefly present supporting evidence from at least two peer reviewed research articles on the neuroscience of mindfulness.

ESSAY Written critical summary of the presentation on “How can research on mindfulness and the brain inform the teaching of mindfulness-based approaches?"

Written critical summary of the presentation on “How can research on mindfulness and the brain inform the teaching of mindfulness-based approaches?"


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Online lectures delivered via Panopto which cover a range of topics including the impact of mindfulness on emotion regulation, attention, development, stress and global brain processes from a neuroscience perspective.

One-to-one supervision

Students receive two half hour supervision sessions with the module tutor where they can discuss their ideas for their assignments.

Private study

Students engage in private study throughout the module.


Seminars which enable students to discuss content from the lectures and critically appraise research papers which are relevant to the lecture.


This is an online module, with one 'lab' day where students have a practical session in a lab and also present their assignment one presentations to the other students and engage in discussions on the presentations.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Apply multiple perspectives to psychological issues and integrate ideas and findings across the multiple perspectives in psychology.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in written form.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in oral form.
  • Be computer literate for the purpose of processing and disseminating psychological data and information.
  • Retrieve and organise information effectively.
  • Handle primary source material critically.
  • Problem-solve by clarifying questions, considering alternative solutions, making critical judgements, and evaluating outcomes.
  • Reason scientifically and demonstrate the relationship between theory and evidence.
  • Employ evidence-based reasoning and examine practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with the use of different methodologies, paradigms and methods of analysis in psychology.


Resource implications for students


Talis Reading list

Reading list


Courses including this module